• Twins Organizational Depth Chart - Third Base

    So far weíve reviewed the catchers and the first basemen, and today we will be looking at the third basemen in the Minnesota Twins organization.

    The Twins have had an issue getting consistent third base play since the days of Corey Koskie. Danny Valencia was called up and had a very strong showing as a rookie, but he then struggled in his second season. That opened the door for Trevor Plouffe who had a huge two-month stretch in 2012, showing tremendous power. He struggled in 2013. What will 2014 bring for Plouffe? With one of baseballís top prospects coming up quickly on the horizon, it will be a big year for the incumbent.

    The Big Leaguers


    Trevor Plouffe will begin the 2014 season as the Twins starting third baseman. Though it will be the fifth season that he has seen time with the Twins and his 11th in the organization, he will not turn 28 until mid-June. Thereís no question Plouffe has some talent and the ability to hit the ball a long way. His .254 average in 2013 was his career-high. However, despite playing in a career high 129 games, his home run total dropped from 24 in 2012 to 14 in 2013. He did miss time with a concussion and when he was ready to return, he went right back on the DL with a calf injury.



    Eduardo Escobar is out of options and will most likely be the teamís primary utility infielder in 2014. There is little offensive upside with Escobar, though he can play the infield positions quite well and can provide depth in the outfield too. He also had caught some bullpens and would be the Twins emergency catcher.

    The Non-Roster Invites


    Last week, the Twins announced their non-roster spring training invitees. Three of those invites are primarily third basemen.

    In 2013, Deibinson Romero was supposed to head to the Twins' big league camp for the first time since he was put on the teamís 40-man roster in 2009. Unfortunately, he had problems getting a visa due to MLBís more stringent age reviewing process. He came to the States after the season began and put together a solid year. In 90 games between AA (where he just played in just a handful of games) and AAA, he hit .275/.374/.448 with 17 doubles and 13 homers. A year earlier, in AA, he had 23 doubles and 19 homers. Hopefully the 27-year-old can have a healthy, productive season.

    Brandon Waring (28) came to the Twins early in the offseason as a minor league free agent. After spending more than half the 2012 season with the Orioles AAA team in Norfolk, he spent all but ten days of the 2013 back at AA Bowie. He hit just .213. However, he did post a .102 IsoD with 23 home runs. He primarily played 3B, though he can also play 1B.

    The Crown Jewel


    The third non-roster invitee at the hot corner is someone who would likely be the #1 prospect in about 28 of baseballís organizations. In the Twins system, Miguel Sano is the #2 prospect behind only Byron Buxton, the top prospect in baseball. After hitting 28 home runs and driving in 100 runs in Beloit in 2012, Sano performed even better as he moved up the ladder in 2013. In Ft. Myers, he hit .330/.424/.655 (1.079) with 15 doubles and 16 home runs. The day after the Miracle clinched the first half title, he was promoted to AA where he played in 67 more games. There, he struggled and hit just .236. However, he got on base 34% of the time and hit 15 doubles and 19 home runs. So, combined, he had 30 doubles, 35 homers and 103 RBI. His defense also greatly improved. He reduced his error total from 42 in 2012 to 23 in 2013.

    As exciting as Sanoís power is, he will have to continue to make improvement in his contact rate. When he connects, the ball generally travels. A return to New Britain will be beneficial to his development. However, he could move up quickly as long as his defense remains solid. And, of course, assuming his elbow turns out to be healthy.

    Prospect Rankings


    Miguel Sano is one of baseballís best prospects, and rightfully so, but he was my choice (and most peopleís) as the Twins #2 prospect.

    My #14 Twins prospect, Travis Harrison, put together a solid showing in his first full season. At Cedar Rapids, he hit .253/.366/.416 with 28 doubles and 15 home runs. After committing 24 errors in 59 games in E-Town in 2012, Harrison had 26 errors in 129 games in Cedar Rapids in 2013. The 2011 supplemental first round pick will likely advance to Ft. Myers for the 2014 season.

    Amaurys Minier was my choice as the #16 Twins prospect this year. He was the Twins big international signing in 2012 when the then-16-year-old signed with the team for $1.4 million. He was limited to 31 games in his professional debut with the GCL Twins in 2013 due to injury. He hit just .214 and got on base 25% of the time. However, he hit five doubles, two triples and six home runs. When he made contact, good things typically happened. He has work to do on his defense as well, as you would expect.

    Roster
    Projections

    In each installment, Iíve made my roster projections. Additional signings and injuries would affect all this, and thatís why I sometimes have more than just two or even three at each level. There are also always players put on disabled lists. As a disclaimer, these are my projections and not meant to be used as anything official. This gives an idea of who could be at each affiliate at the start of the season.


    • Minnesota: Trevor Plouffe, Eduardo Escobar
    • Rochester: Deibinson Romero, Brandon Waring, Nate Hanson
    • New Britain: Miguel Sano
    • Fort Myers: Travis Harrison, Stephen Wickens
    • Cedar Rapids: Javier Pimentel, Chad Christensen
    • Extended Spring Training: Amaurys Minier, Roni Tapia, Ruar Verkerk


    Feel free to discuss the players and the roster.
    Comments 31 Comments
    1. mnfireman's Avatar
      mnfireman -
      Right now Plouffe is the best option for the MLB club, whether its for half a year or a year and half. Many things could change that though. If Sano's elbow is not ready, if he struggles, if Plouffe gets hurt, or if he struggles. Another thing to look at is if Parmalee absolutely kills it, Willingham returns to 2012 form and Arcia improves on last year, maybe Mauer HAS to move to third to get Parm's bat in the line-up. Doubtful, but still.

      If Plouffe can't handle it, maybe Dozier should move to third and Escobar gets second.

      After Mauer, this team is hardly set. It should be open to playing whoever the hot hand is with the bat, and platoon/substitute accordingly.
    1. oldguy10's Avatar
      oldguy10 -
      To me Parmelee absolutely killing it is a far cry from reality as is Willingham returning to 2012 form. And why move Dozier to third and put Escobar at second? Wouldn't Escobar simply going to third be more logical? However, Arcia improving I can easily see.
    1. rhobbs's Avatar
      rhobbs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      It's my guess, but I also think it would be most beneficial for him. I agree that BABIP isn't completely luck. I think they have Sano start there, with Romero and/or others at Rochester. If Sano crushes and makes those little improvements at New Britain, he'll skip AAA. Or, when he moves up, it's not like he will fight for time with Romero.

      Romero is a nice minor league player. he's not a big league regular, but he could be a solid replacement player for short-term.
      Seth, why not sign Michael Young to an one year deal as a place holder for Sano and trade Plouffe for whatever you could get (realizing that isn't much)? Young is a better defender, better bat and a better clubhouse guy.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      My opinion, and that's all it is, is that Sano will be much better at 3B than Mauer would be.
      Seth I agree with your opinions a lot but the reactionary part is all in Mauer's favor. You don't get to be a Gold Glove at catcher without being quick and agile and at 6'5" he was an anomaly at that position as well. Great hand eye coordination, sure handed and strong arm make him ideal for 3rd base. He should have switched there a couple years ago and kept Ramos for catcher. I believe Mauer would be much better at 3rd base but also believe he would be way better than Sano at 1st base which is why you would keep him there rather than switching them. Not because Sano would be better at 3rd. Just my opinion.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Only reason to move Dozier anywhere is to shortstop if Rosario pushes him out of 2nd base. Won't happen this year and unless Hicks rebounds I see an outfield of Buxton, Rosario and Arcia for quite a while.
    1. Spth's Avatar
      Spth -
      Quote Originally Posted by Lefty74 View Post
      I realize Mauer has just made the FT move to 1st base, but why couldn't he be a potential solution at 3rd? There is no question it is hard to switch positions, however, in my opinion, Mauer would be very likely to do a very good/excellent job at 3rd. If Sano continues to struggle defensively isn't this an option? Move him to 1st and let one of the top athletes to ever come out of Minny move to 3rd.
      Could Mauer play shortstop?
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      I've always believed the "Mauer to 3B" advocates significantly underestimate what it takes to learn to play even an adequate MLB-level 3B. Mauer's a great athlete with impressive instincts, but I don't think that means he would just pick up a fielder's glove, walk out to 3B and play on.

      Sano is a pretty impressive athlete as well. He was playing shortstop before the Twins signed him. They immediately moved him to 3B in his first spring training and have worked with him pretty much constantly ever since. He's now, apparently, reached the point where he's playing a passable minor league level 3B.

      I want both of those guys focusing as much of their attention as possible on hitting baseballs for as long as they are teammates with the Twins. Asking them both focus their attention on learning another new position just as they're finally about to play on the same field together seems like a bad idea to me.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Jim Cricket. I advocated the switch for Mauer several years ago, but that was when Morneau was holding the 1st base spot. I no longer am in favor of it but I believe he could make the transition and be adequate in a short period of time. I also believe that if he had made the switch 3 years ago he would be way more than adequate by now. In other words I think he has the talent set to be a GREAT 3rd baseman just based on his talent set as catcher and his general athleticism. I consider skill set to be a different category and that is what would take time to develop and it just no longer makes sense so I agree it would now be a bad idea.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Maybe I'm biased because I played a lot of 3B in my younger days... It's not easy. Those reaction plays are tough and so is charging in on a ball.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dantes929 View Post
      Jim Cricket. I advocated the switch for Mauer several years ago, but that was when Morneau was holding the 1st base spot. I no longer am in favor of it but I believe he could make the transition and be adequate in a short period of time. I also believe that if he had made the switch 3 years ago he would be way more than adequate by now. In other words I think he has the talent set to be a GREAT 3rd baseman just based on his talent set as catcher and his general athleticism. I consider skill set to be a different category and that is what would take time to develop and it just no longer makes sense so I agree it would now be a bad idea.
      I was with you several years ago, especially when it looked like Ramos could handle a large portion of the Catcher load for the Twins. I haven't changed my opinion. And that was mainly because the Twins can't reasonably expect to recoup the per year cost for Mauer at First Base.

      Joe Torre never played a major league game at Third until he was age 29, in his 10th year in the majors. The next year he won the NL MVP at age 30 playing the position for 161 games. Joe Mauer doesn't turn 31 until mid-April...a great athlete can make the necessary adjustments and be more than merely "competent" at a new position reasonably within his range of athleticism.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Maybe I'm biased because I played a lot of 3B in my younger days... It's not easy. Those reaction plays are tough and so is charging in on a ball.
      I am a bit late to this party but Joe was one heck of an athlete at one point. I'm sure most know this but as a refresher in case it was forgotten, not only was he drafted #1 in baseball but he also was the National HS Football Player of the Year and the #1 recruit in the nation his senior season. In basketball he was named to the All-State team in both his junior and senior seasons.

      Now, how Joe would handle the hot corner after a decade behind the dish.... *shrug*. I have no doubts however that had the Twins moved him to 3B in the minors that he would have been gold glove caliber there as well.
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