It has been quite the 12-month span for Twins second baseman Brian Dozier.
On August 14th of last season, the Twins had seen enough of him at shortstop with the big league club. They demoted him to Rochester after 340 plate appearances in his rookie campaign. Many thought he would be back as a September call-up but the call never came. Dozier was forced to live with a bad taste in his mouth for the entire offseason.
Brian Dozier entered the 2013 season not knowing if he would have a starting job with the Twins. The 26-year old middle infielder was shifting to second base and the club was having a competition in spring training for the starting role. Dozier would beat out other light hitting options like Jamey Carroll and Eduardo Escobar. Dozier had flopped when he had previously been giving a starting job but the Twins were willing to give him a second chance at a new position.
April and May weren't outstanding for Dozier. He combined to hit .214/.259/.299 with seven extra-base hits in 168 plate appearances. Unfortunately, he had more strikeouts (35) than hits (33) and he was only able to draw nine walks. It was a rough start to Dozier's sophomore season and the Twins were going to need to see some kind of improvement to keep him in the line-up on a daily basis.
Things started to go in the right direction during the month of June. In 26 games, Dozier found his swing by hitting .257/.389/.514 with five home runs and four doubles. He posted a .902 OPS for the month and the Twins were even willing to give him some at-bats in the lead-off spot. His batting average for the season went from .214 to .228 and he raised his OPS from .558 to .673.
In recent weeks, Dozier has been on quite the hot streak on the offensive side of the ball. Since July 21st, he is batting .304/.364/.595 with three home runs, two triples, and 10 doubles. In this span of 18 games, the Twins have posted an 11-7 record and Dozier' presence at the top of the line-up has helped the club along the way.
Second base is an interesting position for the Twins as the organization starts to look to the future. Dozier seems to be settling into a nice groove at the big league level but he soon might be feeling a little pressure from the minor leagues. Minnesota was unhappy with their lack of talent in the middle infield a couple of seasons ago and the organization decided to move Eddie Rosario, one of the club's best hitting prospects, from the outfield to second base.
Rosario has played parts of this season with the Fort Myers Miracle and the New Britain Rock Cats. In 102 games, he has hit .311/.363/.479 with nine home runs, eight triples, and 26 doubles. He has struck out a career high 75 times with 46 of those Ks coming in 50 games at Double-A. Rosario had a huge month of July for the Rock Cats. He batted .353/.394/.549 with three home runs and nine doubles.
The Twins will look for Rosario to be the second baseman of the future but how soon will the future arrive at Target Field?
Dozier's recent hot streak makes it easier for the Twins to keep Rosario in the minor leagues. Earlier this season it would have been easy to think that Dozier wouldn't have a job for Opening Day 2014 because Rosario would be making his debut. That plan might have changed and this could give Rosario time to master the Triple-A level before being asked to face the pressures of the big leagues.
It seems likely that next spring there could be slough of top prospects in the Twins major league camp during spring training. Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, and Eddie Rosario could all get a taste of what it's like to be one step closer to the big leagues. Sano and Rosario could be fighting for a starting job or they could be on their way to Rochester.
In the end, Rosario is only 21-years old and he will be 22 at the beginning of next season. There isn't exactly a rush to get him to the big leagues and to start his arbitration clock. If Dozier continues to play the way he is, the Twins will be happy to give him at-bats until Rosario is busting down the door to the major leagues.
With the Twins recent history of middle infielders, it's certainly better to have multiple solid options at second base than a bunch of question marks.