The Josmil Pinto Effect

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The Minnesota Twins have no gotten Spring Training underway, and they will soon begin the slate of games that will lead us into the regular season. Last week, we took a look at the potential debacle that Josmil Pinto could be behind the plate, but if you’re a Twins fan, you know it’s his bat that plays. In 2015, you can bet that bat is going to be of plenty value.

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Last week prior to heading down for Spring Training, 1500 ESPN’s Derek Wetmore talked some Josmil Pinto on Twitter. When looking at just how bad the Twins were at throwing out base runners, he noted that a big issue was Pinto going 0-20 in regards to the stat. Suggesting he isn’t yet ready to catch, Wetmore wondered if he’s going to hit as a DH.

The long and short of that question would seem to be both yes and no. You can bet that Josmil Pinto is going to factor into the designated hitter discussion. The problem is there are also plenty of other bats that would likely appear to be ahead of him. Both Kennys Vargas and Joe Mauer would seemingly be the first two options to solely hit in the lineup. When and if Miguel Sano is promoted to the major league level, he also likely factors into the discussion. Pinto will get at bats at designated hitter, but that leads us to the no of it.

Josmil Pinto absolutely must be a catcher for the Twins this season. That is to say he must focus in Spring Training, on competing and at least being reliable behind the plate. Kurt Suzuki is far from a defensive asset at catcher on his own, and the Twins will need Pinto to eat innings as well. The 40 man roster has no other options (Chris Herrmann is no longer an ideal catcher despite working in some early in the spring), and the Twins don’t need to hear that Pinto is a one-dimensional player.

This leads us to Pinto’s bat. Last season, Ron Gardenhire rarely found opportunities to give the catcher significant playing time on consecutive days. With Pinto in and out of the lineup, establishing a level of comfort was not something that ever seemed to happen. 2015 should be a different story. Hitting seven home runs in 57 sporadic games a season ago, the Twins can expect a power boost from the big Venezuelan catcher.

Likely, Pinto won’t hit for much over .260 at the major league level. But if he can push his slugging percentage north of .460 for the Twins, there’s no doubt his power will play at Target Field. Expecting him to be amongst the team leaders in home runs is a very realistic feat. At the end of the day in 2015, Josmil Pinto is absolutely going to need to figure it out behind the plate, because the Twins need his bat in the lineup.

Next: 2015 Twins: Who Leads The Longballs?

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