Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The September call-ups

Doug Bernier, who
spent half the 2013
season with the Twins,
was named MVP of
the 2014 Red Wings.
The Twins on Monday morning announced eight callups for the expanded September roster, names familiar and otherwise: A.J. Achter, Doug Bernier, Logan Darnell, Chris Herrmann, Aaron Hicks, Lester Oliveros, Josmil Pinto and Michael Tonkin. They were all with Triple A Rochester, which was eliminated Sunday from playoff contention, and will join the Twins today.

As surmised here earlier, three of them -- Achter, Bernier and Oliveros -- had to be added to the 40-man roster. Of the eight -- nine if you want to count Aaron Thompson, called up during the weekend -- only Achter has never appeared in the majors before.

This collection is heavy with minor league veterans and light on true prospects.The Twins did not call up anybody who is to be first-time eligible for the Rule 5 draft and thus likely to be added to the 40 early in the offseason. That would include Eddie Rosario, who didn't play well enough this year to be rewarded with a month of major league pay and perks but is too good a prospect to expose, and Alex Meyer, who went on the minor league disabled list during the weekend.

Lester Oliveros
will audition this
month for a bullpen
role next year.
The most interesting of the nine, as I look to 2015, are Hicks, Oliveros and Tonkin.

Hicks needs to have a strong September, as I see it. He's twice won jobs in spring training only to flop in the regular season, and I can't see a good reason for the Twins to let him do that a third time.

Oliveros and Tonkin are a pair of hard-throwing righties, either of whom might be a successor to Jared Burton (whose contract is expiring) in a set-up role next year. Oliveros, as you might recall, came to the Twins in the Delmon Young trade in 2011; he's had some injury issues and has returned from Tommy John surgery. (Achter might be put in this group, but his stuff is a notch behind the others.)

Chris Herrmann hit
.304 for Rochester
but just .143 with
the Twins.
Darnell and Thompson are showcasing themselves as potential replacements for Brian Duensing and Caleb Thielbar as lefty specialists.

Pinto and Herrmann ... I think their purpose is to lighten the load on Kurt Suzuki, who has taken a beating behind the plate in recent days. Theoretically either could push out Eric Fryer as the backup catcher in 2015, but Fryer is the superior receiver, and a reliable backstop seems to be Ron Gardenhire's preference in that role. (Assuming, of course, that Gardy is back next year.)

Herrmann would have a better chance at a backup job with a manager inclined to use the backup catcher in platoon situations -- meaning, to look to give Suzuki his days off against right-handed pitchers and fit the left-handed Herrmann in then. Gardenhire is not such a manager.

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