Friday, January 25, 2013

Benchmarks for 2013: Chris Parmelee

Chris Parmelee had a big September
in his 2011 callup but hit just .229
in 210 plate appearances last season
with the Twins
When I started this occasional series early this month, I listed six topics -- six areas of need for the Twins that one might reasonably use to gauge the effectiveness of Ron Gardenhire as manager in 2013.

Today I'm adding one that should have come to mind with the original post: Establishing Chris Parmelee.

Parmelee, Minnesota's first-round draft pick in 2006, will hit training camp next month as the presumptive starting right fielder. His best position is probably first base, but he's played considerable outfield as he toured the Twins minor league system.

He'll turn 25 during training camp, and it's time to find out what he can do with sustained playing time.

Right field is almost certainly not his long-term position. Oswaldo Arcia, a higher-end outfield prospect, is rocketing up the ladder; he is quite likely to lay claim to an outfield corner job by 2014. Veteran first baseman (and franchise icon) Justin Morneau is entering the last year of his contract; Parmelee could be shifted to first if the organization decides to cut ties with the 2006 MVP.

But before making any such decisions, the Twins need to determine what they have in Parmelee.

A year ago, the outside prospects gurus figured Parmelee was at best a platoon player or a "second-division" regular. But that was before he ripped Triple A at a .338/.457/.645 pace in 2012. His numbers in repeated call-ups weren't nearly so impressive, but they came with sporadic playing time.

That shouldn't be an issue in 2013. With two of last year's regular outfielders traded away, there should be plenty of at-bats available for Parmelee. And the Twins have reason to invest those at-bats in him, even if the outfield defense, with Josh Willingham in left and Parmelee in right, figures to be severely weakened as a result.

The Twins need to give Parmelee a chance to hit if they are to make the right choice on Morneau's future.

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