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Tuesday (Who is Josmil Pinto, anyway?) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Professional baseball, Twins fans Updated: September 10, 2013 - 9:57 AM

 

AP photo

AP photo

His last name is just one letter off from the most polarizing Twins player of the Ron Gardenhire Era (Nick Punto), or at least the most polarizing player not from St. Paul.

 

He is apparently rough around the edges when it comes to the finer points of playing catcher.

And he wasn't really a top prospect.

But now, albeit in a short MLB sample size, Josmil Pinto is making people take notice.

After cracking three doubles Monday night -- one to left and one to right off rough righty Jered Weaver -- Pinto is hitting .565 with six extra base hits in 23 major league at bats. Just that easy, right?

Well, no. But his track record suggests he could be more than just a one-hit (or three-hit) wonder.

Pinto hit .295 with some pop in 2012, mostly at high-A Ft. Myers.

This season, he hit .309 with 14 homers in the minors, mostly at Class AA New Britain with 70 more at bats coming at Class AAA Rochester. Just as encouraging is that he lifted his OBP to a startling .400 in the minors this year on the strength of 64 walks at New Britain. That suggests a young hitter (24) who is gaining command of the strike zone (he has a pair of walks in the majors so far, too).

And his emergence at lower levels and in the majors so far is important on a number of fronts, as will be his final few weeks of the season. If Pinto impresses enough to make the Twins think he can be a contributor in 2014, at least in a part-time role, it could influence a number of decisions.

If Joe Mauer is staying at catcher -- at least for 80-90 games a season -- which it sounds like he wants to, it creates a surplus. Pinto can catch. Chris Herrmann has shown, at least, that he isn't a liability. Ryan Doumit has another year left on his contract.

If Pinto is up to stay in 2014, it makes Doumit expendable and it makes sense for Mauer to DH or play first base for 60-70 games a season ... which potentially makes it less likely the Twins would try to bring back Justin Morneau.

Like we said, an important few weeks all around.

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