Brian Dinkelman hit a lot of singles last year. The Twins called him up to the Majors briefly in June, then again in September, and he banged out base hits on a regular basis, at one point raising his average to .386. But it wasn’t until September 24th that he finally recorded his first MLB extra base hit: a double off Indians pitcher Mitch Talbot. The double seemed to deflate Dinkelman, and he went 0 for 11 the rest of the season. But he still finished with a .301 batting average.
Overall, it was a positive first Big League stint for Dinkelman, who comes to Spring Training with the hope of latching on to the roster as a backup. The 28 year old prospect has a psychological leg up on the competition; while the other non-roster invitees all have numbers in the 70s and 80s, Dinkelman will wear the more appropriate number 26 on his back.
Just like former #26 Al Newman, Dinkelman can play multiple positions. The bulk of his minor league experience has been at second base, but he has played close to 300 games at the two corner outfield positions, and he even spent 14 games at shortstop in 2008. You can find a brief interview with Dinkelman here. It’s an interesting video, complete with a jaunty John Fogerty tune in the background – though the song “Centerfield” was probably a bad choice, because that is only outfield position Dinkelman does not play. But he might be athletic enough to do so; he displayed some great range and leaping ability in right field (and also saved Liam Hendriks‘s stat line) with this impressive catch last August.
Dinkelman was the Twins 8th round pick in 2006 out of McKendree College in Illinois. In the minors, he soon established himself as a decent contact hitter. His breakout season in the minors was 2009, when he had a .296/.383/.440 line at New Britain. He showed some power, with 38 doubles. But Dinkelman was not able to keep up that production at AAA the last two seasons. For Rochester, his line was a combined .255/.327/.353, and he has struck out nearly twice as many times (192) as he has walked (97). His .346 OBP with the Twins should help prove that he’s caught up to high level pitching, but he’ll need to have a good spring in order to prove to Twins coaches that it wasn’t a fluke.
Whether he sticks with the Twins or not, Dinkelman has already provided more comedic material than most MLB players do in their entire careers. Check out this amusing video of Dinkelman doing his best Bon Jovi impression. It was apparently some kind of commercial for “Vitamin Water,” but somehow it failed to make me run to the store to buy some. Also of note, an Onionesque article from Twinkietown last June. If you thought Dinkelman didn’t go anywhere more interesting than Rochester last summer, think again.