As reported Tuesday afternoon, the Minnesota Twins officially invited Josmil Pinto aboard the team’s 25-man Opening Day roster in 2014. Pinto’s roster spot was in question due to the offseason signing of veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki, and the favoritism management seemed to send Suzuki’s direction. While it was beginning to look like Pinto would start the season in triple-A and get as many catching reps in as possible, Twins management seems to have other plans for the 24-year-old slugger.
Signed as an amateur free agent in 2006 by the Twins, Pinto began playing in the Venezuelan Summer League as early as 17 years old. He’s since rolled through Minnesota’s minor league system, improving his performance at every level, and enters 2014 as a top 60 prospect in MLB.
In 126 combined double-A and triple-A games last season, Pinto produced a .309/.400/.482 line with 15 home runs, 32 doubles and 74 RBI. After a late season call-up, Pinto responded and carried his productivity into the major-league level. In 21 games with the Twins in 2013, he put up a monster .342/.398/.566 line, hit four long-balls, and had 12 RBI.
After a further impressive Spring Training performance this preseason, it became obvious that Minnesota could not afford to keep Pinto off their roster, or keep his bat out of their lineup.
To start with in 2014, the right-handed Pinto will likely platoon the DH spot with lefty Jason Kubel, and will see the majority of his at-bats coming against left-handed pitching. This means Pinto could see his name etched on the starting lineup card as early as Opening Day of his rookie campaign, when Minnesota faces Chris Sale and the Chicago White Sox.
By season’s end, don’t be surprised if Pinto takes over the Twins’ everyday position behind home plate. He possesses all the tools to be an offensive juggernaut, and needs only minor adjustments and experience added to his glove-work. Expect Pinto’s loud bat to make a splash in the AL Central this upcoming season, and play a pivotal role in Minnesota’s 2014 comeback quest.