At some point here in the month of May, backup outfielder Darin Mastroianni should come off the disabled list after injuring his ankle during Spring Training. Although not an everyday player even when healthy, one would think that he will find himself once again on the 25-man roster when activated. Mastroianni is an ideal 4th or 5th outfielder on just about any Major League roster with his versatility in the field, speed, and above average base-running abilities. When he returns, it will be interesting to see who makes the trek back to Rochester.
When Mastroianni hit the Disabled List three weeks ago, 21 year old top-prospect Oswaldo Arcia – who was tearing apart AAA pitching – got the call to take his place and play every day. Arcia currently sports a 5 game hitting streak heading into Game 2 of the four game series in Boston, and his average has climbed to a respectable .255. Only Joe Mauer has a higher average (.291) and as many at bats as Arcia on the Twins roster. Like most young players, he’s struggled to keep his strike out totals down, with 17 K’s in 59 plate appearances – 6 K’s in the last two games. He has hit 2 home runs, 3 doubles, and driven in 8 runs during his three weeks in Minnesota.
Arcia seems like the logical choice to be sent back to Rochester, because he was somewhat of a fill-in to begin with. However, even though he hasn’t put up Bryce Harper numbers during this time, one could argue that he has been one of the better hitters and outfielders during this stretch he’s been with the club. If the Twins decide to keep him up in Minnesota for good, who would be the odd-man out for the five outfield spots?
Although Chris Parmelee hit home runs in back-to-back games last week, he’s mostly struggled at the plate. Right now he’s hitting .209 with 3 home runs, 27 strike outs, in 100 plate appearances. He has drawn 10 walks, and he’s third on the team in pitches seen/plate appearance with an average of 4.30. Most think because of the good at bats he’s had, the results will eventually come. He also ripped AAA pitching last year in 64 games to the tune of 17 home runs, 49 RBI’s, an average of .338, and an OBP of .457 – it doesn’t seem like he would benefit greatly from a trip back down a level. He’s also more than likely set to take over for Justin Morneau at first base eventually, so it seems he needs to stay up here and gain that valuable experience.
Rookie Aaron Hicks has had his well-documented struggles in his first month-plus of big league play. Not only is he struggling at the plate, as we all know, his defense has been less than expected as well. In fact tonight in Boston he will start on the bench, partly due to a missed cut-off throw last night, according to manager Ron Gardenhire. He’s had issues judging fly balls as well, as Fangraphs has his Range Runs Above Average at -6.3 runs already. By comparison, last year’s center fielder Denard Span holds a 5.2 RngR right now in Washington – an 11.5 run difference between the two.
If Hicks is sent down, it would definitely leave a gaping hole in the middle of a not-so-rangy outfield to begin with. Either Mastroianni or Wilkin Ramirez would probably have to assume duties, but that would leave either Parmelee or Arcia on the bench on any given night more than likely. That’s not a direction this club would go, and Ryan Doumit certainly won’t be relegated to full-time bench duties to open up the DH spot for Josh Willingham.
That leaves Wilkin Ramirez. While Ramirez has not been bad at all out of a mostly pinch-hitting role thus far, he’s the one player of this bunch that definitely doesn’t have too much of a future with the club. Then again, if Ramirez is the odd man out, that leaves three outfield spots and a DH spot for Willingham, Hicks, Parmelee, Arcia, and Doumit.
To me it seems most likely that Arcia gets sent back down until he’s needed again, but he may already be the best hitter of this group – outside of Willingham – and he’s certainly not the worst defender of this group.
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