A lot of the Twins’ non-roster invitees are unfamiliar names. Some are young prospects who haven’t yet made the 40 man roster, while others are players who signed with the Twins after barely making the Majors with other organizations. Phil Dumatrait, by contrast, is a player that most Twins fans know from last year.
Dumatrait, a lefty who wears number 54, pitched 41.1 innings of relief for the 2011 Twins and posted a 3.92 ERA. Pitching to a sub-4.00 ERA was a very rare accomplishment among Twins relievers in 2011. But 2011 was the best pro season so far for the 30 year old journeyman. In between stints with the Twins, Dumatrait accumulated a 1.15 ERA in 15.2 innings with the AAA Rochester Red Wings. He became a free agent after the season and lost his spot on the 40 man roster, but the Twins brought him back in November on a minor league deal.
Dumatrait was born in Bakersfield, California, and he threw for a couple of years for Bakersfield College, where he set the school’s single season record with 123 strikeouts in 2000. The record fell just a year later, but by that time Dumatrait had moved on to become the #1 pick of the Boston Red Sox (22nd overall). He did very well in the low minors for the Sox as a starting pitcher. But Boston dealt him to the Reds in 2003. It was with the Reds that Dumatrait made his Major League debut in 2007. Unfortunately, Dumatrait got beaten up in his first start against the Nationals, and he stumbled to a 15.00 ERA in six appearances that year.
The Pirates snatched Dumatrait away on a waiver claim that offseason, and they are the ones who converted him to the bullpen. After two seasons in Pittsburgh, Dumatrait spent a year in the Detroit organization before signing as a free agent with the Twins last year. For his career, Dumatrait is 4-13 with a 6.20 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 151 innings. Walks have been bad for Dumatrait. He has given up 90 free passes in his career, a rate of 5.4 BB/9. He was able to pitch around the walks last year, but the walk rate is going to need to come down dramatically in order for Dumatrait to win a job with the hopefully improved bullpen for 2012.
But there is a ray of hope in his stats. While righties teed off last year to a .310/.422/.563 line, Dumatrait held lefties to a .237/.298/.329 clip. Lefties also walked at a much lower rate (8.2% as opposed to 16.2%). With just a little improvement, Dumatrait could provide the Twins an effective LOOGY for a low price. And a reliever who can retire lefties will always be able to find a job in baseball.
The departure of Jose Mijares would seem to clear a hurdle for Dumatrait. The bullpen is a little crowded on the left side, though, with Glen Perkins and Brian Duensing likely to fill slots. Since the Twins usually carry seven relievers, there will probably be one more job for a left-handeder in the ‘pen.
Keep reading every day, because we’ll have a new non-roster profile each morning until they’re all finished. Read the first nine here.