Spring Training is fast becoming a free for all for the Twins. Earlier this week they invited catcher Danny Rams to Fort Myers. Rams is the 27th non-roster invitee in camp this season. There is good reason to think he might be the last. First, Spring Training has already begun, and any other invitees would be crashing the party pretty late. Second, Rams took the last unoccupied locker stall in the Hammond Stadium clubhouse. If the Twins feel the need to bring someone else in, they’d better hope he packs light!
To say that Rams is unlikely to win a spot with the Twins would be a massive understatement. He is an intriguing prospect, but he yet to spend a full season above Class A ball (he did make a cameo at AA in 2010, but it lasted only 14 plate appearances). Rams is in camp primarily to help ensure that the abundance of pitchers (33 of them) has enough catchers to catch their pitches. Rams is the ninth catcher in camp with the Twins, joining Major Leaguers Joe Mauer, Drew Butera, and Ryan Doumit and non-roster invitees Chris Herrmann, Danny Lehmann, Rene Rivera, Daniel Rohlfing, and JR Towles.
The Twins website does not list Rams’s jersey number yet. He wore number 35 with the Ft. Myers Miracle last year, but for some reason I do not think Ron Gardenhire might not let him wear that one with the Twins.
The 23 year old Rams can hit for power. That is probably why the Twins felt confident spending a second round draft pick on him in 2007. In 2009 he began putting up solid homer numbers with 13 in 250 at bats. The next season he socked 16 homers in 421 at bats. His power dropped this season to just eight homers in 309 at bats, but we can probably forgive him that, because he was playing in the Florida State League all year, and it’s tough to hit one out of that league’s spacious stadiums.
But Rams’s tendency to whiff is as disturbing as his power is encouraging. In 2008 at Elizabethton, he struck out in 42.8% of his plate appearances! Since then, he’s reached triple digits in strikeouts every year: 102 in 2009, 154 in 2010, and 100 last year. Getting on base is a problem, too. Rams has a career OBP of just .310. The good news is that his strikeout rates have steadily declined since that 2008 campaign. From 2009 through 2011, his rates were 36.3%, 33.2%, and 29.2%. It’s doubtful that Rams will ever be a disciplined hitter, but if he can continue to drop those rates for the next couple of seasons, he could start rising up the Twins’ top prospect lists.
Since Rams is a catcher, it’s okay to forgive some shortcomings. Strong hitting catchers are incredibly rare, so a catcher with one hitting tool (in Rams’s case, power) can be a Major League asset. If Rams gets a shot at New Britain this season, he may have more of a chance to display that power than he did in 2011. In the meantime, I hope the Twins manage to get Rams a couple of Spring Training at bats. If he can run into one and hit a long home run, that kind of image will make a big impression down the road.
This was the 27th piece in a 25 part series on the Twins’ non-roster invitees. If the Twins defy logic and invite someone else, you can expect Puckett’s Pond to do number 28 soon afterward. Bring it on! If you would like to read the first 26 articles in this series, you can find them here.