The Minnesota Twins entered this season with questions across the infield, from health (first baseman Justin Morneau), to defensive shortcomings (third baseman Trevor Plouffe) to ability to contribute anything meaningful offensively (second baseman Brian Dozier and shortstop Pedro Florimon). But to this point stability at all four positions has not been an issue, leaving Eduardo Escobar as the odd-man out.
Escobar has started just three games and played nine games this season, but he does have seven hits in 17 at-bats with one home run and five RBI. His versatility looked to have a chance to get him in the lineup a significant amount this season, but at this early stage that has not come to fruition. But could Escobar see a lot more time on the field soon?
Escobar’s clearest path to playing time right now is at shortstop, where he has made all three of his starts thus far. Pedro Florimon has been difficult to take out of the lineup with a .348 batting average so far and three RBI over his last two games, but nothing in his track record (.249 career batting average in the minor leagues) suggests that is sustainable long-term. Add in some erratic throwing, resulting in three errors and multiple more potential errors saved by Morneau, and there is a recipe for reduced playing time when Florimon’s offense inevitably comes back to Earth a bit.
Plouffe has issues of his own defensively at the hot corner, but the power he offers offensively (24 home runs in 2012, including 11 in June) is sure to keep him in the lineup regularly as long as he is healthy. Escobar could, and surely will, see a bit of playing time as a late-inning defensive replacement for Plouffe when the situation is appropriate.
The uncertainty the Twins have in center field right now with Aaron Hicks struggling and Darin Mastroianni (ankle) on the disabled list could open up some opportunity for Escobar there, but he has only played two games in the outfield in his three-year big league career.
Escobar may remain in a bench role as long as everyone is healthy, but I think he will slowly eat into Florimon’s playing time and eventually take over as Minnesota’s every-day shortstop. If I had to pick a date for the depth chart to effectively flip, with Florimon becoming the Twins’ primary utility infielder and Escobar playing close to every day, I’ll take May 15.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.