September 1, 2008

September Call-Ups: Hitters

Now that September has arrived MLB teams are allowed to expand their active rosters from 25 to 40, and the Twins are expected to add a total of seven players from Double-A and Triple-A. Today's entry examines the hitters joining the team for the final month and tomorrow's entry will look at the pitchers arriving for the stretch run.
Jason Pridie | Center Field | DOB: 10/83 | Bats: Left | Trade: Rays

YEAR LV PA AVG OBP SLG HR XBH BB SO
2006 AA 503 .230 .281 .304 5 20 31 93
2007 AA 300 .290 .331 .441 4 27 14 45
AAA 274 .318 .375 .539 10 30 22 47
2008 AAA 598 .267 .303 .426 12 48 30 150

Taken by the Rays in the second round of the 2002 draft, injuries and poor numbers offensively caused Jason Pridie to be left unprotected from the Rule 5 draft in December of 2005. A 22-year-old with about a month's worth of experience above Single-A, the Twins nonetheless selected Pridie only to offer him back to the Rays prior to Opening Day. He struggled again at Double-A in 2006, but followed that up by hitting .303/.352/.487 in 134 games between Double-A and Triple-A last year.

That caught the Twins' eye again and they re-acquired him as part of the six-player swap headlined by Delmon Young and Matt Garza. At the time my take was that "Pridie's success in 2007 sticks out from the rest of an otherwise mediocre track record of .279/.326/.432 hitting" and unfortunately he basically matched those career numbers with a .267/.303/.426 line in 137 games at Rochester. However, after hitting just .243/.276/.392 in the first half, Pridie did bat .326/.364/.522 in 44 second-half games.

Like Denard Span last year his strong finish provides some reason for optimism, but Pridie posted an awful 51-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio during that 44-game stretch and struck out 150 times versus just 30 walks overall. Pridie has speed, athleticism, and the ability to play all three outfield spots, but he's a 25-year-old career .277/.322/.431 hitter who rarely walks and struggles to make contact. He looks like a fourth outfielder to me, but the Twins always love toolsy outfielders who can't control the strike zone.

Matt Tolbert | Second Base | DOB: 5/82 | Bats: Switch | Draft: 2004-16

YEAR LV PA AVG OBP SLG HR XBH BB SO
2006 A+ 173 .303 .360 .458 4 13 14 17
AA 292 .258 .341 .363 3 19 30 43
2007 AAA 477 .293 .353 .427 6 37 37 56
2008 AA 53 .250 .264 .308 0 3 1 6
MLB 90 .265 .307 .337 0 6 5 15

Selected by the Twins in the 16th round of the 2004 draft despite a modest .288/.365/.393 line in four years at the University of Mississippi, Matt Tolbert has essentially duplicated his college production by hitting .279/.343/.401 in five pro seasons. Within that thoroughly mediocre overall performance, two hot streaks have misled some people to believe that he's more than a possible utility man. For example, he hit .340 in April and .370 in May after making his Triple-A debut as a 25-year-old last season.

That got fans and media members talking about Tolbert, but he predictably crashed back down to earth by hitting .267/.323/.396 in the second half to finish the season at his usual .293/.353/.427. Similarly, after making this year's team out of spring training Tolbert began his MLB career 14-for-35 (.400) while people who didn't know better got way too excited about his future. An 8-for-48 (.167) slump followed and Tolbert was hitting just .265/.307/.337 overall when a finger injury sidelined him in mid-May.

Tolbert was getting regular starts at shortstop, second base, and third base prior to the injury, but after more than three months off he returns as a reserve. As a 26-year-old career .279/.343/.401 hitter in the minors who's stretched defensively at shortstop Tolbert has very limited value, but Ron Gardenhire can never have enough light-hitting utility infielders at his disposal and with Nick Punto an impending free agent there may soon be a vacancy in the manager's heart.

Matt Macri | Third Base | DOB: 5/82 | Bats: Right | Trade: Rockies

YEAR LV PA AVG OBP SLG HR XBH BB SO
2006 AA 326 .233 .294 .372 8 22 22 66
2007 AA 298 .298 .349 .502 11 34 20 58
AAA 59 .286 .322 .554 4 6 3 13
2008 AAA 346 .256 .321 .456 10 38 26 83
MLB 32 .367 .406 .500 1 2 2 8

Originally taken out of an Iowa high school by the Twins in the 17th round of the 2001 draft, Matt Macri opted for college instead of signing and played three years at Notre Dame before the Rockies made him a fifth rounder in 2004. Macri hit well at Single-A to begin his pro career, struggled at Double-A in 2006, and then hit .298/.349/.502 in 79 games while repeating the level last year. Traded to the Twins for Ramon Ortiz that August, Macri moved up to Triple-A and hit .286/.322/.554 in 17 games.

Macri carried a solid .282/.350/.467 career line into this year and impressed during a month-long stint with the Twins after making his MLB debut in late May, going 11-for-30 (.367) before Punto's return from the disabled list got him sent back to Rochester. At the time it seemed like Macri would be back in the majors relatively soon, but instead he remained at Triple-A for the next three-plus months while hitting just .256/.321/.456 in 88 games.

He's already 26 years old, strikes out a lot, and lacks plate discipline, but Macri is a capable defender at third base who can play second base in a pinch or shortstop in an emergency and offers 20-homer power. He'd be miscast as an everyday player, but if the Twins decide to go with Brian Buscher as their primary third baseman next season Macri would be a good fit to take over against left-handed pitching as his platoon partner.

Ryan Jorgensen | Catcher | DOB: 5/79 | Bats: Right | Sign: Free Agent

YEAR LV PA AVG OBP SLG HR XBH BB SO
2006 AAA 269 .213 .315 .357 8 17 31 57
2007 AAA 279 .237 .292 .325 2 18 21 52
2008 AAA 221 .247 .315 .433 8 20 18 52

A seventh-round pick in 2000, Ryan Jorgensen is now a 29-year-old career .239/.313/.373 hitter in nine minor-league seasons, including .232/.304/.368 in 1,141 trips to the plate at Triple-A. Along with those putrid numbers, his resume includes a 50-game suspension for violating MLB's drug policy last year and an appearance in the Mitchell Report a few months later. Despite his off-field issues and inability to hit even minor-league pitching, Jorgensen is in the majors for the third time in four seasons.

He's a living, breathing example of why Joe Mauer is far more valuable than most people think, has no business in the majors, and will be lucky to get a few odd at-bats this month, but the Twins called him up because they wanted to have a third catcher around and Jose Morales is out with an ankle injury. Jorgensen's biggest contribution figures to be easing Gardenhire's mind enough to let Mauer start at designated hitter or pinch-hit on days when Mike Redmond is behind the plate.


Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.

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