10 March 2012
14. Chris Herrmann, Catcher/OF, 24 years old
2011 stats: .269/.385/.399 with 8 HRs and 10 steals in 13 attempts between Fort Myers and New Britain.
Last Year's Rank: N/A
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 6th round out of the University of Miami in 2009.
Herrmann had a breakout year for the Twins in 2011 after compiling a .219/.310/.301 line in 408 plate appearances in 2010 for Fort Myers. Even though he had a rough first full professional year at the plate, he did throw out 36% of attempted base-stealer's. Herrmann started 2011 back at Fort Myers, but after a good start, posting a .310/.404/.425 line, he was promoted to New Britain in early May. His batting average dropped at New Britain but overall he had decent numbers, going .258/.380/.392. He also stole 9 bases. To top off his season, he was very impressive in the Arizona Fall League, going .380/.456/.620 in 57 plate appearances.
Herrmann put himself in the conversation as a top Twins prospect in 2011 and finally gave the system some decent catching depth since Wilson Ramos was traded in 2010. With Mauer's injuries in 2011, the lack of system depth at catcher was really exposed. Herrmann's line at AA as a 23 year old is similar to Ramos' .317/.341/.454 line as a 21 year in New Britain. Herrmann is not the prospect that Ramos was, he is not as big, nor does he have the power or defensive ability but he gets on base and doesn't strikeout too much. He has also shown to be healthier at this stage of his career.
Herrmann's skill-set will provide the Twins with a good back-up option to Joe Mauer. An option who is athletic enough to play other parts of the field. Herrmann, as a hitter, is a poor man's Joe Mauer. He is left-handed, a doubles machine and he gets on base. He just isn't as good of a hitter, nor is he as big. Herrmann is a better offensive catcher than Drew Butera right now, but given the signing of Ryan Doumit, the Twins can give him another year of seasoning. 2012 will be an important year for Herrmann. Another solid year would give him and the Twins options. He could either be a solid back-up to Mauer or a decent starter to replace Mauer, given Mauer's injury history or that he may have to replace Justin Morneau at first.
Ideal scenario: That Herrmann will spend 2012 in AA or AAA and the Twins won't need him . He will continue to develop his bat and his catching ability and be ready to play in the MLB in 2013.
Path to the majors: Herrmann has enough of a bat at catcher to backup right now in the system right now, but there are several short-term catcher options in front of him for 2012 and he would probably be better served spending the season in the minors. He can debut as a back-up catcher/bench bat/Joe Mauer insurance in 2013.
Check out #15 here and 20-16 and all of the rest here.