Seedlings to Stars continues its countdown of the 100 top prospects in baseball, and Twins infielder Brian Dozier has earned the 77th spot on the list. Dozier’s selection puts him three spots ahead of fellow Twin prospect Liam Hendriks, who was chosen as number 80 earler this week. While Hendriks was the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Dozier was the organization’s Minor League Hitter of the Year.
Dozier kind of came out of nowhere this season. He did hit .349/.414/.422 in 2009, but that was in Rookie League ball, so not alot of people paid attention to his hitting. The next year, Dozier’s stat line fell to a respectable but unimpressive .275/.350/.349. In retrospect, perhaps his drop in numbers can be blamed on the pitchers’ parks that fill the Florida State League, since Dozier spent most of the year at Fort Myers. This year he started at Fort Myers again, but he suddenly began to hit everything. In 49 games with the Miracle, he hit .322/.423/.472. After a promotion to New Britain, Dozier continued the hitting with a .318/.384/.502. In addition to the eye-catching on-base numbers, Dozier showed some extra base power with 33 doubles and 12 triples.
S2S compares Dozier to Jamey Carroll, but I am reminded more of Jason Bartlett. Like Bartlett, Dozier is a right handed offense-first shortstop who is competent in the field. Like Bartlett, Dozier has hit well over .300 in the minors with some doubles and triples power. And like Bartlett, Dozier has shown some ability to steal bases, albeit with a low success rate. This season Dozier stole 24 bases but was caught 11 times. Bartlett stole 41 for New Britain in 2003, but was caught an alarming 24 times. Interestingly, Bartlett’s minor league career path followed a similar route. After hitting well in short season ball, Bartlett slumped at high A in 2002. But he recovered and was hitting very well by the time he reached AA at age 23. Bartlett broke into the Majors for a cup of coffee in 2004 at age 24.
Dozier came very close to receiving his own September callup this year, but he ultimately didn’t make the cut (mostly because he wasn’t on the 40 man roster). He will almost certainly see some Major League action in 2012. I would be very surprised if Dozier didn’t start the season with Rochester, since he could use a little more time to hone his game. But injuries to middle infielders are inevitable, and Dozier should be one of the first to get the call when a player does go down.
If Dozier’s 2011 season was not a fluke, he could be the answer to a lot of this organization’s prayers. The Twins system hasn’t produced a legitimate starting middle infielder since Bartlett (Bartlett was originally drafted by the Padres, but he spent most of his minor league time with the Twins), and the result is that second base and shortstop have been revolving doors for subpar players. The Twins have many needs, but a young shortstop who can hit and field well has to be at the top of the list. If everything goes well, Dozier may be an All Star one day. I sincerely hope this happens, because Dozier’s name would allow some excellent nickname opportunities. “Bull” Dozier comes to mind.
If 2011 was a fluke, well, at least Dozier should be a decent option as a utility player. He can get on base in an emergency, he can pinch run, and he can play both second and short, which is exactly the type of player teams love to have on the bench.