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  • The Future of Twins Catching

    At the beginning of spring, there was a question about what the Twins would do with the men behind the plate. Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit were locks to make the roster. Minnesota carried three catchers for most of 2012 so one assumed that a third catcher would be on the roster in 2013.

    Instead, Mauer and Doumit began the season as the only members of the Twins catching core. Middle infielder Eduardo Escobar was the emergency-only back-up. Drew Butera and Chris Herrmann were in the running for the third catcher role but both players started the season in Rochester.
    It was a short run for Butera at Rochester. In his first at-bat, a pitch hit him on his hand; his pinky finger was broken and he hasn't been back on the field since. At 29 years old, Butera isn't exactly up-and-coming. He has over 500 plate appearances at the big league level and fans know what to expect from him.

    The front office has made some interesting choices with Butera so far this year. He could have been dropped from the 40-man roster on multiple occasions. The Twins have five catchers on their 40-man roster and Butera's .183/.232/.265 career MLB batting line is far below replacement level. His time might be running out in Minnesota, especially with other players' performances.

    Herrmann is getting his second taste of the big leagues after being a September call-up last season. His brief MLB stint last year didn't generate many memories but he is back now with more positive results. On Sunday afternoon, he hit his first career home run as part of his first multi-hit game.

    The ability of Herrmann to play multiple positions also makes him an intriguing roster option. On Sunday, he was starting in left field and this is a tendency that has continued from the minors. Over the course of his five seasons in the Twins system, he has played 169 games in left field and 220 games as catcher.

    When other members of the Twins roster begin to get healthy, it could get tough for the Twins to send him back down to Rochester. He is 25 years old and he has only 43 games of Triple-A experience. As the long 162-game schedule continues, the Twins are going to want a third catcher and it's looking more and more as though that will be Herrmann.

    Josmil Pinto is the other catcher on the Twins 40-man roster. He has played this year's entire schedule for Double-A New Britain. After a very strong season for Fort Myers last year, Pinto is putting together what might be his best year as a professional. Through 55 games, he is batting .332/.426/.535 with nine home runs, 12 doubles, and 42 RBI.

    New Britain has used him as a catcher and a DH this year but he is still very good behind the plate. He has thrown out 31% of base stealers. Pinto has also done a good job with some of the best young pitchers in the organization. New Britain pitchers Trevor May, Alex Meyer, and Logan Darnell could be on the same path as Pinto to the big leagues.

    Mauer and Doumit will likely continue to get most of the time behind the plate in the next two seasons. Herrmann can be a solid third catcher and part-time outfielder for the present and he is a viable option to take over the role of primary back-up when Doumit's contract expires. And if Pinto keeps playing like this, it will be hard to keep him out of the big leagues for very much longer.

    The present members of the Twins catching core continue to make their mark on the club. Players like Herrmann and Pinto make it fun to look at who might be future longer-term fixtures. Looking ahead, the Twins' catching roster looks to be in good shape.
    This article was originally published in blog: The Future of Twins Catching started by Cody Christie
    Comments 13 Comments
    1. Red Bull's Avatar
      Red Bull -
      Good article. I dont think any of the Twins catchers in their system are the long term answers. It all depends on how long Mauer will be behind the plate. I really dont thing Mcguire would be a smart pick either, hes great defensivley but doesnt have a good bat. I would much rather have an average defensive catcher that produces offensivley. Best case scenario would be Mauer stays behind the plate throughout his contract, but thats not likely. Idk what they are gonna do...
    1. Carneal&Gordon's Avatar
      Carneal&Gordon -
      Obviously watching Mauer is a treat but it's also exciting seeing Herrmann's versatility in the bigs and Pinto's great season in New Britain.

      Also, McGuire at #4 has to be put into context on how the rest of the draft goes. In my humble opinion of course.
    1. Tibs's Avatar
      Tibs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Red Bull View Post
      Good article. I dont think any of the Twins catchers in their system are the long term answers. It all depends on how long Mauer will be behind the plate. I really dont thing Mcguire would be a smart pick either, hes great defensivley but doesnt have a good bat. I would much rather have an average defensive catcher that produces offensivley. Best case scenario would be Mauer stays behind the plate throughout his contract, but thats not likely. Idk what they are gonna do...
      What don't you like about Herrmann or Pinto?
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Very funny photo to go with this story. Just, very funny. Ha ha ha. Hee hee.

      (cry, cry)
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      I don't get why they've kept Butera on the 40 man especially since he's practically the same age as Mauer.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by troyhobbs View Post
      I don't get why they've kept Butera on the 40 man especially since he's practically the same age as Mauer.
      To keep the Benson thread going.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      Pinto is doing a good job of helping us fans forget the Ramos debacle of a few years ago. With a strong prospect in the minors its easy to move on and look forward to Pinto.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      I posted a comment on this thread yesterday. Somehow it has disappeared. Anyway, I think Pinto can work in next year in place of Doumit. He can catch and occasionally DH. He offers RH power and more defensive tools than Doumit, who should have quite a bit of value at the trading deadline. I think it might be a good idea to have a versatile third catcher, especially of one of the two catchers is DHing or perhaps playing another position. Herrmann provides that versatility plus a left handed bat. His opposite number, Dan Rohlfing, was recently promoted to Rochester. He's righthanded, and plays first and the outfield corners in addition to catching. It seems to me that to have two alternatives as a third catcher/utility guy is a better situation. Neither Rohlfing nor Herrmann look to be much more than bench players with limited power, but with the proper 25-man roster either could be valuable.
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      To keep the Benson thread going.
      Guess I can appreciate that
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      If Pinto is the next best thing, we can AAA him next year (when we still have Doumit around). We have Herrmann and Lehmann and Rolfingmann still around as adequate backups.

      There is a good chance we may totally forget about Wilson Ramos.

      The big question is...how many years does Mauer catch. One-Two as the main guy. Do we need to break someone in halftime in 2016. We would then have Pinto as a catcher thru 2020-21 if he works out before he would get mildly expensive...assuming he might just be a part-timer entering his arbitration Year One.

      Bring Back Danny Rams!
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      If Pinto is the next best thing, we can AAA him next year (when we still have Doumit around). We have Herrmann and Lehmann and Rolfingmann still around as adequate backups.
      Danny Lehmann is very good defensively, but the only catcher in the organization with a lighter bat than Butera's and soon to be 28. At this point, he is below Eric Fryer (same age but can hit a little bit and run a little bit) in the (AAA) depth chart.

      In any future C discussion Matt Koch should be included.
    1. Sum41's Avatar
      Sum41 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Danny Lehmann is very good defensively, but the only catcher in the organization with a lighter bat than Butera's and soon to be 28. At this point, he is below Eric Fryer (same age but can hit a little bit and run a little bit) in the (AAA) depth chart.
      Admitted Lehmann supporter. I'm seeking help.

      Just a note: Below is the closest thing I could find to an even comparison, but saying someone has a lighter bat than Butera is pretty rough, especially considering the frequency of play within an organization with three catchers for each team. The Twins seem to have less of a need for a defensive-minded backstop, and I would imagine that the Twins will part ways with Lehmann and/or Butera this winter to make room for the more versatile Mauer secondaries.

      Lehmann AAA / .229 .315 .310 .625 (91 games) (>$15,000)
      Butera AAA / .220 .276 .308 .584 (115 games) ($700,000)
      Fryer AAA / .204 .307 .297 .603 (129 games) (<$50,000)

      However, I can't help but wonder if a team with such a struggling rotation couldn't benefit from a catcher that is a little more "defensive-minded?"
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Apparently the Twins see things like the rest of you--three Catchers selected in the first ten selections--3rd,6th, and 9th.
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