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Chris Parmelee offered Minnesota Twins fans a glimpse of his offensive ability on Monday in Milwaukee, when he launched a majestic, 420-foot home run to center field.
Unfortunately, those glimpses have been entirely too rare for the 25-year-old. The solo shot was just his fourth homer – and seventh extra-base hit – of the season, leaving him with a .215/.293/.331 hitting line. That’s miserable production for a plodding right fielder whose value is tied almost entirely to his bat, and when combined with his similarly ugly .229/.290/.380 mark with the Twins last season, it paints a grim picture regarding Parmelee’s ability to hit major-league pitching.
The Twins keep giving their former first-round pick chances to dig his way out, but Parmelee’s time to prove that he’s got more to offer may be running short, at least here in Minnesota.
Surely this is a situation where the Twins would prefer to exercise patience. They have plenty invested in Parmelee, whose career minor-league track record suggests that he should ultimately be a competent hitter in the majors (maybe more if his small-sample Triple-A numbers are to be believed). Even though he has tripped over himself in two extended MLB chances now, he remains relatively young and inexperienced.
But the window to make an evaluation may be shrinking. Parmelee was added to the 40-man roster following the 2010 season, so the Twins have already used up two of his three options (2011 and 2012). They haven’t used one this year, since he made the big-league roster out of spring training, but it’s hard to imagine he will stick much longer if his offense doesn’t pick up. With an OPS+ of 70 – third-worst on the team ahead of only Brian Dozier and Aaron Hicks, who both at least provide meaningful defensive value – Parmelee has been beyond brutal. Even a rebuilding team in a lost season can’t justify trotting that production out regularly, and if his playing time continues to wane (he’s started only 10 of the team’s last 20 games) it makes little sense to keep him on the roster.
If he’s sent down, Parmelee will suddenly be headed toward a tough spot next spring. The Twins have numerous candidates to fill their outfield and probably would have some interest in retaining Justin Morneau if the cost isn’t exorbitant, so barring a turnaround in performance, Parmelee could be squeezed out. That’s not an ideal outcome for him or the Twins, who would enjoy having a usable inexpensive piece that they can plug in for a few years.
I'm not quit ready to give up on Parmelee but his plate approach has been mostly ugly and, as his results continue to deteriorate rather than improve, it seems like major-league pitchers are gradually figuring him out rather than the other way around. It's not time to cut bait yet, but he has already relegated himself to part-time duty and with Oswaldo Arcia lurking in the minors, his place on the roster is very much in danger.
Should he find himself bumped to Triple-A, he'll have an uphill climb ahead of him in order to remain in this organization long-term.
Make sure to head over to Twins Daily, where today our MLB Draft Profile series continues with Cody Christie's look at Nevada right-hander Braden Shipley. As always, you'll find plenty of other good stuff too.
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