After a strong showing at the World Baseball Classic for Team Netherlands, the Minnesota Twins have signed the Dutch first basemen Curt Smith. With the signing, the Twins added some depth to their minor league system at a position of relative weakness. The team currently possesses Justin Morneau and Chris Parmelee at the big league level for first basemen, but their options at their minor league levels are not as impressive at this time.
Smith was originally drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2008 draft and has put up career numbers of a .301 batting average with 47 HR and 266 RBI in five minor league seasons. Smith spent last season as part of the Miami Marlins organization where he played at their Double-A level. He is likely to begin the season with the Twins’ Double-A affiliate, New Britain, this season.
The Twins took notice of Smith while he was playing with the Netherlands team in the World Baseball Classic. While there, Smith hit .375 with one HR and one double in seven games. His right handed bat was a welcomed addition to the Dutch lineup who was eliminated by the Dominican Republic on Monday evening.
Smith is coming into an organization that is experiencing a lot of turnover and uncertainty at the first base position. The anchor at first, for almost a decade, for the Twins has been Morneau, who came to the Twins as a draftee in the third round of the 1999 amateur draft and quickly blossomed into a power hitter and cornerstone of this franchise. Smith doesn’t have the credentials that Morneau has, but he certainly can hold his own as a ballplayer. Smith may not hit for power like Morneau or Parmelee, but he does hit for average as his .301 career batting average illustrates. Smith is also solid defensively as he sports a career .982 fielding percentage.
While Smith may not blow you away, he certainly has earned a shot within the Twins’ organization. For a player who has performed well on the world’s largest stage for baseball, the kid certainly showed that he can hold his own against the some of the world’s best ballplayers.
The signing did not accompany a huge contract and it didn’t cost the Twins anything in their future. Thus, it is your typical low-risk, high-reward type of move. This is certainly a good move for the Twins and it has the potential of working out extremely well for them if he continues to develop.
Smith may not develop into a player of Morneau’s or Parmelee’s caliber, but he certainly could develop into a solid bench player or better for the Twins down the road. He is already familiar with the game of baseball in the United States and he has spent five seasons in multiple organizations, which makes him a veteran by some minor league standards.
While that may be cause for concern, if Smith can amount to anything at the big league level—whether it be a platoon player, pinch hitter or every day starter—he made the low-risk signing worthwhile. Kudos to Twins’ General Manager Terry Ryan for giving this kid a chance, as it could turn in to a great signing for the organization somewhere down the road.