Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • Two Separate Sophomore Seasons

    When the Twins left spring training, there were multiple Twins players in line to get playing time during their sophomore seasons. The second year can be a huge year for players trying to make their mark at the big league level. There can be positive signs during a rookie season but continuing those early impressions and making adjustments is key to solidifying a player's future.

    Two of these second year players were set-up for very different starts to the season. Scott Diamond had seemingly come out of nowhere to be the Twins best starting pitcher in 2012. Brian Dozier had struggled mightily during his first trip through the American League. Diamond was lined up to fit into the rotation for multiple seasons while Dozier had plenty of question marks around him as he shifted to a new defensive position.

    Early Season Impressions
    Diamond started this year on the disabled list after having a bone chip removed from his elbow late in the offseason. This might have taken away from his offseason routine and this definitely showed up on the field. By the end of June, Diamond had an ERA of 5.40 with opponents batting .320/.355/.502 against him. It wasn't exactly a dream start to the year.

    Dozier didn't exactly set the world on fire at the beginning of the year. In the middle of April, he was hitting under .200 and things did not improve quickly. For the month of May he hit .190/.227/.286 while being limited to four extra-base hits. There were some positive signs at his new defensive position but his offense was still reminiscent of his poor rookie campaign.

    Mid-Season Changes
    Things would continue to go downhill for Diamond in the middle portion of the season. July was another bad month as opponents hit .264/.336/.500 with six home runs in the five games he started. Other teams were hitting the ball hard and Diamond's 1.538 WHIP continued to be tough to swallow. Minnesota decided to make a change and Diamond was sent to Rochester in August for the rest of the Triple-A season.

    While Diamond was busy trying to figure himself out in the minors, Dozier made some adjustments to put himself on a record-breaking pace. He knocked five home runs in June while boosting his batting line to .257/.389/.514. July saw Dozier hit 11 doubles, more than the first three months of the year combined. Ron Gardenhire developed more faith in Dozier batting near the top of the order and the second baseman made the most of this opportunity.

    Late-Season Adjustments
    Rochester needed every win the team could get down the stretch and Diamond helped solidify their rotation. He made six starts at Triple-A and posted a perfect 4-0 record with a 2.40 ERA. Opponents hit .217/.259/.336 against him and he averaged almost seven innings per start. Minnesota had seen some positive changes in Diamond so they brought him back to the big leagues for the team's last handful of games. There are open spots in next season's starting rotation and Diamond needs to show that he deserves a spot.

    Dozier continued his hot hitting as the Twins season has progressed. August turned into his best offensive month, as he became a power hitting threat. He hit .276/.333/.535 with six home runs, 11 doubles, and three triples. This outburst of power put Dozier on pace to set the franchise record for home runs from a second baseman. Minnesota has used Dozier at the bottom of the line-up, as a leadoff hitter and now he has worked his way to the middle of the order.

    Focus on the Future
    Diamond has a lot left to prove to the Twins before the 2014 season starts. There is going to be some room in the team's pocket book to court some free agent pitchers. If the Twins pursue multiple starting pitching options, Diamond could end up back in Rochester. This seems like a long shot at this point but Mr. Diamond won't feel nearly as comfortable this offseason. Maybe it is better for him to have to earn a spot than be guaranteed one.

    Minnesota has Eddie Rosario pushing towards the majors but Dozier looks to be blocking his path. Fans are going to want to see Dozier continue his impressive offense for another full season. It has been rare for the Twins to have a successful middle infielder molded in their own farm system and the team seems pleased with Dozier. He has slowly become a team leader and the Twins' future plans seem more likely to include their current second baseman.

    Sophomore years can be tough but Dozier and Diamond have sure taken different paths in their second year in the big leagues. Diamond in the middle of a year long sophomore slump and Dozier showing that there can be some success in a player's sophomore season.

    Two different players... And Two Different Sophomore Seasons...
    This article was originally published in blog: Two Separate Sophomore Seasons started by Cody Christie
    Comments 11 Comments
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Dozier found some power, and if he can straddle .250 he can hang in there, a la Trevor Plouffe, who is in somewhat the same boat. You can have a few .250 hitters on a team, but you need more hitting above that line and fewer below.

      Diamond has one or two more starts. The joy is that he can become a low-cost bullpen fit if need be for a season or two. But he will now have to work off challeners for a starting spot next season. He is out of options now?
    1. richardkr34's Avatar
      richardkr34 -
      .250 is about average for a major league hitter. On a good team, you'd want Dozier hitting seventh.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Brian Dozier has proved that he is willing and able to change his approach to hitting by making significant mechanical changes. That takes courage. These guys spend years trying to perfect their swing, and when it's good enough to get them out of the minors, a lot of ballplayers just don't want to tinker anymore. Instead of settling for an approach that had his average hovering around .200, Dozier sought out Tom Brunanski and did video analysis to figure out how to improve his ability to adjust to different speed pitches. The results of his hard work have been spectacular. On top of his improved defense, Dozier now is one of the most dangerous hitters on the team.

      Can Pedro Florimon do something like that? According to Roy Smalley, Florimon's flaw is that he automatically dips his hands as he starts his swing. This makes the bat dip down under any pitch above his thighs, resulting in a lot of whiffs and pop-ups. Can Florimon break that habit and learn to make smarter up-down adjustments with his hands? His ability to make that change in the off-season may determine whether or not he keeps his job.

      Meanwhile, Brian Dozier to me is a fine example of a ballplayer that is making himself better, not just by hard work, but by studying the game and figuring out what changes he needs to make himself better. This spells a bright future as a player, and later as a coach.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Quote Originally Posted by richardkr34 View Post
      .250 is about average for a major league hitter. On a good team, you'd want Dozier hitting seventh.
      I agree. 7th seems like a great spot for him.
    1. lyndon's Avatar
      lyndon -
      Yeah I always think a good rule of thumb is don't judge a young player until he's had either 2 good seasons or 2 bad seasons in a row. It seems almost anybody can have one good season, but putting 2 good seasons back-to-back shows me that somebody has "made it." And the reverse is kinda true too. Sometimes a young player just needs a little time to figure things out and then BOOM! And in a game of millimeters you can see how a kid makes one or two small adjustments and everything changes. You can't coronate or condemn them after one year.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      The problem with Diamond was that that Twins really inflated his 2012 performance (but of course they were looking at ERA and W-L) . 4.7 K/9 do not an "Ace" as the Twins called him make. He is a serviceable maybe back of the rotation pitcher if he hits his sports. He did in 2012, did not in 2011 and 2013. Major difference of the 2013 Diamond from 2012 Diamond has been BB/9. Add his horrible forced mechanics (check out how he stands with his back leg still up the air for seconds after each pitch watching where the ball is going, instead of having a nice fluid delivery and be in position to field the ball as soon as it is released) and he is trully a work in progress, which might not pay, since the natural talent is just not there. At this point, I'd rather have Duensing, at least his fastball is 5 mph faster...
    1. CGNikolic's Avatar
      CGNikolic -
      The Twins called him an ace well... Because who did we have who was better? Who could we have gotten (keeping in mind we are talking about the Twins) that was? Diamond had a year with good luck that allowed his ERA to look much better than it could/should have been, but he's still better than he was this year. He's best lined up as the #4/5 guy or a solid long reliever. Dozier, while having a much better year than last year, is still AN AVERAGE second baseman. His improvements have been nice, but I think we are drawing too much good out of it. He's a solid hitter at the bottom of a lineup, as noted above, but won't be more than that. He's a little more consistent form of Plouffe, with less power potential and better defense. Likely Replaceable when our prospects come up.
    1. Forever34's Avatar
      Forever34 -
      I'm not totally convinced Diamond's struggles this year didn't have something to do with his surgery or him not being fully recovered yet. In 2012 he had great control and a good curveball plus other pitches that could help induce ground balls. He is by no means an ace, but should be a guy who could/should become a serviceable back-end type.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Quote Originally Posted by Forever34 View Post
      I'm not totally convinced Diamond's struggles this year didn't have something to do with his surgery or him not being fully recovered yet. In 2012 he had great control and a good curveball plus other pitches that could help induce ground balls. He is by no means an ace, but should be a guy who could/should become a serviceable back-end type.
      I agree and would add that probably he has "overregressed" if there is such a word. Diamond had a lot of things go right, and it seems like he has been paid back double for every mistake he's made this year. I don't think his arm was 100% and with such a small margin for error an inch or two makes a lot of difference. I expect that Diamond will be starting for the Twins next year and will put up numbers closer to 2012 than 2013.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      The problem with Diamond was that that Twins really inflated his 2012 performance (but of course they were looking at ERA and W-L) . 4.7 K/9 do not an "Ace" as the Twins called him make. He is a serviceable maybe back of the rotation pitcher if he hits his sports. He did in 2012, did not in 2011 and 2013. Major difference of the 2013 Diamond from 2012 Diamond has been BB/9. Add his horrible forced mechanics (check out how he stands with his back leg still up the air for seconds after each pitch watching where the ball is going, instead of having a nice fluid delivery and be in position to field the ball as soon as it is released) and he is trully a work in progress, which might not pay, since the natural talent is just not there. At this point, I'd rather have Duensing, at least his fastball is 5 mph faster...
      The Twins at no time referred to him as one of the top 15-20 pitchers in all of baseball. How do you know what statistics they looked at? Every pitcher, in the heat of the moment etc., forgets to get in proper fielding position at some point in time. This hardly qualifies as horrible forced mechanics.
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      I agree that we should reserve judgment on Dozier until we see if he can play at this level for more than one season, but there are a lot of reasons for hope on him. There's nothing in his performance that suggests "fluke"; no unsustainable BABIP, no beating up on a bunch of Sept call-ups to pad the stats. And the defense has been elite. Right now Dozier looks like a league-average hitter with strong defense, which makes him better than average at 2B and a very valuable asset (hardly replaceable, considering how much trouble the Twins have had with middle infielders in recent years!).

      I always expected regression on Diamond, just not this much regression. I still think he can be a useful member of the rotation next season. I'd really like the team to spend to get a guy like Burnett or Hughes to hold down a spot with Gibson and have Deduno, Diamond, Corriea, Hendricks, and Worley fight it out for the other spots until Meyer & May are ready.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.