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Twins Fan From Afar

Candidate for Promotion: Chris Herrmann

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If you want to see Chris Herrmann playing
for the Rock Cats, my advice would be
to get a ticket soon
[Originally published at Twins Fan From Afar]

Catching depth in Minnesota is . . . interesting. In fact, I'm not sure that "depth" is the correct word. There's Joe Mauer. And then there's a pretty big drop off. Ryan Doumit can catch, technically, but he is not good defensively. And Drew Butera can call a good game, but I'll be surprised if he can hit above the Mendoza line, and most fans acknowledge that his best role is one in which he doesn't accumulate more than 250 plate appearances per season.

Over in Rochester, there is J.R. Towles, who is 28 years old and batting .183 in 21 games, and Rene Rivera, who you probably remember as one of several bad catchers that were given a shot last year. Rivera, who will be 29 in July, is hitting .193 in 28 games.

There's no perfect back-up catcher currently playing for the Twins, or on the Red Wings. Either the player is not predominately a catcher, is past his athletic prime, is an offensive liability, or is some combination of those things. All of this brings me to Chris Herrmann. Herrmann, 24 years old this season and a native Texan, is in the middle of another solid season in the Twins' minor league system. I'm just going to focus on this season and last season for reference. In 2011, Herrmann was called up to AA New Britain mid-season and appeared in 97 games. His batting line was solid: .258/.380/.392. He had 14 doubles, 5 triples, 7 home runs and 46 RBIs in that time. In 2012, again in New Britain, Herrmann started off very cool, struggling in the first month of the season to get the average above .200. But then, as with the New England weather, Herrmann heated up. As of today, here is Herrmann's slash line: .260/.310/.410, with 14 doubles, 4 home runs and 17 RBIs in 44 games. As you can see, although he has some work to do with the on-base percentage, the power has been increasing. As I mentioned, he has been playing better lately, recording 4 hits in consecutive games last week. Over his last ten games, Herrmann is .324/.405/.405 with 3 doubles and 5 walks (he has 13 walks on the season, so it's nice to see him showing more patience at the plate recently).

It's also worth noting that Herrmann has frequently stayed in the lineup on days he doesn't catch, either serving as designated hitter or playing left field. I have seen him in left field, and he did not appear to me to be a defensive liability. I'm not sure how baseball professionals would describe his defensive ability at catcher, but he seems, at the very least, solid to me. He does have a good arm.

I'm not sure how much more Herrmann has to do to earn a promotion to Rochester, or even to Minnesota. It's clear that Towles and Rivera are nothing more than minor league depth. At 24, Herrmann has a lot of baseball in his future. Clearly, there is room for improvement in his game, but I'm not certain that sticking it out in New Britain the rest of 2012 is the best thing for Herrmann's development. I've (sort of) jokingly been calling Herrmann "Mauer's 2013 backup," but he really could be more than that.

Most people reading this post are prudent enough to realize that Joe Mauer won't be catching full-time by 2014 or 2015. In Herrmann the Twins have a young catcher, capable of playing multiple positions, who has the ability to hit and get on base, and has shown more than occasional power. As much as I have enjoyed watching Herrmann at New Britain Stadium, I think it's time to see what he can do at the next level. In fact, by the end of this summer, I think it's time to see what Herrmann can do at Target Field.

Updated 05-29-2012 at 08:09 AM by Twins Fan From Afar

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Comments

  1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
    I agree completely. Do you get any sense that the increase in power and the decrease in OBP is due to experimenting with a different approach at the plate, trying to raise batting average and power (like when Parmelee originally hit for some power, but low average, they had reverse that, and he eventually has put the two together adequately)? Because I am a little concerned about the BB/K rate this year. Hopefully it is a part of an intentional learning/adjustment and not that which would make the great isolated discipline of 2011 a fluke.

    Herrmann seems like a good complement to Mauer and is a defensive upgrade over Doumit for a fraction of the cost.
  2. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
    That's a good observation. I think there definitely might be some experimenting going on. I've seen him bat leadoff a few times (where you would expect to see him work the count and hopefully draw some walks), and also deeper down in the order (maybe 4th or 5th one game) where they would expect more power.

    Yes, ideally next season Herrmann would be 130% of Doumit defensively, say 75% of Doumit offensively, at roughly 15% of the Doumit price tag.
  3. Rosterman's Avatar
    Herrmann is the back-up of the future, maybe next season. I don't see the Twins adding him to the 40-man until November...just because they'd run thru the guys that won't be around next year first if push comes to shove. I doubt that he'd fuly replace Mauer at ay point. Probably won't see fulltime major league duty until 2014...expect the Twins to hang onto the hot hitting Butera for at least one more season. Doumit is probably using the Twins to increase his free agent value. Him coming back for another year will be determined by what the Twins do with Morneau and Willingham in the field...do the Twins push Hicks and Benson and Revere in 2013 as the outfield...or not.
  4. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman
    Herrmann is the back-up of the future, maybe next season. I don't see the Twins adding him to the 40-man until November...just because they'd run thru the guys that won't be around next year first if push comes to shove. I doubt that he'd fuly replace Mauer at ay point. Probably won't see fulltime major league duty until 2014...expect the Twins to hang onto the hot hitting Butera for at least one more season. Doumit is probably using the Twins to increase his free agent value. Him coming back for another year will be determined by what the Twins do with Morneau and Willingham in the field...do the Twins push Hicks and Benson and Revere in 2013 as the outfield...or not.
    Thanks for the comment. Hicks has been just average this season. I think the organization needs to make a decision on his swith-hitting. It's very, very hard to imagine him at Target Field next year.

    I'm not suggesting he has been bad -- he's up there in avg/obp/rbis for the Rock Cats -- but he seems far from MLB ready in my uneducated opinion.

    Let's hope Benson gets back to form soon!
  5. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
    I vaguely recall having a conversation with Seth at TwinsFest about how Herrmann will be the perfect complement to Mauer as soon as 2013. Herrmann also played a little 3B before being drafted, it'd be nice if he could (re)add that to his arsenal.
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