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Reason for excitement, or simply straw-grasping?

As the team's loss column approaches triple-digits, both the front office and armchair GM's across the country are entering winter mode. Much ink has been spilled on the topic of offseason trades and acquisitions, but the key to a successful 2012 season – or at least a fairer feud with the .500-mark – may be found in last night's lineup.

Kansas City's sweeping youth movement is receiving all the press, but the Twins have at least one player who could be playing his way into Minnesota's immediate future.

Chris Parmelee has zero Triple-A experience to his name, but his major-league performance this fall could result in a tough roster decision next spring. As far-fetched as it seems, Parmelee could see regular playing time at first base in 2012, especially with Justin Morneau's still-indecipherable status.

A few years ago, Parmelee was viewed as a prototypical slugging corner infielder who struck out too much. Since then, he's raised his batting average and lowered his strikeout rate. Now, the 23-year old has some thinking he could go toe-to-toe with the American League's best rookies.

Parmelee joined the team at the start of September this year, and has done a terrific job of manning first base in Morneau's stead. The left-handed slugger belted another home run Tuesday night, bringing his triple-slash line to a Pujols-ian .351/.429./.581. If he can perform even remotely near this level next Spring Training, he could win a job on the 25-man roster. At the very least, he'll find his name on the short list for an early-season promotion.

“He's nervous and wants to do well,” manager Ron Gardenhire said of Parmelee after the game on Tuesday night. “But he's had some quality at-bats since he's been up here.”

Parmelee is drawing rave reviews this month, but he keeps his sights set on the future.

“I feel good about it,” Parmelee said of his season. “This offseason I'm going to get some work in and come to Spring Training at 100 percent."

In the clubhouse after the game, Parmelee said it's easy to get star-struck and lose focus.

“There's a lot going on around you, and not just on the field. I mean, look at this,” Parmelee said as he motioned around the Twins' clubhouse. “But once the game starts you try to treat it the same as any normal game.”

You can count the number of “normal games” Parmelee has had this season on one hand. The 23-year old California native has put up extraordinary numbers for a team in extraordinary need of a reason for excitement.

It's foolish to expect Parmelee to continue smacking opposing pitching at the same clip, but he does appear to have the talent to be a major-league regular. The trial-run lineups the Twins have been trotting on the field these last few weeks may not win many games, but they provide an invaluable glimpse into the future.

And even while the core of the team crumbles around them, it's okay to get excited about these young guys.