Sep 22, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins first basemanJoe Mauer
(7) doubles in the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Puckett’s Pond looks at the Minnesota Twins’ First Base depth
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The Minnesota Twins have Joe Mauer as their primary first baseman currently but what depth is there at the position in the unfortunate event of injury? We’ve gone through the organization to analyze every option the Twins have available. For every injury, there’s a ripple effect throughout the entire system. X moves up to the majors but who takes X’s place in AAA? In AA? And so on and so forth. We also want to highlight the up and coming prospects at the position.
The first contingency in the event of an injury to Mauer would be for Byung-Ho Park to step into his shoes. Park played first for most of his KBO career and can handle himself there. He was awarded two Gold Gloves in Korea. But Park moving to first would necessitate a call up who could back up first. There had been some talk of moving Miguel Sano to first base earlier this offseason but he’s only played 5 games at the position over his entire professional career. Trevor Plouffe has played 23 MLB games at first, and quite effectively, but moving him would create a hole elsewhere on the diamond.
–Kennys Vargas is number 1 on the speed dial for first base call ups. Vargas had a successful stint with the Twins in 2014 and a…less successful one in 2015. With no room on the active roster, he’ll begin 2016 in AAA. He has a -0.8 dWAR and -1 DRS in the Majors. In 34 games at first, he has a .988 fielding %. Offensively, he’s slashed .259/.299/.408. In the minors that year he put up a .283/.414/.496 line between AA and AAA. The switch hitter has a huge frame and tons of power potential. He’s improved defensively to where he’s now viewed as an average first baseman.
–Reynaldo Rodriguez was primarily a first baseman in the Red Sox organization but after coming to the Twins, Rodriguez has split his time almost evenly between first and outfield. He’s a solid fielder and has a .991 fielding percentage at first. He spent all of 2015 with Rochester and had a .753 OPS. The right handed hitter figures to split time at first with Vargas at AAA this upcoming year.
– Buck Britton has played 69 games at first in his minor league career but will only be relied upon there in a pinch. The super utility fielder will mostly be used at 2B, 3B and in the outfield.
–Max Kepler can play first base but really should be focussing on developing as an outfielder. His athleticism would be wasted at first.
Next: AA/A /A/Rk First Base Depth