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  • Tempered Expectations for Parmelee

    [Originally published at Twins Fan From Afar]

    Chris Parmelee
    should be fine. He looked great last September in a Twins uniform, and was a bright spot during an otherwise dismal time. Of the three prospects called up -- Parmelee, Joe Benson and Liam Hendriks -- Parmelee looked the most ready for the show. After watching several Rock Cats games last year in person, I was a little surprised that Parmelee, and not Benson, looked better in his time as a Twin, but that is why I don't get paid to do anything baseball related. You can call it a small sample size, and you'd be correct, but for 21 games in a Twins uniform, Parmelee had a .355/.443/.592 slash line with 4 home runs and 18 RBIs, and most importantly, didn't looked overmatched at the plate or in the field. He also just looked comfortable playing in the majors, which some call-ups are not.

    To Parmelee's credit, he followed up his September cup of coffee with a nice glass of Florida orange juice. His numbers aren't quite as impressive, but with a .269 average, 3 home runs and 9 RBIs, he at least has demonstrated that the power he exhibited last September wasn't necessarily a fluke.

    With Morneau presumably starting the season as the full-time designated hitter, and with Parmelee's success, Parmelee is the odds-on favorite to start the season at first base. Understandably, once fans got past the news that Morneau will now be a professional hitter, many are excited by Parmelee's potential. In fact, there have been a few blog posts, and even newspaper articles, suggesting that Parmelee might be the next big thing for the Twins. I just don't think that we should get ahead of ourselves. There's likely going to be a big difference between what Parmelee can provide at the plate over the course of a full season in the majors -- seeing pitchers and ballparks for the first time, and becoming accustomed to the rigorous travel schedule and time demands -- and what he demonstrated in New Britain and Minnesota in 2011, and in a few weeks of exhibition games in 2012. I think Parmelee will be a success, both this year and the future, but I also think that in 2012 he will much more closely resemble the player that hit a composite .282 at New Britain than the player that took Target Field by storm last September. As fans, we should be fine with that.

    Parmelee, who turned 24 last month, is a rookie in the truest sense, without even a game of AAA baseball under his belt. Though he has looked fairly consistent, be ready for slumps, and expect -- at least occasionally -- for him to look overmatched at the plate. It's been a while since the Twins had an exciting rookie prospect come up that both management and fans expected to have a good career (I won't even mention Wilson Ramos; and Danny Valencia, though he did well in 2010, by no means shot up through the minor league system and never batted at or above .300 in AA or AAA). In 2005, Justin Morneau's first season as a full-time first baseman, he batted .239/.304/.437 with 22 home runs, 79 RBIs and 94 strikeouts. The power was there, clearly, but he was still a little raw. The next season he was the American League Most Valuable Player. During his nacency, Morneau was also rated the #14 and #16 prospect by Baseball America. Parmelee, conversely, did not come up through the system with such expectations attached to him. Here's what I expect from Parmelee, assuming just for now that he is a full-time starter (though likely he will be splitting time at first with Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit and perhaps Morneau): .270/.345/.440, with 18 home runs and 70 RBIs. And I expect the defense to be solid, but not astounding.

    Yes, Parmelee is ready to play in Minnesota. And yes, he looks like a really solid first base prospect with perhaps an exciting future ahead of him. But there's a jump between AA, a September call-up and Spring Training exhibition games, and perhaps having to face CC Sabathia one night, and Justin Verlander or Cliff Lee the next night. The good thing, though, is that Parmelee has looked like a professional this spring, and I have little doubt that he is the type of player that will make the adjustments necessary for long-term success.
    This article was originally published in blog: Tempered Expectations for Parmelee started by Twins Fan From Afar
    Comments 7 Comments
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      .800 OPS in what would be his rookie season, that's already pretty decent. It seems like a reasonable prediction too, and over time should get better. I'm kind of excited about his development and this will mean pushing some weaker bats aside... I like it.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      He had an OPS of .802 in AA last year, I think a .750 OPS would be a good rookie year for him. Not sure it's realistic.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      I think a career path similar to Kubel is possible. Kubel had a great season at age 27 improving each season in OPS.

      24 - .665
      25 - .785
      26 - .805
      27 - .907
      28 - .750
      29 - .766

      I think it is more likely that he will struggle as Kubel did at 24 and be sent down at some point rather than put up an OPS of 800+. An OPS of .750 is more reasonable and should keep him in the majors. Look for a steady progression in the coming years.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      I believe my eyeballs. Chris Parmelee is a solid baseball player. If he plays sound first base and doesn't try to press too hard at the plate, he'll have a fine rookie season. Just keep doing what he's been doing in spring training. And of course, if you have a hunch that a fastball's coming, smash the crap out of it.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jimbo92107 View Post
      I believe my eyeballs. Chris Parmelee is a solid baseball player.
      If your eyeballs tell you something drastically different than the numbers, go with the numbers. The numbers say he has a chance to be a decent MLB player, but he's no lock.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      I think a career path similar to Kubel is possible. Kubel had a great season at age 27 improving each season in OPS.
      I'm not sure how to compare him to Kubel, because there are really two different Kubels - before and after the knee injury. Before, he was a truly elite prospect - his .352 .414 .590 1.004 line in 549 PA between AA and AAA at age 22 are on a different level from anything Parmelee has ever done. After the injury, he missed all of his age 23 season, then struggled at age 24 before finally starting to hit some at age 25.

      There was really no comparison between the two as prospects. We can't compare their age 23 seasons (Parmelee's most recent) because Kubel missed his. My guess is what Kubel became is near the upper limit for Parmelee, but I don't think they have a similar enough career arc to be useful comparisons.
    1. twinstalker's Avatar
      twinstalker -
      Parmelee euphoria, I love it. Where solid rationale goes out the window.

      I won't go into the minor league numbers, which were extremely consistent and everyone knows (K rate high, hit rate pretty low). Parmelee was all along touted to be an eventual major leaguer. He's fulfilling that promise right now. But he's pretty much been projected to be a second division regular if everything goes his way. Justin Morneau was projected to be an all-star. To even put them in the same sentence, unless that sentence starts with "Due to Morneau's inability to play first base..." is blasphemy. Parmelee's upside, meaning if everything goes right (which they usually don't) is hitting like Cuddyer. Problem is, Cuddyer's numbers were not good, not first-division, for a 1st baseman. And make no mistake, it's highly unlikely Parmelee ever plays much OF.*

      In 2008 Denard Span completely "found it." In 2011 Trevor Plouffe had something click that hadn't shown itself before. And then in September Parmelee had a good month. Unfortunately, good Septembers happen to a lot of eventually mediocre players. He's followed that up with a very good spring training...again, not normally the basis for sound projections.

      So...here's my thought based on all the evidence: Most likely scenario is that Parmelee is a mediocre, below average 1B. However, we have no evidence that the Span-type light didn't come on. The Plouffe AAA sudden explosion. In other words, there's hope that something special clicked. I hope so, too. But realistically, Parmelee is going to be below average as soon as MLB pitchers discover how to pitch to him. Here's crossing our fingers.

      *Almost the only way Parmelee plays in the OF is if he's in the lineup with Morneau, Mauer, and Doumit, AND Mauer is at 1B. In other words, I don't think it's going to happen all that often.
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