Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Willingham Shift: Chris Parmelee

Chris Parmelee hit
six doubles and four
homers during his
September callup.
One way to rationalize The Willingham Shift: Chris Parmelee has beaten out Ben Revere.

Ron Gardenhire probably views it that way, although he's hardly about to say it out loud, especially before the opening roster is finally set.

In a sense, this is how it should be. Both Parmelee (2006) and Revere (2007) were first-round picks out of high school, but Parmelee went earlier in his draft class and got the bigger bonus. Revere was generally seen as a bit of an overdraft at the bottom of the first round; Parmelee went about where the scouting consensus had him.

Yet Revere, despite starting a year later, reached the majors a year ahead of Parmelee.

They are, of course, very different players -- both left-handed hitters, but Revere is a speedy slap hitter, and the bulkier and slower Parmelee has displayed what Bill James years ago wrote of as "old player skills" -- lower batting average, higher walk and strikeout rates, power.

James, to my recollection, first used that term in discussing Tom Brunansky, and it may not be coincidence that Parmelee revived his flagging prospect status in a season when he had Bruno as his hitting coach.

His minor league career, in total, has been lackluster. But the Parmelee of last September and this spring training has generated consistently good at-bats, and he is said to have come on strong in the second half of 2011 in New Britain. It is certainly possible that something has clicked for Parmelee and that the talents that made him a first-round pick have finally turned into major league skills.

With Willingham in left, it's difficult to see how the lineup works without Parmelee somewhere in it. If Justin Morneau is the designated hitter, Parmelee is the obvious choice to play first; if Morneau can play first, Parmelee (who has played almost as many games in right field as at first in the minors) is a more likely choice to play right than Revere or even Trevor Plouffe. Or he could be the DH, with Ryan Doumit in right.

Having Parmelee -- seen entering camp as likely to be assigned to Triple-A Rochester -- on the major league roster will have a ripple effect on the bench. That will be the topic for Thursday.


  1. Can we chalk up any of the positives from Morneau and look forward to a return to form in the regular season? Or is it him just teeing off against inferior competition in spring training?

  2. Luke Hughes is on a bit of a tear this spring, where do you think he'll fit in this year?