With the departure of Carlos Gomez , the role of most scrutinized player in the outfield has unequivocally been awarded to Delmon Young . His status as a below-average defender has been well-documented, and 2010 will be a do-or-die season for him. If he can't find some success at the plate, there will be little reason for the Twins to hang onto him.
The emergence of Rene Tosoni , 23, certainly isn't helping Young's cause. Should Young struggle in 2010, Tosoni could be a candidate for an early or mid-season promotion.
Tosoni is currently playing with the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Winter League in Phoenix. Although his stats through the first 19 games aren't entirely impressive, what he did in the batter's box during the regular season for the New Britain Rock Cats should not go unrecognized. Hitting .271/.360/.454 with 15 home runs, Tosoni displayed marginal power while getting on base at an above-average clip.
Although Gomez—one of the best defensive center-fielders in the league—is no longer with the Twins, Tosoni could potentially step in at some point next season, shifting Denard Span to left field and bumping Young to the bench. While not an above-average defender in the outfield, Tosoni could more than make up with his bat the handful of runs he gives up defensively every season.
Before Tosoni can even think about a major-league promotion, though, the left-hander will have to resolve his struggles against left-handed pitchers.
This past season, Tosoni was atrocious against southpaws, hitting just .183/.285/.302 with an OPS of 587. The awful 2009 left-handed splits, though, are much worse than his career splits against left-handed pitchers. (Which, admittedly, are still awful. In his career as a professional baseball player, Tosoni has hit just three home runs against left-handed pitching while batting at a .231/.346/.343 clip.)
Despite this obvious struggle, Tosoni had a BABIP of just .253 against southpaws this past season—indicating no small amount of poor luck—so expecting a progression to his mean shouldn't be unreasonable.
Tosoni took a huge step forward with regard to his power this past season, hitting 15 home runs as a Rock Cat.
This quintupled his previous high, but it should be noted that 2009 was Tosoni's first full season. Although the power is good to see, Tosoni took a huge hit in his strikeout/walk ratio, and in turn, his on-base-percentage, which is still well above-average.
Even considering his numerous flaws, Tosoni is a solid outfield prospect who could see major-league playing time as a fourth outfielder/pinch hitter as soon as next season. If the Twins find themselves in another pennant race, Tosoni's ability to smash right-handed pitching may come in handy.
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