On Friday, Chris Colabello was optioned back to Rochester to make space for Ryan Doumit’s return from a concussion. Colabello was starting to hold his own in the Majors with a .288/.403/.538 triple split and four homers and seven RBIs over his previous 17 games. Now he’ll start playing again in Triple-A, even though he has nothing left to prove there, owning the lead in numerous offensive categories. This begs the question, will Colabello ever be back for good with the Twins or will he become a “Quadruple-A player?”
Whether it is simply bad timing based on a collection of players falling into the category, or a system wide problem cropping up with the Twins, several players are in danger of officially being labeled Quad-A players. Simple enough, AAAA players are those who dominate Triple-A, but can’t seem to stick in the Majors. Somehow they can’t handle big league pitching/hitters or can’t carve their own place on the team and get sent back down to Triple-A, even though they really have nothing left to prove at that level.
With regards to the Twins, they have several starting pitchers who have earned call-ups and the opportunity win a consistent starting job, only to get demoted after poor performances. P.J. Walters leads the charge as a pitcher who has performed well enough in Rochester but performed poorly with the Twins both this year and 2012. Pedro Hernandez started the year off as the 5th Twins starter but couldn’t stick with the club after a couple of awful outings. After his very solid spot start in the Twins recent doubleheader against the White Sox, you have to hope the Liam Hendricks avoids becoming a Quad-A pitcher after so-so results with the Twins in recent years. Are these pitchers left to bounce back and forth between Rochester and Minnesota for a couple of seasons? The book might be closed on Walters already but Hendricks and Hernandez might still prove valuable to the Twins.
Promoted starters have much more control over their destinies than hitters do. Pitch well every fifth day and they’ll likely continue to pitch every fifth day, even if it forces a rotation shuffle. Promoted hitters are much more restricted and seem to have much more pressure put on them to perform well or risk demotion. This situation makes it much more likely for a fielder/hitter to fall or be pushed into the 4A category, rather than play themselves into it. They could be way down on the depth chart at their position, given only spot starts here and there. If they don’t hit well in the few at bats they get, they look like they are scuffling, though they were never given the chance to find a rhythm. This scenario plays true for Chris Parmelee, who has great Triple-A career numbers but can’t seem to even buy a place on the Twins major league roster. He rightfully started the year as the RF but I still got the feeling he was being given a short leash that continually got shorter with his slow start at the plate. Then Oswaldo Arcia and Clete Thomas started to take his at bats away (Arcia I can understand as a hot-hitting prospect, but veterans like Clete Thomas should backup younger guys like Parmelee). Then by the All-Star break he was sent down to Rochester, all but unused on the Twins roster.
Parmelee was shipped back to Rochester primarily due to a lack of performance, but Colabello’s demotion was a result of limited roster space. Doumit’s return meant someone had to go. Both scenarios are common to guys who get the Quad-A label attached to their careers.
I like both Colabello and Parmelee but I feel that Parmelee just isn’t in the future plans for the Minnesota Twins. He hasn’t performed well enough in the unfairly short opportunities the Twins have given him and he appears to be running out of options. This is especially true if the Twins re-sign Justin Morneau this offseason. With a future 1B job off the table, I fear Parmelee might drift away from the organization and find a new team where he starts putting up some very respectable big league numbers.