Twins prospects such as Kennys Vargas and Danny Santana are auditioning for the future. But these final two months of the season are not important for them in the same way they are important for these five position players, who seem to be at critical junctures with the organization:
Trevor Plouffe: He’s been hot lately, including a homer and RBI single Wednesday. But while he looks like a more polished hitter at the plate than in previous seasons, his overall numbers look pretty similar to 2012 and 2013. By the end of the year, barring injury, he will have had about 2,000 MLB plate appearances. That’s enough for the Twins to decide where he fits.
Chris Parmelee: Just when we’re ready to give up on Parmelee, he shows signs of life. And as soon as we concede he could be a useful player, he goes in a funk. He has a decent glove at first base and isn’t completely lost in the outfield. But he’ll be closing in on 1,000 career PAs by season’s end. Does he have a role on a better team, particularly if Vargas sticks and Joe Mauer is healthy?
Eduardo Escobar: He’s been a pleasant surprise holding down shortstop since Pedro Florimon lost the job. But this is Danny Santana’s spot long-term, just as Santana is holding down Byron Buxton’s spot in center field. Escobar has shown he can be a very useful utility infielder and spot-starter/injury replacement. But he will need to sustain his good work over the final stretch to make the Twins more confident in his long-term value.
Oswaldo Arcia: Though it seems like he’s been here for a while, he just turned 23. There is time for him to go from a tantalizing streak hitter to a consistent threat. We had high hopes for Arcia, and while his numbers right now aren’t really that far off from his encouraging rookie season, he has arrived here in fits and starts that makes it feel like a disappointment. He has the talent to be in the lineup many days a week on a good team.
Joe Mauer: He’s been at his career-worst at the plate, and as soon as he’s shown signs of life, he’s gotten hurt. Mauer will turn 32 early next season. He has four years left after this one on his massive contract. If he can come back from his injury soon and at least finish this season strong, it would provide some hope for the future. If not, there will be a nagging concern that the old Mauer is gone and instead Mauer is just old.