|Rock Cats, Red Wings, and now Twins catcher,|
What a 6 months it's been for Josmil Pinto. He started in April as the Rockcats' everyday catcher, and produced offensively and defensively. In fact, he hit .308/.411/.482. Watching him in person several games, it wasn't just his line drive swing that impressed me. He is a decent catcher with a very good arm. He was promoted on August 1 to AAA Rochester. That alone is a significant accomplishment. But Pinto didn't slow down. He continued to excel as a Red Wing, hitting .314/.333/.486, and is now a member of the Twins. He'll see significant playing time behind the dish, I expect, as the Twins would be wise to exercise caution with Joe Mauer.
The Twins gave Pinto at least 2 major votes of confidence: first, giving him 2 in-season promotions; and second -- and just as important -- trading Drew Butera at the deadline. These moves suggest that, between Chris Herrmann and Pinto, the Twins' back-up catching spots are covered.
To be sure, many guys offered great contributions this season in New Britain. Miguel Sano, Danny Santana, Trevor May, Michael Tonkin, Daniel Ortiz, Alex Meyer (pre-injury), and Nate Hanson (played all over the field very well) all come to mind. But none of these guys was as valuable on both sides of the ball, and was as consistent, as Pinto. He hit over .300, had a good K-to-walk ratio, showed good power, and continued to improve on defense. Yes, he still has a ways to go on the defensive front, but it won't stop him from being able to contribute to the Twins this September and next season. And in my opinion, the fact that he left the Rock Cats the last few weeks (give or take) of the season wasn't significant enough for another of the guys previously listed to trump his place.
Being completely honest, my decision is swayed in part by Joe Mauer's concussion. The concept of "most valuable" is subjective. I happen to see more "value" in places where it's needed. A prospect's value isn't tied solely to his current team so much as it is to the organization as a whole. In the Twins' present situation, we might see more value in prospects at shortstop, third base, starting pitching (ouch) and catcher, especially considering Mauer's advancing age and the recent concussion. In short, Herrmann and Pinto will need to step up. If not in 2014, then in 2015. The fact that Pinto has taken major strides this season, while Herrmann had, for the most part, a rough go of it, reinforces that Pinto is going to get the shot to prove himself at the major league level.
Congratulations, Josmil Pinto, on one hell of a season.