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TwinsCentric: When will Pinto be sent down?

  • Blog Post by: Nick Nelson
  • June 11, 2014 - 9:41 AM

Coming into spring training, I don't think that Ron Gardenhire and the Twins were planning on bringing Josmil Pinto north with the big-league club. The young backstop had been awfully impressive with the bat during a September audition in 2013, sure, but Twins officials commented repeatedly throughout the offseason that he was still somewhat raw and his defensive game needed work.

That was a fair position to hold. Pinto was a bit of a slow developer in the minors, and had played only 19 games in Triple-A. As Chris Parmelee had demonstrated two years earlier, you can only put so much stock into a great September debut in the majors.

As spring camp unfolded, Pinto hit, and -- for the most part -- no one else did. With the offense looking rather shabby, the Twins decided that they needed Pinto's bat, and that turned out to be very wise indeed as the catcher's stellar April helped fuel a surprisingly strong start for the lineup.

Since the end of April, though, Pinto has quietly faded. Dating back to May 1st, he's hitting just .200/.227/.329, and after posting an even 17-to-17 K/BB ratio in the first month, his plate approach has deteriorated substantially, with 19 strikeouts against three walks in 75 plate appearances.

Pinto's decline may be attributable, in part, to his sporadic playing time -- he has started only 18 of the team's 39 games since the start of May -- but some holes in his swing have also become evident, and it's clear that his defense needs work.

He'll require regular reps in order to improve these areas, and he was having a tough enough time finding those with the Twins before Kendrys Morales came aboard. Since the Twins are paying him a lot of money, you can bet that Morales is going to get the vast majority of starts at DH, and Kurt Suzuki has earned the opportunity to start most of the time at catcher -- he's simply been a much better player than Pinto, all-around.

So the writing is on the wall. Pinto is going to head back to Triple-A, and he'll be replaced by a player like Eric Fryer who can more justifiably spend most of his time on the bench.

The only question at this point is this: What are the Twins waiting for? Pinto is a very important long-term piece for this club, and letting him languish on the bench as he has for much of the past several weeks isn't going to aid his development.

I suspect that the Twins are simply waiting to make sure that Morales is up to speed after his long layoff before taking away the best alternative option at DH. A few good games from the newly acquired slugger should be all they need to make that determination.

What do you think? Are you OK with Pinto heading back to Triple-A to play regularly, or do you believe the Twins should keep him around and find ways to get him into their lineup?

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Once you're done here, head over to Twins Daily where today you'll find:

* Cody Christie's recap of Tuesday's minor-league action, which almost included a no-hitter.

* SD Buhr's writeup on the Midwest League debuts of Fernando Romero and Lewis Thorpe.

* Cody's updated, post-draft version of the Twins Top 10 Prospects.

* Christopher Fee's interview with Rochester Red Wings manager Gene Glynn.

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