Wednesday, February 19, 2014

14 Minnesota Twins to Watch in '14: Josmil Pinto

The 2013 season wasn't exactly lousy with bright spots for Twins fans.  A few players exceeded expectations, but most of those players had low expectations to begin with.  Most of the young players who the Twins thought they could begin to rely upon scuffled in their MLB debuts (Aaron Hicks, Kyle Gibson and even Oswaldo Arcia to an extent).  One young player was brought up in September and finished that month as one of the Twins' best hitters. 

The 8th most important Twins player in 2014 is Josmil Pinto.

Who is he? 

If everything goes to plan, Pinto is the Twins' catcher of the future.  Pinto has been with the organization since 2006, and he truly emerged as a prospect with a very impressive 2012 season in High-A.  In that season, he hit .295/.361/.473 and earned his first taste of AA.  He followed that up with an even better 2013, hitting .308/.411/.482 in 107 AA games, earning a promotion to AAA on August 1 and then a promotion to the Majors on September 1.  Pinto went out and mashed, collecting 26 hits in 76 September at-bats, including five doubles and four home runs.   

Offensively, Pinto impressed everyone.  There are questions about his defense.  The Twins feel that he has development left and that seems reasonable.  In Baseball Prospectus' top 10 Twins article, they noted that Pinto is a good receiver with leadership skills.  They also laud his arm and catch/throw skills, stating that his glove is at least average.  They also note that his footwork isn't great and he isn't an impact defender.  If Pinto can be just "good" behind the plate, he has a chance to be a really great overall player. 

Why is he important?

Catcher is an important position.  The Twins have had the luxury of having Joe Mauer for nearly a decade, but they no longer have that luxury.  Putting a good offensive catcher in the lineup is something that every team would like to do.  The Twins place great value on defense, so Pinto will need to prove that he can handle his receiver duties.  This seems odd because they actually let Ryan Doumit catch at times, but it's generally true.  There's a reason the Twins signed Kurt Suzuki and seem intent on using him as the starter, at least at the beginning of the season.    

Pinto is the future though.  He'll be 25 next season and he's been a great hitter over the past two seasons.  His September with the Twins was almost certainly more than we can ever expect again, but it does give fans hope that the Twins have their catcher until at least the end of the decade.  He won't be eligible for free agency until 2020, so he'll be cheap labor.  The Twins love cheap labor. 

Paul the Positive Puma's Take:

Pinto's September was outstanding.  It was the highlight of my fan experience in 2013.  In his second game, he had four hits.  He hit his first MLB home run just three days later.  On September 15, he hit a late three-run home run off of Joel Peralta, giving the Twins the lead and one of their last wins of the season.  Then, on September 23, he hit a walk-off single in the Twins actual last win of the season.  Pinto finished the month with a .342/.398/.566 batting line and he was amazingly fun to watch.  I know there isn't much analysis in this paragraph, but I just like Pinto.  I look forward to seeing him play catcher with the Twins for many years. 

Peter the Pessimistic Puma's Take:

I'm going to give you a few names:  Chris Parmelee, Michael Ryan, Steve Lombardozzi, Mark Funderburk.  Yeah, I went Mark Funderburk on you.  Those four had ridiculous September call-ups, and I don't consider any of them to be great Twins.  Lombardozzi won a World Series, but he had a 70 OPS+ that year, so I'm thinking he wasn't a real integral part.  Parmelee is still kicking around, but I'm not sure why.  I'm not even saying Pinto is comparable to any of these guys, but a good September debut is hardly worth getting worked up over. 

Did you see his BABIP?  .440!  That is unbelievable.  Can we trust anything from that month?  He actually struck out a ton and didn't walk much at all.  Now, I don't think that is real either, as Pinto has controlled the strike zone very well in the Minors.  I don't think Pinto is going to be a flop or anything like that.  I think that those penciling him into the Twins lineup in 2014 are going to very disappointed.  First, the Twins signed Kurt Suzuki and playing Suzuki is a very "Twins" move.  Second, Pinto has barely played above AA.  Third, he needs more time to work on his defense. 

I think Pinto will be the Twins' Opening Day catcher in 2015, but doubt we see much of him in 2014. 

What to look for in '14:

Pinto only has 40 games of experience above AA and it appears that Kurt Suzuki will start for the Twins on Opening Day.  Pinto might benefit from some AAA time in 2014, but hopefully he'll force his way onto the Twins active roster sooner than later.  If Pinto does end up in Rochester, make sure to follow his games and reports from his games.  If reports of his defense are positive or encouraging, then he could be heading for Minnesota before long. 

Even if Pinto spends a prolonged period with Rochester, he can have a successful season.  If he continues to hit as he has the past two seasons, the Twins will still be able to rely upon him as their catcher for many years.  The 2014 Twins aren't going to be contenders, so that extra year of service time might be better kept for later.  Personally, I don't like to think that way and I like for my favorite team to field their best possible team.  I truly feel that Pinto makes the Twins better and I hope he spends more time in Minnesota than in Rochester.  Pinto is a hitter and hitters find their way to the Majors. 

I'll be back next week with the 7th most important Twins player in 2014.  Have a nice day, everyone!

If you haven't been paying close attention, I'm counting down the 14 most important Twins players for the 2014 season.  This was just one part in a 14-part series.  If you missed any of the previous installments, just click here as I have put them all in one nice, tidy location for you.  I'm the best.


  1. I completely agree with you. Last season was tough but we should be doing better this time around. I wonder what that guy was saying over at

  2. I agree. I mean, during the course of a season, you never know what could happen. The Tigers have a lot of talent, but they didn't exactly run away with the Central last year, and really, they do underachieve a bit for how stacked their lineup is. Cleveland, of course, had a great season, and Kansas City was in the hunt right up to the end, but it's not inconceivable that the Twins could make a run at the Wild Card or even the Division if a few things break right for them. Keep Pinto up, Suzuki can catch day games and Sundays, and see what happens!

    1. Yep, you put the best possible team on the field and see what happens. No way anyone thought the '01 Twins would contend and they put together a really exciting run.