Minnesota Twins Rookies

Last night, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout were awarded the Rookie of the Year awards, in the National and American League, respectively.  Harper and Trout did amazing things as rookies, and in the case of Mike Trout, had the best season a rookie has ever had.  Harper helped the Washington Nationals win their division, and Trout did his part to keep the Los Angeles Angels relevant until the final week of the season.  Minnesota Twins, on the other hand, had plenty of rookies suit up for them in 2012, but outside of Scott Diamond, none of them did much of anything to help the Twins win games (in fairness, the rest of the team was not exactly doing a lot to help the Twins win games either).

Scott Diamond (photo: Genevieve Ross/AP)

MLB classifies rookies as any player with less than 130 at bats or 50 innings pitched  or any player with less 45 or less days on the active roster during any part of the season other than September).  Using the at bat and innings pitched limits, the Twins used 16 different players in 2012 that qualified as rookies: Brian Dozier, Chris Parmelee, Darin Mastroianni, Pedro Florimon, Matt Carson, Eduardo Escobar, Erik Komatsu, Chris Herrmann, Scott Diamond, Liam Hendriks, Sam Deduno, Cole De Vries, Tyler Robertson, Lester Oliveros, Kyle Waldrop, and Casey Fien.  That’s 16 out of 47 total players used in 2012 for the Twins, or a little bit more than 1 out of every 3 Twins.  That is a lot of youth especially considering the Twins only called up a limited number of players in September, and just two rookies (Herrmann and Escobar).

As a group, those 16 rookies accounted for a grand total of 4.1 Wins Above Replacement.  They were led by Scott Diamond with 2.2 WAR, and at the other end was Liam Hendriks, -1.2 WAR.  In between the Twins saw surprisingly positive performances from waiver claim Darin Mastroianni(.8 WAR) and defensive specialist Pedro Florimon (.8 WAR).   The Twins were also disappointed by break-out candidate Chris Parmelee (-.6 WAR) and would-be lefty-specialist Tyler Robertson.

Here, alphabetically, is a closer look at each of the Twins’ 2012 rookies, including their status heading into 2013, as several players will still retain their rookie eligibility.

Matt Carson – 31, OF, .227/.246/.242 (BA/OBP/SLG) – Carson exhausted his rookie eligibility in 2012, which is pretty impressive for a guy that is 31 years old and had played in parts of two previous seasons.  The Twins called Matt Carson up late in the season when they were a little short on outfielders and Ron Gardenhire really seemed to enjoy having him around.  He’s unlikely to return to Minneapolis in 2013, as he is off of the 40 man roster, and the Twins have plenty of young outfielders just waiting to break onto the Major League roster.

Cole De Vries – 27, RHP, 87.2/4.11/58/18 (IP/ERA/SO/BB) – Cole De Vries was the right guy in the right place at the right time in 2012.  After signing as an undrafted free-agent in 2006 out of the University of Minnesota, De Vries spent the better part of the last six years quietly working his way through the Minnesota’s farm system.  De Vries struggled in 2010 (after being converted to a bullpen guy) between AA New Britain and AAA Rochester, but in 2011 he turned things around and despite starting the year back in Double-A, he finished the year in Rochester with a combined 3.40 ERA.  De Vries started 2012 in Rochester (once again as a starting pitcher) and when the arms were falling off of every Twins starting pitcher with a hear beat, he was called up to the big leagues and performed better than many had expected.  De Vries has lost his rookie eligibility heading into 2013, but he remains on the 40-man roster and has an outside chance of being the Twins’ 5th starter this spring.

Samuel Deduno – 29, RHP, 79.0/4.44/57/53 – Deduno was having himself a very surprising 2012 campaign until a string of bad starts toward the tail end of the season ballooned his ERA over 4.  Deduno is a guy that has great movement on his pitches, but unfortunately not even he knows where the ball is likely to end up and as a result, Deduno finished the year with almost as many walks as strike outs.  Deduno seemed to get a handle on his wildness about half way through his season, and will need to show increased control this spring but could battle De Vries for that 5th spot in the rotation.  Deduno is on the 40-man roster and has exhausted his rookie eligibility.

Scott Diamond – 26, LHP, 173.0/3.54/90/31 – He turned out to be the Twins’ most effective starting pitcher in 2012, leading the team in innings, and providing the Twins with a reliable performance every fifth day.  Without Diamond the Twins’ best starter would have been Samuel Deduno, certainly not anyone’s idea of a staff ace.  Diamond is the only starting pitcher from the 2012 staff that has been guaranteed a spot in the 2013 rotation, and if the Twins can do enough in free agency, Diamond slots in as a solid number 3.  Like Deduno, Diamond remains on the 40-man roster and is no longer eligible as a rookie.

Brian Dozier – 25, SS, .234/.271/.332 – Brian Dozier used up his rookie eligibility early on in 2012, accumulating 316 at bats en route to a mostly disappointing Major League debut.  After a red hot 2011, Dozier started 2012 in Rochester and after a great first few weeks he was eventually promoted and was starting at shortstop for the Twins by early May.  To play defense as poorly as Dozier played in 2012 he has to hit better than Alexi Casilla.  Unfortunately, event after a lengthy adjustment period, Dozier never really put things together with the Twins and was eventually demoted in the middle of August after an 0/4 day.  The team likely still believes that Dozier has potential as a middle infielder, maybe not just at shortstop.  If he has another hot spring and plays well in Rochester, he could find himself right back on the Major League roster.  Dozier remains on the 40 man roster, but is no longer a rookie.

Eduardo Escobar – 23, MI, .227/.271/.227 – Escobar had just 49 plate appearances over 14 games for the Twins after being traded from the White Sox in the Francisco Liriano deal.  Escobar is unlikely to be anything more than a utility infielder, but the Twins suddenly find themselves with a handful of below average middle infield types, and Escobar will likely need to surprise the Twins with a strong half-season in Rochester if he wants to join the team again before next September.  Escobar finished the season with 138 career at bats, just over the rookie threshold, but remains on the 40-man roster.

Casey Fien – 29, RHP, 35.0/2.06/32/9 – Fien has twice before (2009/10, Detroit) made September appearances for a Big League club, but 2012 with the Twins was the first time he had any amount of success.  Fien had some surprisingly good performances for the Twins in his 35 innings, as evidenced by his shiny 2.06 ERA and 32/9 strike out to walk ratio, and at 49.0 innings pitched over his career, he still has rookie eligibility heading into 2013.  Fien came up from Rochester in early July and pitched well in 35 appearances.  I expect him to be a part of the bullpen as the team departs Fort Myers next spring.  He is on the 40-man roster.

Pedro Florimon – 25, SS, .219/.272/.307 – Florimon was called up in mid-August to replace Brian Dozier.  In 137 at bats (used up his remaining rookie eligibility , Florimon was worse than Drew Butera offensively, but defensively he showed glimpses of the fantastic glove work that prompted the Twins to claim him off of waivers following the 2011 season.  Florimon will have to become more consistent with his glove in 2013, but with a lack of any real viable options, the Twins will have to consider him as a member of the 25-man roster, potentially as the starting shortstop.  Florimon is on the 40-man roster.

Liam Hendriks – 23, RHP, 85.1/5.59/50/26 – Despite fantastic numbers in Triple-A, Hendriks was unable to translate his game to the Major League level, and flirted with the MLB record for most consecutive starts to begin a career without a victory.  Hendriks finished the year with a disappointing 1-8 record and an ERA in Jeff Gray territory.  He’s still on the 40-man roster and just 23 years old.  While he’s no longer a rookie, Hendriks has little left to prove in Rochester and if he doesn’t make the team out of spring training, he will likely be the first man called when the Twins need another arm.

Chris Herrmann – 24, C/LF, .056/.105/.056 – Herrmann was a late addition to the Minnesota Twins, joining the Twins at the tail end of the season when Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit were both nicked up and the Twins needed some additional catching depth.  Herrmann struggled to get anything going and did not record his first hit until his fifth game.  Herrmann had a strong season in Double-A and will likely start 2013 in Triple-A.  Herrmann was having a very good Arizona Fall League experience this winter, but an injury cut his winter short.  He retains rookie status and is on the 40-man roster.

Erik Komatsu – 25, OF, .219/.297/.219 – Komatsu was claimed off of waivers from the LA Angels in early May, failed to do much of anything offensively, and defensively was nothing special.  After 15 games in Minnesota the Twins waived Komatsu and because he was drafted by the Angels in the Rule 5 draft, he was returned to the Washington Nationals and finished the year with their AAA club.  My quick calculations show that Komatsu spent 46 days on the MLB roster between the Twins and Cardinals, and thus is no longer rookie eligible and is obviously off of the Twins’ 40-man roster.

Darin Mastroianni – 27, OF, .252/.328/.350 – A waiver-claim and success story, Mastroianni joined the Twins on May 10th and spent the remainder of the year with the Big League club as a fourth outfielder.  Mastro excelled as a backup outfielder, player above average defense and hitting enough not to embarrass himself.  He is a speedy base runner and stole 21 bases while being caught only 3 times.  Mastroianni exhausted his rookie eligibility in 2012, remains on the 40-man roster, and will likely return to Minneapolis in 2013 with a similar role.

Lester Oliveros – 25, RHP, 1.2/.5.4/1/1 – Oliveros made just one appearance for the Twins in 2012 and was eventually shut down and underwent Tommy John surgery.  Oliveros will rehab all of 2013 and if he comes back healthy in 2014 could be a candidate to earn a bullpen spot.  For now he remains rookie eligible and on the 40-man roster.

Chris Parmelee – 24, 1B/RF, .229/.290/.380 – While his 2012 September performance certainly did not match his 2011, he posted a 1102 OPS in Rochester with 17 home runs and 17 doubles in just 64 games.  Parmelee played the same number of games with the Twins, but his OPS was just 671, though he had 17 extra base hits and while 2012 was a disappointment for Parmelee in the Major Leagues, he should head in to 2013 and a chance to be an everyday player for the Twins.  He no longer has rookie eligibility and remains on the 40-man roster.

Tyler Robertson – 24, LHP, 25.0/5.4/26/14 – I am enamored with Tyler Robertson and I think he has the ability to be the Twins’ best left-handed option out of the bullpen not named Glen Perkins.  If Robertson can improve his stuff so that he is even marginally effective against right handed batters he has a chance to stick with the Twins for years to come.  At this point Robertson retains his rookie eligibility and remains on the 40-man roster.

Kyle Waldrop – 27, RHP, 21.1/2.53/7/6 – Kyle Waldrop appeared in 17 games out of the bullpen for the Twins in 2012 and despite a low ERA, was relatively ineffective, largely due to his inability to keep guys off the base paths.  Waldrop’s WHIP (Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched) was 1.547 and only Nick Blackburn (1.713) had a worse WHIP this past season.  Waldrop doesn’t have great strike out numbers in the Minor Leagues either, posting just a 2.8 SO/BB ratio over parts of 8 seasons, but he’s consistenly had an ERA around 3, even in the high Minors, so he might get another shot to make the bullpen for the Twins next spring.  Kyle Waldrop still retains his rookie eligibility having thrown just 32.1 innings in the Major Leagues, but he was removed from the 40-man roster this winter, so he faces an uphill battle.

And that’s it.  Those are all of the rookies that made an appearance for the Twins a year ago.  None of them even sniffed Rookie of the Year honors.