A little over two years ago, I raised the question about whether Denard Span, a first round draft choice and non-prospect, had perhaps turned a corner? At 24 years old, he was putting up slightly better numbers than we expected in spring training. It was easy to write them off because of his history, just like we wrote off his late-year success the previous year as "one nice month."
But looking closer at his numbers, one noticed a change in walks and strikeouts that indicated a guy taking substantially different at-bats. I suggested that maybe he had developed some patience, and maybe we should have waited for someone with first-round talent to shine through. That year ended with him essentially nailing down the center field job for the Twins.
If we learned that lesson, we certainly didn't apply it to the first round pick taken years later. Like Span, Trevor Plouffe has been a poster child for an area in which the Twins have struggled - middle infielders. Plouffe has never posted an on-base percentage over .340 and never exceeded a 736 OPS. Or at least he never has until this year, where he is hitting .299 with an on-base percentage of .355 and a slugging percentage of .468.
But like Span, the numbers that are most interesting to me are his walk and strikeout numbers. So far this year, Plouffe has 9 walks and 13 strikeouts, or about 1 walk per 1.5 strikeouts. He hasn't shown that kind of a rate since the low minors. Last year it was 1:2, and that's been the case for most of his career.
And like Span, you can see the same change starting in August of last year:
That looks like a little like a progression, especially when you add in 2010. Plouffe is just 23 years old, plays shortstop, and is looking like a hitter that can both get on base and provide a little pop at AAA. If these numbers are legit for the year, he becomes a top prospect. He also, by the way, is right-handed, something else that would fit in well in the Twins lineup.
So let's hope that history really is repeating itself. And while we're at it, we might want to withhold judgment on Chris Parmelee. He's the first round pick two years after Plouffe, a 21-year-old who is hitting just .195 in AA-New Britain with a 24:5 K:BB ratio. History suggests that sometime these things turn around.
Get it on your calendar right now - Twins vs Yankees this Saturday at Major's in Bloomington. The whole gang will be there, we'll have big specials and a raffle for Twins tix, too. Plus, I have a hunch this could be one of the biggest games of the year. Hope to see you there.