“Ability is nothing without opportunity.” Napoleon Bonaparte
Although catcher is much deeper this year, it never hurts to have a player that is going later in drafts that could be a borderline starter in fantasy. One of the reasons that Josmil Pinto is going later in drafts though is the uncertainty of how much he will play if he breaks camp with the Twins. Here are some quotes from Twins camp:
“The second catcher we’ll discuss as we go along,” assistant general manager Rob Antony said. “I don’t think we’ve finalized it. We all have different thoughts and opinions on that. We’ll sit down and figure that out at the end.”
But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is among those who doesn’t have any issues with Pinto sharing time with Suzuki behind the plate, even if it means Pinto won’t be able to catch as much as he would at Triple-A.
“I don’t have a problem with him splitting time with Suzuki — that could be part of his development,” Gardenhire said. “Learning process, catch some on the side. Match him with certain pitchers that look good when they work together. I don’t have a problem with that. He can develop that way, too. He doesn’t have to be an everyday guy, I wouldn’t put it like that.”
Both of the quotes above are from the following article Twins options with Pinto written by Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. Pinto burst onto fantasy player’s radars during his September promotion in 2013 and was able to produce the following small sample size:
- Josmil Pinto 2013 – 21 G, 10 R, 4 HR, 12 RBI 342/398/566
Anyone who was fortunate to add him last year following his promotion benefitted from his hot month in Minnesota. After the Twins announced that they were moving Joe Mauer to first base full time, it was assumed the Twins would give Pinto a long look as their primary catcher. However, the signing of free agent Kurt Suzuki put a damper on Pinto’s fantasy outlook. Even with his hot start in spring training, it is being debated internally whether Pinto opening as the full time catcher in AAA benefits him long term or will he break camp with the Twins.
Pinto’s Minor League Stats
While Pinto’s physical stature will not endear him to scouts, he seems to be a gamer that outperforms his scouting reports. He had a huge spike in K% to 26.5% during his 21 games in Minnesota but this has happened before when he changed levels. In 2012 when he played 12 games at AA after moving up from A+ ball, his K% jumped to 19.2 in AA up from 16 in A+ ball. But in his season at AA the year after, he had a 14.1 BB% and 15.7 K% which exhibits he can be patient in his at bats. Pinto will need more seasoning in regards to his approach but he is not as bad as the 26.5 K% suggests. Here are his last two season in the minors along with his career numbers in the minors:
|Pinto’s Minors Stats||G||R||HR||RBI||SB||AVG/OBP/SLG|
|Age 23 A+/AA||105||53||14||60||0||298/365/553|
|Age 24 AA/AAA||126||59||14||68||0||309/400/482|
|Career 6 Years||588||294||63||351||10||275/351/439|
Pinto’s Outlook for 2014
All of this speculation is nice, but if Gardenhire loses the debate to keep him with the Twins it creates a hole in a fantasy roster. Pinto is not being drafted in one catcher leagues, which makes sense. But his ADP of 334 according to FantasyPros does suggest that there is profit to be made if he breaks camp with the Twins. I can see a scenario where he starts the year in a time share with Suzuki but hits his way to the starting role. Because defense is valued in Minnesota, it will take him time to gain his manager’s trust. But knowing his ability to adapt and hit as he progressed levels in the minors offers hope for him to improve upon his OBP from 2013. His average is going to regress, but a catcher with double digit home run potential and an average above .265 is a player to target.
Pinto’s Projections for 2014
Here is a chart of how different computer’s and sites predict Pinto’s 2014:
While Oliver bases all player on 600 plate appearances, only ZiPS seems to agree that Pinto will get more time in 2014 than others are forecasting. The CBS projection only reflects 300 at bats for him this year. A reminder, his competition is Kurt Suzuki who has only averaged 106 games played the last two years and is better suited to be a number two catcher for the Twins than Pinto. Even if Pinto is optioned, I envision him coming up no later than June and assuming a lead role in Minnesota.
- My Pinto Projection – 51 R, 13 HR, 59 RBI 267/330/445
I am being conservative on the runs and home runs due to the potential demotion or only playing three games a week early in the season. As of this writing catchers such as Mike Zunino and J.P. Arencibia are being drafted ahead of Pinto. Neither of them has the potential to finish in the top 15 for the position this season whereas Pinto could. It will take a couple of breaks but trust that he can hit his way into the lineup. His ADP suggests he is a growth stock that could prove to be a great late round grab as a second catcher.
Greg Jewett is a staff writer for Roto Analysis and you can follow us on Twitter @RotoAnalysis and @gjewett9
Josmil Pinto picture credit: http://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/cb1ee8b55641beef5980c7f38a755fa64b544acc/c=