March 16, 2011; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves outfielder Wilkin Ramirez (30) during a spring training exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Twins Spring Training Preview: Right Field

Over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve been providing a rundown on who the Twins will have in Spring Training camp at each position, including projected starters and backups, as well as long shots to make the Opening Day roster.

July 4, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Twins first baseman Chris Parmelee (27) runs the bases after hitting a home run as Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera reacts during the fifth inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

More than half of the Twins positional starters are basically set in stone, but we’ll take a look at the contenders where there is competition; many of the more interesting battles in camp will play out for backup spots as the spring progresses. And while even a strong camp will still mean relegation to the minors for a lot of these guys, they’ll be just an injury away from seeing time with the Twins at some point over the course of the season.

So far, we’ve run down the catchersfirstsecond and third baseshortstopleft field and center field. Today, we’ll look at the competition in right field before finishing up with the pitchers later this week.

PROJECTED STARTER: Chris Parmelee
Parmelee posted mediocre numbers in the minors, but followed up an impressive September call up by the Twins in 2011 with a solid spring training last year and ended up an Opening Day starter in 2012. He struggled out of the gate last year, was demoted, called back up to the Twins to basically ride the pine, then absolutely crushed in his first taste of AAA after being sent back down to Rochester. Parmelee had hits in 11 of 12 games since being recalled in late August of last year, including three home runs, raising his average from .204 to .250 before cooling off at the end of the season. The hope is that, with consistent playing time, Parmelee can put it all together in 2013.

The trades of Denard Span and, to a lesser degree, Ben Revere, accomplished two things for the Twins: bringing high-upside arms into the organization and opening up room for Parmelee to play every day at the MLB level. The Twins seem intent on giving Parmelee that every day shot in the bigs this year, and right field is basically his to lose going into spring training. Oddly enough, he didn’t play in the outfield at all in AAA, and he’s a natural first baseman.

Parmelee will probably never be a good defensive outfielder, but if he hits anywhere like he did in AAA or 2011’s call up, his bat will play well enough in right field to make up for his glove, and the team can be confident in trading soon-to-be free agent Justin Morneau and moving Parmelee to first base. If Parmelee hits like he did in his stint with the Twins early last season, the former MVP’s situation becomes more complicated.

PROJECTED BACKUP:
Brandon Boggs

Mar 19, 2011; Glendale, AZ, USA; Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Brandon Boggs bats during a spring training game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

I covered a couple of different scenarios of how the center field competition could play out for the Twins in my center field spring training preview, but what it boils down to is that I expect Darin Mastroianni to begin the season as the team’s starter in center, and Aaron Hicks coming north once the Twins are assured of an extra year of team control with the stud prospect. At that point, Mastroianni will resume providing outstanding value to the club as a fourth outfielder, but I think Boggs has the best chance of breaking camp as the team’s outfield backup; you can read my write up on Boggs here. Ryan Doumit could also see some time here over the course of the season.

LONG SHOTS

If Parmelee completely falls flat on his face this spring, Joe Benson could be in the mix at right field; he’s definitely a long shot here, considering the team’s desire to give Parmelee an extended shot as a starter, but there are a number of scenarios—such as a trade of Morneau—which could land Benson in right at  some point in the season. The Twins will presumably want to see him take reps there this spring. Oswaldo Arcia will get a long look in camp as the team’s right fielder of the future—and that future could come in 2013—but the chances of him breaking camp with the team are very, very low.

I covered Clete Thomas and Wilkin Ramirez in my left field preview; both players will be competing for the fourth outfielder spot, with Ramirez at a disadvantage due to his lack of experience playing in center. Brian Dinkelman is a strong organizational guy who can also play second base.

CONCLUSION
The Twins seem pretty intent on giving Parmelee a second consecutive Opening Day start, but with his natural position being first base, this spring is as much about taking a long look at Arcia and Benson as the long-term future of right field as it is evaluating Parmelee as the team’s short-term solution.

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Tags: Chris Parmelee Minnesota Twins Right Field Spring Training

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