Black Holes--Part II
by, 05-29-2013 at 11:35 AM (279 Views)
I introduced my thoughts on the Twins' failings on offense and pointed out three players who are toward the bottom of the statistical pile--Brian Dozier, Chris Parmelee and Aaron Hicks. I profiled Dozier as a low-ceiling guy in a position of need and optimistically said that he is capable of a .675-.700 OPS, which would be good enough to keep his job going forward. Chris Parmelee is my next topic.
Chris Parmelee was a #1 draft choice for the Twins in 2006. He progressed slowly through the minors and posted mostly undistinguished numbers, but showing some power potential until 2011 in New Britain. There he had his highest full season BA and coupled that with 13 homers and 83 RBI, garnering a September call-up to the Twins. Chris enjoyed an outstanding September with the Twins, hitting .355 with a 1.055 OPS, while clubbing 4 homers and driving in 14. That showing put him on the radar as a first base/DH option for 2012. Justin Morneau's slow recovery from a concussion and other issues gave Parmelee a ticket to the big leagues last year. Chris was the starting first baseman, but he struggled most of the time. When Morneau demonstrated he was ready to play first, Parmelee was sent to Rochester for his first AAA experience. Parmelee opened eyes again with his hitting in the International League, hitting .338 and OPSing over 1.000. Back to the Twins, and his play improved after his recall but not on the level of his September breakout the year before or the blistering hot streak in Rochester. All-in-all, Parmelee was a disappointment, but he showed enough to be penciled in as a starter when two starting outfielders were traded in the offseason.
Parmelee was moved to right field in spring training. He handled the corner outfield spot well and hit enough to be rewarded with another trip north, this time as the Twins right fielder. So far, much like Brian Dozier, the position change has been no problem. Parmelee has surprised many with his proficiency as a right fielder, however the bat hasn't done the job. He's currently hitting just .214 with a .619 OPS. Only one AL regular, Jeff Francour, has worse offensive numbers. Several issues revolve around Parmelee. First, he is viewed as Justin Morneau's replacement if Morneau leaves via free agency, is traded, or is injured, so his fortunes in some respect are tied to the big Canadian. Second, if Parm is considered a corner outfielder, the Twins have a prospect on the horizon. Osvaldo Arcia already has over 100 major league plate appearances and has shown the potential to be a top flight hitter. Third, is Parmelee himself. Is he going to develop into a star, a regular, a role player, or is he going to be discarded soon like his fellow '06 draftee partner Joe Benson? The results are mixed. Perhaps the biggest red flag this year has been former Twins' manager Tom Kelly (serving as a guest analyst) frankly admitting that Parmelee was having trouble catching up to big-league fastballs. Is this just a symptom of a slump or is it the ultimate career-limiter?
Principally because of interleague play, Parmelee has seen limited at-bats on the just-completed road trip. He seems to be doing a bit better--5 for 15 in the last seven days with a long homer in Milwaukee. The Twins need to see which Parmelee is the genuine article. If he can OPS around .800 with decent power and the ability to play both first and the outfield, it is much easier to part with Morneau and pave the way for making Joe Mauer a part-time first baseman. The slow start will make it tough to post those numbers for this season, but I don't think it is out of the realm. My prediction would be that Parmelee gets the numbers up to acceptable (about a .750 OPS), in the middle third of AL right fielders. I have said on other threads, that if the production doesn't improve, he is likely shoved aside. There is talent (lots of it) coming in the Twins' farm system.