Dozier showing Twins he's worth a look

  • Article by: LAVELLE E. NEAL III , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 16, 2012 - 7:15 AM

Denied an opportunity to make his Twins debut last season, the infielder is impressing again this spring training.


Infielder Brian Dozier was a 2009 eighth-round draft pick out of Southern Miss who turned heads with his .399 on-base percentage in 2011.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

FORT MYERS, FLA. - Infielder Alexi Casilla returned from the disabled list last Aug. 12. He didn't make it through one full game before reinjuring his right hamstring.

The Twins considered their options. By then, manager Ron Gardenhire had seen many players get called up from Rochester and fail to impress. He was ready for someone different. Someone like Brian Dozier.

"I asked for him,'' Gardenhire said.

Gardenhire's request was denied, as Dozier had only been at Class AA New Britain for part of the season after starting the year at Class A Fort Myers. Now, the Tupelo, Miss., native is putting together a solid spring training that has encouraged the club, making a major league debut this season likely.

He is batting only .214 in camp but has taken good at-bats and has been solid in the field. And, if you look around, he's the best thing going among Twins shortstop prospects right now.

"Dozier has been taking steps up,'' Gardenhire said.

An eighth-round pick in 2009 out of Southern Miss, Dozier hit .320 with a .399 on-base percentage between Fort Myers and New Britain last year, numbers that got the manager's attention. After the season was over, Dozier played for the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .296 with three homers and 22 RBI in 26 games. He should start the season at Class AAA Rochester -- a call away from his major league debut.

He's 24, so there's concern about how much better he can get. But he stepped up last year once he arrived at New Britain and began working with hitting coach Tom Brunansky. Dozier hit seven homers in 78 games with the Rock Cats. It doesn't sound like much, but he hit just seven homers in his previous 239 games in the minors.

"When I got to Double-A, my swing kind of changed,'' Dozier said. "I started to develop into my swing. I worked with Tom Brunansky and it really took off for me.

"I developed more power and was driving balls more than I was used to.''

That was evident Monday when he drove a ball off James Shields for a triple -- although the ball appeared to clear the wall for a home run.

At the same time, Dozier's .382 on-base percentage in the minors suggests he knows the value of being a table-setter.

"Whatever the job is,'' he said, "I try to do it.''

There have been questions about his arm and range, but the Twins believe he has enough of both to play the position well. Dozier says he has plenty of arm for the position, preferring to hold back for when he has to use it. As for range, he feels he made strides in that area during the Fall League while working with Mesa manager Joe McEwing, who helped him get to balls more quickly.

Gardenhire and free-agent signee Jamey Carroll have been working with Dozier to slow things down in the field because he gets too quick at times, which can lead to mistakes. But they both see Dozier's talent and feel he's not far from the majors. One reason the Twins signed the 38-year-old Carroll was to be the bridge to Dozier, but that bridge might not be as long as first believed.

"I liked him last year in camp,'' Gardenhire said. "I thought he was playing really well. He's a good one. But we didn't sign Jamey Carroll to be a holdover. We signed him because he can catch the ball.''

The next time Gardenhire asks for Dozier, he might not get turned down.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Cleveland 86 FINAL
Indiana 93
Washington 81 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Golden State 113 FINAL
Toronto 89
New York 121 FINAL
Detroit 115
Orlando 88 FINAL
Atlanta 95
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Boston 106
LA Clippers 97 FINAL
Memphis 79
Brooklyn 98 FINAL
Houston 102
Miami 102 FINAL
New Orleans 104
Minnesota 89 FINAL
Chicago 96
Utah 104 FINAL
Denver 82
San Antonio 107 FINAL
Sacramento 96
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
Oklahoma City 112 FINAL
Portland 115
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 2
Calgary 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Washington 0 FINAL
Carolina 3
Chicago 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Colorado 5 FINAL(SO)
Dallas 4
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Siena 63 FINAL
Quinnipiac 73
Harvard 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Penn 69 FINAL
Brown 75
Fairfield 65 FINAL
Canisius 72
Manhattan 75 FINAL
Iona 79
Saint Peters 67 FINAL
Marist 69
Princeton 60 FINAL
Yale 81
Ohio 58 FINAL
Akron 70
Dartmouth 84 FINAL
Columbia 71
Valparaiso 56 FINAL
Cleveland State 53
Louisiana Tech 75 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 88
Seton Hall 77 FINAL
Xavier 60
Cornell 54 FINAL
Harvard 60
Yale 49 FINAL
(14) Princeton 67
Elon 51 FINAL
Drexel 54
Northeastern 47 FINAL
James Madison 82
St Johns 60 FINAL
Butler 49
Creighton 71 FINAL
Georgetown 62
Brown 58 FINAL
Penn 75
Columbia 50 FINAL
Dartmouth 60
Canisius 54 FINAL
Siena 58
St Josephs Brooklyn 35 FINAL
Western Carolina 86 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 80
Colorado 66 FINAL
Arizona 51
Southern Ill 72 FINAL
Bradley 66
Drake 59 FINAL
Wichita State 80
Indiana State 71 FINAL
Evansville 53
Illinois State 53 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 67
Northern Iowa 70 FINAL
Missouri State 72
Utah 42 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 46
Providence 62 FINAL
Villanova 71
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Which Twins player are you most interested in during spring training?

Weekly Question