Friday, April 4, 2014

What's on second

Jorge Polanco hit .308
last year in Low A ball.
The Twins have accumulated an intriguing collection of second basemen in their organization. Or, more accurately, a collection of possible second basemen.

Start at the big league level, where Brian Dozier has the job. If his 2013 production is sustained, he's capable of being the regular second baseman for a good team -- hitting at the bottom of the order. The Twins don't now have a deep enough lineup to avoid having him in the top half. But he's a good defensive second baseman, and he has shown some pop, just not a very good batting average or on-base percentage.

Then there's Eddie Rosario, currently serving a 50-game suspension for a repeat recreational drug violation. Rosario projects to be something of the opposite to Dozier: At best an average defender at the keystone, but a line-drive machine capable of filling a top-of-the-order role.

Rosario finished 2013 at Double A, but where he'll pick up after serving his suspension is uncertain. (He was excused from spring training for unspecified "personal reasons," and as far as I know has yet to report to the Twins complex in Fort Myers.) Had he not been suspended, I thought it likely that he'd have moved up to Triple A; as it is, he might have to re-serve some High A time.

High A is where Jorge Polanco is. Polanco is a 20-year-old Dominican who was signed in the same summer as Miguel Sano and Max Kepler, who got more attention. While Polanco's at a lower level of play, he might offer a combination of Dozier's defense and Rosario's batting average.

Also at Fort Myers with Polanco: his DP partner at Cedar Rapids last year, Niko Goodrum, a second-round pick in 2010; and Levi Michael, the Twins' first round pick in 2011 as a shortstop.

This is Michael's third season at High A, and he's been largely relegated to second base. The Twins probably hoped when they drafted him that by now he'd be ready to challenge for the shortstop job, if not have already pushed Pedro Florimon aside. It hasn't happened, and probably won't. Goodrum, a tall, lean bundle of fast-twitch fibers, might not be destined to be a shortstop either; there's been chatter practically since he was drafted about a possible position switch for him.

Still, the Twins have sizable financial investments in all three middle infielders. And all three are on the same team.

Every time I saw Polanco working on defense during my time wandering the minor league fields last month, it was as a shortstop. And when the Miracle opened their season Thursday night, Polanco was at short, Michael at second and Goodrum at third base.

I suspect that Polanco's arm, like Dozier's, is a bit light for shortstop. If there's a major-league shortstop in that bunch, my money's on Goodrum. But it makes sense for the Twins to take a serious look at Polanco at short. Second base is getting a bit crowded, and his bat would certainly play at shortstop.

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