We've already begun our encompassing look at the catcher position with the release of our consensus top 30 catchers for the 2014 season. We will not be releasing a top prospect list by position this year, so there is no list of top 20 catching prospects coming, for the simple reason that ranking them for position isn't likely to help a lot of fantasy owners. Instead, as a part of each position, the prospect staff will look at a few prospects at each position who could potentially have an impact during the 2014 season. We've already looked at Max Stassi of the Astros, Travis d'Arnaud of the Mets, and Jorge Alfaro of the Rangers. Next up is the Twins' Josmil Pinto.
Weight: 210 lbs.
On 40-Man Roster: Yes
Options Remaining: 2
DOB: 3/31/1989 (Age 25 season)
Pinto was signed by the Twins a little before his 17th birthday back in 2006, and the Twins opted to leave him in his home country that year to play in the Venezuelan Summer League. He moved to the Dominican Republic the following year, and made his stateside debut with the Twins' GCL affiliate in 2008. He did not get to full-season ball until 2010, where he hit .225/.295/.378 with 10 home runs in 100 games at Low-A Beloit.
Pinto returned to Low-A for the month of April in 2011 before being promoted to High-A Fort Myers. He hit better there (.262/.305/.389), but returned there for the 2012 season, improving on his numbers again (.295 with 14 HR) and getting another late season promotion. Following the 2012 season, Pinto was added to the 40-man roster, and returned to AA for the 2013 campaign. He had what was his best season yet at the plate, hitting .309 with 14 HR before being called up to the majors for the month of September. He made the most of his callup, hitting .342 with four home runs and five doubles in just 82 plate appearances in the month. It was also the most games he had played in a season, appearing in 126 in the minors to go with another 21 in the majors down the stretch. Previously, his high had been 105 in 2012.
The Scouting Report
The key to Pinto's game on the offensive side is his power, as he can potentially provide 15+ home runs per season in a full to go along with a good batting average. At the catcher position, that has the possibility of being a top 15 fantasy catcher. The questions which have always surrounded Pinto revolve around his defense and his health. He has had a number of shoulder injuries over the years, but is still considered to have an above-average arm. With so much more to work on defensively than other positions, there are concerns about Pinto's ability to call a game from behind the plate, as well as some of his movements (specifically to block pitches in the dirt, etc).
What's Keeping Him From Contributing Now?
The hope is that bringing in a veteran catcher like Suzuki will be able to help Pinto work on some of these things without having to play every day. The team wants to have his bat in the lineup, and could potentially give him time at first base or as the designated hitter some days. Realistically, they brought in Suzuki to help mentor some of their young pitchers as well, which could eat into Pinto's playing time as well.
When Could He Arrive?
The future appears to be now for Pinto, as the move of franchise icon Joe Mauer to first base will open up the playing time. The team did go out and sign Kurt Suzuki to a one year contract as well, which would lead me to believe that Pinto will play a majority of games, but Suzuki will be there to mentor him and probably play 75-85 games. As a result, we may not see Pinto become a full-time catcher until 2015.
What Can He Do When He Gets There?
Right now, you can probably only assume that he is likely to get into 100-115 games this year, which is why we have him ranked as our consensus #27 catcher despite his potential offensive upside. Most likely in 2014 we are looking at a .280-.290 hitter with 8-11 home runs.
Pinto remains an interesting fantasy option, as he should see 100-115 games this year between catcher and designated hitter. He has more upside than a number of fantasy options at the position, as his value is hurt mostly by the playing time issues. I would be targeting him in nearly all AL-only leagues (1 or 2 catcher), and in deeper formats, as he could produce like a top 15 catcher without the related cost.
For more on the Twins and the minors
Jason Hunt is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in the minor leagues and prospects. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonsbaseball
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