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When the Twins went out of their way to denigrate Trevor Plouffe at the end of May and demoted him to Rochester, Plouffe could have sulked. He could have folded. Coupled with the media and the Twins manager’s efforts to call him out, Plouffe had an injured finger and missed about a week or game action before playing for the Red Wings. And since then, there has not be a better player anywhere in the Twins system, if not in all of minor league baseball. And frankly, I do not fully understand how he, and specifically his bat, is still in Rochester and not with the Twins.
In early May, Alexi Casilla was really struggling at shortstop. Defensively, he was adequate, but he wasn’t hitting close to .200 and time for change was imminent. Plouffe was hitting well for the Red Wings after a slow start. Plouffe was finally promoted to the big leagues. In his first plate appearance, he hit a home run over the Green Monster at Fenway Park against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. Plouffe would play in 18 games and hit .200 (12-60). However, of those 12 hits, two were doubles and three were home runs. Defensively, he looked more comfortable, until that one bad game. The first bad throw came on a play that Plouffe went deep into the shortstop hole, dove and made a great play, got up and threw too tall for the first baseman. It was a great play unfortunately capped by a bad throw. Soon after, there was a slow roller, and instead of setting and throwing, Plouffe threw on the run. He didn’t get a good grip on the ball and the ball fluttered to 1B too late. I thought that he needed to throw on the run, he just didn’t get anything on it. Some thought he was showboating, which I guarantee was not the case. Soon after, a hard hit, one hopper bounded a way from him. Just one error, but the manager felt the need to call Plouffe out loudly. And then again. And again.
No wonder Plouffe was struggling. Few could play under those circumstances. Plouffe was benched for three games, played another and then back on the bench. There were words between the manager and the media about Plouffe. Plouffe was upset that Gardenhire made it so public. It wasn’t pretty and soon Plouffe was headed back to Rochester. Sure, Luis Rivas and Alexi Casilla got 4-5 years worth of opportunities. Plouffe got 12 starts. Does anyone think that the manager will ever play Plouffe on a regular basis at SS? Of course not.
Again, Plouffe could have sulked and been frustrated when he went back to Triple-A. He missed some games with the finger injury. However, since he started playing, he has been incredible. In 18 June games, he hit .310/.388/.648 with five doubles, two triples and five home runs. In six games so far in July, he has hit .400/520/.1.000 with four home runs. Plouffe has hit 15 home runs in Rochester now to go with the three he hit with the Twins. In 2010, Plouffe had 15 home runs with the Red Wings and two homers for the Twins, all season. He already has a combined 18 homers this year and it is through July 5!
Since Plouffe’s return, he has played all over the field. Yes, he has played some at shortstop. He has played 2B. He has played right field and left field. We know he can play 3B, and in Game 2 on Tuesday night, he played 1B. Clearly the Twins now plan for him to be a super utility player, which is not a bad thing.
Regardless, there is no question that Trevor Plouffe’s bat needs to be on the Twins roster and most days in the Twins lineup. So, how do we get him there? Well, do the Twins really need a third catcher? That is kind of redundant and ridiculous. Matt Tolbert can play four infield positions, but can’t hit. He could go down. Luke Hughes hasn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire at 1B, so Plouffe could take his spot. For me, that is the order in which I would send guys down to get Plouffe up here. Maybe they’re waiting for him to get a little more comfortable at a few more positions.
Trevor Plouffe could then play all four infield positions. He can also play both corner outfield positions. Worried about his outfield defense? As Josh Johnson tweeted on Tuesday night, Delmon Young has played a lot of LF, how much worse can Plouffe be out there? Who knows? Plouffe could probably even pitch if necessary! Remember when the Twins used their first pick in the 2004 draft to take Plouffe as a shortstop. Many teams considered drafting him as a pitcher.
Hey, even if none of us expects Plouffe to maintain an OPS north of 1.000 in the big leagues, he has earned another opportunity for a big league job!
Rochester Red Wings
As you may have noticed, Trevor Plouffe was the star of this double header. In the two games, he went 3-4 with four walks and three home runs. So what happened besides Plouffe?
In the first game, the Red Wings beat the Paw Sox 13-3. Former Twins pitcher Matt Fox started for the Paw Sox. He gave up 11 runs on ten hits and two walks in just 2.2 innings. Kevin Slowey started for the Red Wings. He gave up two runs on four hits and four hit batters in 2.2 innings. Chuck James gave up one run on two hits and two walks in 2.1 innings. Dusty Hughes recorded two strikeouts in 1.1 scoreless innings. Kyle Waldrop struck out two in one perfect inning. The Red Wings hit six home runs in the game. Plouffe hit two. Dustin Martin went 2-4 with his eighth homer. Brandon Roberts went 2-4 with his first homer. Delmon Young was 2-4 and hit the first pitch that he saw on the day out for a home run. Danny Lehmann hit his second homer and drove in three. Toby Gardenhire went 1-2 with two walks and his tenth double.
In the second game, the Red Wings lost 4-2. Brandon Roberts and Trevor Plouffe each homers. Jeff Bailey had two hits. Delmon Young went 0-3. Cole DeVries made his first start of the year. He gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks in 2.2 innings. Thomas Diamond threw 2.2 scoreless innings, despite allowing four hits and three walks. Jim Hoey went 1.2 scoreless innings.
New Britain Rock Cats
The Rock Cats lost 7-2 to New Hampshire. Brett Jacobson gave up seven runs on ten hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out six. Deolis Guerra struck out two in two scoreless innings. Tyler Robertson gave up one hit in a scoreless inning. Joe Benson returned to the Rock Cats lineup. He went 1-2 with a double. He hit a sacrifice fly and was hit by a pitch. He even threw out a runner at home. Chris Parmelee went 1-2 with two walks and his seventh home run.
Ft. Myers Miracle
Ft. Myers lost 9-2 to St. Lucie. The Miracle managed just four hits. Steve Liddle hit his tenth double. Oswaldo Arcia went 1-2 and is hitting .313 (he went 4-5 the day before). Kane Holbrooks started and gave up two runs on nine hits in five innings. Ricky Bowen gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in his inning. Matt Tone gave up five runs on five hits and a walk in just 0.2 innings. Bruce Pugh got the final four outs, two via the strikeout.
Beloit lost to Wisconsin 8-3. Manuel Soliman gave up six runs (5 earned) on seven hits and a walk. He struck out three in his 4.1 innings. Blayne Weller then gave up two runs on four hits and two walks in two innings. Andrei Lobanov was perfect for 1.2 innings. Ben Tootle struck out two in a scoreless inning. Tyler Grimes went 2-3 with his first pro home run. Adam Bryant went 2-4 with his fourth double. Michael Gonzales hit his 14th double.
A sacrifice fly by Jairo Rodriguez and a Niko Goodrum RBI single gave the E-Twins a 6-4 lead in the top of the 9th, a lead they would hold for the win. Tim Shibuya started and gave up four runs on six hits and two walks in four innings. Derek Christensen threw two scoreless innings. Pedro Guerra threw a shutout frame. Madison Boer struckout two in a scoreless eighth inning for the win. Matt Summers struck out two in a scoreless inning for the save. (Summers now has two innings pitched with the E-Twins and five strikeouts. Goodrum went 2-4. Nick Lockwood hit a triple. Miguel Sano hit his third home run.
The GCL Twins beat the GCL Rays 8-3. Hein Robb threw three hitless innings to start. Matthew Tomshaw gave up two runs (1 earned) on one hit in two innings. He struck out two. Mark Trau came in and gave up one run on one hit and three walks without recording an out. Marcus Limon came in and struckout three in three scoreless innings. Markus Solbach threw a scoreless inning. Phillip Chapman was 2-4 with two doubles. Michael Quesada was 2-3 with two three-run home runs. Josh Hendricks went 3-5 with a double. Hendricks began the season by going 0-16. Since then, he is 10-15 and is now hitting .323.
Any other thoughts or questions on the Twins minor leaguers? Feel free to comment here.