The rookie first baseman has impressed manager Ron Gardenhire enough he could figure in next season's plans.
CLEVELAND - Most Twins officials wouldn't have said this when they promoted Chris Parmelee to the majors from Class AA New Britain on Sept. 6, but he might be an answer at first base for next season if Justin Morneau needs to become a full-time designated hitter.
"He's a glimmer of hope, if you have issues or something like that," manager Ron Gardenhire said of Parmelee Saturday. "Can he handle it? I don't know, but we're seeing a pretty good player right now. It's fun to watch."
It's dangerous reading too much into September performance, since rosters expand, diluting the talent pool, but Parmelee did nothing but impress before Saturday, when he went 0-for-8 with five strikeouts in a doubleheader against Cleveland.
That served as a reminder that Parmelee, 23, has a ways to go before establishing himself as an everyday major league player, but he's come a long way since the Twins made him a first-round draft pick (No. 20 overall) out of Chino Hills (Calif.) High School in 2006.
"I'm impressed with his maturity, his skills and his balance at the plate," Twins veteran Carl Pavano said. "He actually reminds me of Joe [Mauer] a lot, the way he takes pitches, the way he stays really balanced. Whether it's a breaking ball or fastball, it just seems like he's never surprised."
Before Saturday, Parmelee had just six strikeouts in his first 62 plate appearances and was batting .389 with a .468 on-base percentage and .630 slugging percentage. He hit three homers in a seven-day span; Mauer hit three this season, and Morneau hit four.
For a much larger sample size, here's how Parmelee fared over the past two seasons at Class AA New Britain: .282 average, .355 OBP, .436 SLG with 19 homers in 1,073 plate appearances. Few ranked him among the Twins' top 10 prospects.
"If somebody's looking for negatives, then they're just a negative person because he's doing exactly what a young player needs to do this time of year," Gardenhire said. "He's opening eyes. He's making people take a step back and go, 'Hey, this guy might be able to help us next year -- right from Double-A.' "
Parmelee has taken all of this in stride. It was just last season that he got demoted from New Britain to Class A Fort Myers.
"I was lacking some confidence when I got sent back down, but I gained that back in Fort Myers, and then I got sent back up [in June 2010]," he said. "I feel like it's helped my career. At the time, I really didn't understand it, but the Twins did what was best for me, as they always do."
Over the past two years, Parmelee has toned up his 6-3 frame, leveled out an upper-cut swing, developed more plate discipline and shored up his defense.
He still has a ways to go defensively, and there are holes in his swing that big league scouts are sure to exploit by the time he starts facing teams a second time, but most of his at-bats have been impressive.
He's not afraid to take a big, aggressive cut on the first pitch of an at-bat, and he shortens up his swing with two strikes, something Gardenhire calls "a lost art."
With Morneau recovering from another concussion, the Twins wonder if they'll need alternatives at first base. Mauer can play first base, but he wants to become a full-time catcher again, and Michael Cuddyer is a pending free agent.
Meanwhile, Parmelee is seizing his opportunity to make an impression.
"I couldn't be happier," he said. "It's been a learning experience, and I'm grateful for that."
|NY Mets - LP: J. Hefner||2||FINAL|
|Chicago Cubs - WP: S. Feldman||8|
|Seattle - LP: O. Perez||4||FINAL|
|Cleveland - WP: C. Perez||5|
|Toronto - LP: B. Morrow||2||FINAL|
|NY Yankees - WP: D. Phelps||7|
|Cincinnati - WP: B. Arroyo||10||FINAL|
|Philadelphia - LP: K. Kendrick||0|
|Chicago WSox - LP: N. Jones||9||FINAL|
|LA Angels - WP: R. Coello||12|
|Tampa Bay - WP: A. Torres||10||FINAL|
|Baltimore - LP: J. Johnson||6|
|Houston - WP: J. Cisnero||4||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - LP: B. Morris||2|
|Los Angeles - LP: K. Jansen||1||FINAL|
|Atlanta - WP: C. Gearrin||3|
|Boston - WP: C. Breslow||12||FINAL|
|Minnesota - LP: S. Diamond||5|
|Arizona - WP: B. McCarthy||1||FINAL|
|Miami - LP: T. Koehler||0|
|Milwaukee - WP: J. Axford||6||FINAL|
|St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly||4|
|Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez||2||FINAL|
|Texas - WP: J. Grimm||7|
|San Francisco - LP: T. Lincecum||2||FINAL|
|Colorado - WP: T. Chatwood||10|
|Washington - LP: J. Zimmermann||1||FINAL|
|San Diego - WP: E. Stults||2|
|Kansas City - LP: E. Santana||1||FINAL|
|Oakland - WP: T. Milone||2|