Pretty solid way to break in: 2-for-5 with a double, a run scored, a couple of RBIs and no blatant misplays in the field.
One game doesn't make or break Trevor Plouffe as a major league shortstop. It will be the body of work that determines that, a body of work not only here but in Rochester, where he'll return when J.J. Hardy returns to the lineup.
I was too dismissive of Plouffe's future in Friday's post; I shouldn't have put the word prospect in quotation marks. He is not yet 24. He has the athletic gifts to be a first-round pick; he has the time to turn those gifts into baseball skills. Unlike Matt Tolbert, the Twins see him as regular material; if he's on the 25-man roster, he's going to play.
And yet ... even if the improvement in his hitting this season is genuine — his command of the strike zone, as measured in walks and strikeouts, has been essentially the same this year as in previous season — I'm still skeptical. Last winter, Mike Radcliffe, the Twins' top player evaluator, called Estarlin de los Santos the system's "only true shortstop," an assessment that implicitly dismissed Plouffe as the team's future at the position.
Here's how Baseball America described Plouffe coming into spring training:
His shortstop defense hasn't been good enough as a pro, despite a plus-plus arm that remains his best tool. He made 26 errors last year at Rochester, consistent with the 29 he made in Fort Myers in 2006 and 32 in '07 at New Britain. He was more of a utility infielder in 2008, but he lacks the energy or speed to lay that role in the majors. ... Plouffe still could be a second division regular ...
Second division regular. The Twins drafted him with Greg Gagne in mind. Pat Meares is more likely.
More likely but hardly certain.