Brian Dozier began the season as the most promising Twins prospect with a chance to reach the Big League club. That chance has now become a reality, as the Twins will call Dozier and Scott Diamond up after the series against Seattle ends. Unfortunately, every time a player gets called up, another player has to leave. Dozier will replace Justin Morneau, whose wrist injury will land him on the Disabled List. It is not known for sure who Diamond will replace, but speculation is that Liam Hendriks will have to hop a plane to Rochester.
Dozier turned heads last season when he hit .320/.399/.491 between Fort Myers and New Britain. That hitting line was enough to earn him the 77th slot on Seedlings to Stars’ Top 100 prospect list. For the first two weeks of the 2012 season, Dozier seemed intent on climbing the rankings even further, and he kept his batting average well over .400. He cooled off, though, and now owns a still respectable .276/.339/.371 line with Rochester. He can play shortstop and second base, which means he will probably split playing time with both Alexi Casilla and Jamey Carroll.
Despite Dozier’s elevated numbers from 2011, fans probably should not expect too much from him at the Big League level this season. Very few hitters make that jump without some drop in productivity as they get used to facing the most talented pitchers on planet Earth. Former Twins shortstop Jason Bartlett might offer a glimpse at how Dozier will do. Like Dozier, Bartlett was a solid contact-hitting shortstop with good speed when he got a callup in 2005. And Bartlett was also 25 years old, the age Dozier will be in just 10 days. In 72 games that year, Bartlett hit .241 with a .316 on-base percentage. The experience seemed to pay off, though, as Bartlett raised his average to .309 the next season. If Dozier can follow a similar trajectory, he will probably rate as a successful prospect.
Most of us will remember Diamond from last season, when he made seven starts for the Twins after the season had been written off as a loss. He got knocked around both in the Majors and in the minors in 2011, but his first six starts in Rochester this year have been significantly better. He holds a 2.60 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 34.2 innings. Diamond is not a strikeout pitcher, and his stuff is not overpowering, so it remains to be seen whether his talents can translate into Major League success. But given the immense disappointments that the Twins current crop of starters seems to create every game, any positive contribution from Diamond would be welcome. If he can manage to throw a few quality starts, he’ll make the Twins a better team. If not, at least he will help show the team whether he is a viable option for 2013.
With the Twins currently sitting at 7-19 (technically they are 7-18 as I write this, but they have a seven run deficit against Felix Hernandez, so I’ll count that as a loss), it was time for the team to make some moves with an eye to the future. The Dozier and Diamond call-ups are exactly that kind of move. Both players can figure into the team’s mid to long term plans, and the experience they gain this year can pay dividends down the road.