Chris Parmelee's 2012 season could be looked at in two different ways. On the one hand, you had a rookie hitter who looked overwhelmed against major-league pitching. On the other hand, you had a 24-year-old absolutely demolishing in his first exposure to Triple-A pitching. He was far and away the best hitter in the International League that year.
He followed up with a 2013 season that was simply a mess, both in the majors and the minors, and as a result he was outrighted from the 40-man roster this spring. He passed through waivers (somewhat surprisingly, from my view) and now he's back in Rochester. Once again he is looking fantastic at the plate.
In 29 games for the Red Wings, Parmelee is hitting .327/.398/.589 with seven homers, seven doubles, 23 RBI and a solid 20/13 K/BB ratio. On Sunday he went 3-for-5 with two bombs and five RBI. He has a .939 lifetime OPS at the Triple-A level. He has mastered it.
The problem is that he hasn't proven to be a good enough hitter in the majors. Since an impressive September call-up in 2011, Parmelee has hit .228/.302/.364 in 186 games with the Twins, and that's pretty terrible production for a guy who offers almost no defensive value.
Because of the disparity between his numbers in Triple-A and the majors, many have branded Parmelee as a "AAAA player" -- a tweener who's too good for the minors but not quite good enough for the show. Maybe that's what he is, but it seems too soon to affix that label.
Keep in mind: Parmelee is still only 26 years old. That's one year younger than Trevor Plouffe, who finally seems to be turning the corner now. And although he's been given several different opportunities with the Twins, Parmelee's MLB experience amounts to 631 plate appearances, which is barely more than one full season's worth.
There's a saying that you don't know what you have in a player until he's reached the 1,000-AB threshold in the majors. Parmelee isn't close to that yet, and I'd say some extra patience is warranted in his case considering his age, his status as a former first-round pick and his domination at the highest level of the minors. It's too soon to give up on him being a useful piece.
The problem, of course, is that there's no room for him on the major-league roster. The Twins already have Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel, Chris Colabello and Pinto occupying the DH/corner outfielder mix, with Oswaldo Arcia set to return shortly and Josh Willingham not far behind.
If Mauer's back injury forces him to the disabled list, it's possible the Twins could bring Parmelee back into the fold. He probably wouldn't be in line for regular playing time, at least not right away, but he could be plugged in against some righties with the opportunity to earn a regular gig. That would be a very beneficial development for the Twins.
At the end of the day, regardless of your feelings about Parmelee, he still probably has a better chance to be a long-term asset for this club than Colabello or Kubel. At a time when every decision ought to be made with the future in mind, at least to some extent, that needs to be a primary consideration.
What do you think? What should the Twins do with Parmelee?
Once you're done here, head over to Twins Daily to get your baseball fix. Today we've got:
* Parker's analysis of Ricky Nolasco's declining strikout rate.
* Cody Christie's review of Tuesday's happenings in the Twins minor-league system, including Byron Buxton's first home run.
* S.D. Buhr's profile of Cedar Rapids starter Aaron Slegers, who is off to a tremendous start for the Kernels.