Chris Herrmann: Twins Non-Roster Invitee


Chris Herrmann is a 24 year old catcher and outfielder, not a model. I just felt the need to point this out, in case anyone was confused. According to the internet, there is also a Brazilian model named Cris Herrman (short for Cristina). I’m sure it’s a common mistake.

The other Herrmann may be a bit easier on the eyes (though that is a matter of personal opinion, I guess), but she isn’t going to be in Spring Training with the Twins. Chris Herrmann will be, and quite a few people will be watching him, because he is arguably the best catching prospect in the organization. He’ll be wearing number 82 this spring.

Herrmann is a native of Tomball, Texas, but he spent his college years in Florida at the University of Miami. Miami’s nickname is the Hurricanes, and normally I would suggest “Herrmanncane” as a nickname for Herrmann. Unfortunately, that nickname sounds an awful lot like the name of a former Republican presidential contender and pizza magnate. Baseball and politics do not go well together (on the other hand, baseball and pizza are an excellent combination…).

The Orioles drafted Herrmann in the tenth round back in 2008, but he decided to return to Miami for another year. It was a good decision: he hit .341/.455/.528 that season and improved his stock enough for the Twins to take him in round six of the 2009 draft.

Later that year, Herrman carried his hitting prowess to  Elizabethton, where he hit .297/.391/.453 in his first taste of pro baseball. 2010 was a big disappointment. Hermann’s average dropped to a miserable .219 at High A Fort Myers. In his defense, he skipped low Class A Beloit, so he was probably a little over-matched. But we can probably write that season off as a fluke, since he rebounded in 2011, got promoted to AA a month into the season, and earned a combined line of .269/.385/.399. Herrmann hasn’t displayed much power so far in the minor leagues, but a catcher with a .385 OBP will always find a job in baseball.

His stock continued to rise even after the season ended, because he had a great showing in the Arizona Fall League. In 15 games for the Mesa Solar Sox, Hermann went .380/.456/.620 with a pair of homers and six doubles.

Catchers who can get on base are a rare commodity, and Herrmann is even more valuable due to his versatility. He has actually played more games (135) in left field than he has as at catcher (108) during his minor league tenure. He also has a handful of starts in center and right field. But the Rock Cats used him primarily as a catcher last year, so it seems that is the position where he’s likely to stick.

That may be the key to Herrmann’s long-term job security with the Twins. Joe Mauer branched out to first base and right field last year, and even though he has insisted he wants to remain behind the plate, almost nobody would be surprised if the Twins moved him to another position within the next couple of years. When Mauer was injured in 2011, the Twins catching situation was not pretty at all. Ryan Doumit, who signed to a one year contract, will help fill the gap in 2012; after that, the backup catching slot may be wide open for a young prospect like Herrmann. There is pretty much zero chance that Herrmann will make the Twins roster out of Spring Training, but if he hits well in the upper minors in 2012, he may even push Mauer for playing time behind the plate.

This was the 13th installment of a 25 part series on all of the Twins’ non-roster invitees. Check back tomorrow morning for the next one. If you missed any of the first 12, you can read them here.