The Twins on Monday announced eight September call-ups, including several players who will get another chance to prove they belong in the majors.
Outfielder Aaron Hicks, catchers Josmil Pinto and Chris Herrmann, infielder Doug Bernier, righthanders Michael Tonkin and Lester Oliveros and lefthanders Logan Darnell and A.J. Achter will join the club Tuesday. All but Achter have played for the Twins in the past.
“It was a group that was deserving,” Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. “It was based on need, it was based on exposure, making sure we had a competitive group here going down the stretch.”
At the top of the list is Hicks, a former first-round pick who has been the Opening Day starting center fielder in each of the past two years but struggled so badly earlier this year that the Twins sent him down to Class AA New Britain to find his stroke.
After batting .198 with the Twins this year — and briefly ending his switch-hitting career — Hicks hit .297 with a .404 on base percentage in 43 games at New Britain. It was there where the 24-year-old decided to resume switch hitting. Hicks was batting .261 in 23 games at Class AAA Rochester when the Twins decided to call him up.
“He handled it well,” Ryan said of Hicks, who wasn’t called up last September after he was sent to the minors. “He’s maturing and realizing what it takes.”
With Hicks and Jordan Schafer able to play center, it will be easier for the Twins to play Danny Santana at shortstop during the final month of the season. He is the shortstop of the near future but has barely played there in his brief major league career.
Pinto was believed to be the catcher of the future, but he has struggled to refine his skills behind the plate. Still, he has pop in his bat and will get a chance to work with the major league staff to improve his catching. In 60 games at Class AAA Rochester, he hit .279 with six home runs and 35 RBI. He also has a .376 on-base percentage.
Ryan said Pinto has improved his catching skills at Rochester. The Twins coaching staff will be eager to see that.
As for the others, Tonkin, Darnell and Herrmann all appeared with the Twins earlier this year. Bernier, a middle infielder, debuted with the Twins last season and has been one of Rochester’s best players this season, batting .280 with six home runs and 54 RBI for the Red Wings.
Oliveros has made it all the way back from Tommy John surgery in 2012 that forced him to miss most of the 2013 season.
“He’s worked hard to get where he’s at,” said Ryan, who added that the 26-year-old Venezuelan is back to throwing in the mid-90s.
Achter is the only one of the group making his major league debut. A 46th-round pick in 2010, he has spent most of the season at Rochester, where he was 4-4 with a 2.44 ERA. In 70 innings, he walked 24 and struck out 70. “He had a tremendous year,” Ryan said.
• Of righthander Phil Hughes’ 15 victories this season, 10 have come in day games, the most for any Twins pitcher since Dave Boswell had that many in 1969. Baltimore is 22 games over .500 but only 19-26 in day games.
• The Twins’ 71 doubles in August were the most for the team in any month since it moved to Minnesota in 1961. The franchise record is 76 doubles in June 1933, when it was the Washington Senators.
• The Twins’ .277 batting average in August led the AL, but they went a season-worst 11-18 during the month.