Shortstop Trevor Plouffe of the Minnesota Twins, March 2, 2011 (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Prospect of the Day: Trevor Plouffe, INF, Minnesota Twins
The Twins are struggling to score runs. Heralded second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka is out with a broken fibula. Middle infielders Luke Hughes, Alexi Casilla, and Matt Tolbert can't hit. Meanwhile, shortstop Trevor Plouffe is showing considerable pop for Triple-A Rochester, hitting .271/.333/.610 so far with five homers in 16 games. Is Plouffe a legitimate option to help out the major league team?
Six years ago, the Twins would certainly have expected Plouffe to be in the lineup. Drafted in the first round in 2004 out of high school in Northridge, California, Plouffe hit .283 in rookie ball, but scuffled in his first full season in '05, hitting just .223/.300/.345 for Low-A Beloit, although he did knock 13 homers. Some scouts felt that the power burst was actually a detriment and that he swung for the fences too often.
He reached Double-A in 2007 and has been on the fringes of the majors ever since; he now has 301 Triple-A games under his belt, hitting .254/.305/.430; he's hit 20 homers in his last 117 games for Rochester. Plouffe got a 22-game trial in Minnesota last year, hitting just .146/.143/.317 in 41 at-bats. Although two of his six major league hits were homers, his other weaknesses were very obvious. Plouffe's profile has remained constant: he doesn't hit for a high batting average and doesn't draw lots of walks, but he has some pop and can knock a homer if you make a mistake to him.
On defense, his range is considered average for shortstop, though he has a terrific throwing arm. The Twins have given him innings at second base and third base to bolster his skills as a utility player. He can make a spectacular play, but will also botch routine ones more often than he should.
He turns 25 in June, so Plouffe doesn't have a huge amount of upside development remaining. He isn't a long-term answer for the Twins, but he's also the kind of player capable of riding a hot streak into some at-bats if a spot opens up. With the Twins reduced to playing Mike Cuddyer at second base, that spot could open soon, giving Plouffe a chance to redeem himself after his poor debut last year.