2009 stats: .271/.360/.454, 490 PA, 15 HR, 98/45 K/BB at New Britain (AA)
Last year’s rank: Not Ranked
Acquired: 34th round selection of the Minnesota Twins in the 2004 draft; 36th round selection of the Minnesota Twins in the 2005 draft
Before 2009, Rene Tosoni was simply an average corner outfield prospect who got on base at an above-average clip. Besides his pure hitting ability, there really wasn’t anything special to the young left-handed batter from California.
Tosoni didn’t have great speed on the base paths, didn’t walk at an abnormal rate, and didn’t possess any power to speak of. When Tosoni was brought up among Twins’ bloggers, there wasn’t much to talk about, other than an anecdote regarding a visa snafu in 2006.
In 2009, Tosoni hit 15 home runs and 25 doubles, both career highs. For the first time in his career, though, Tosoni’s on-base percentage dropped below .400 and he nearly doubled his strikeout total. This can be partially attributed to his atrocious splits against left-handed pitchers, against whom he hit just .183/.285/.302 in 2009.
Tosoni’s BABIP was well below his career average this season, however, so expecting a progression to his mean wouldn’t be far-fetched. Still, Tosoni has always struggled against southpaws and will need to improve if he wants to be of major-league caliber.
Conceivably, Tosoni could be an effective fourth outfielder and a solid bat off the bench on days when a right-handed pitcher is on the mound. If he’s able to maintain a level of respectability against left-handed hurlers, Tosoni could be an everyday outfielder for just about any team in baseball.
Ideal scenario: Tosoni starts the season in Rochester and works on his patience at the plate while learning how to hit left-handed pitchers from hitting coach Riccardo Ingram. He could be a call-up in 2010 for the Twins if someone goes down with an injury or a bench bat is needed for a pennant drive.
Path to the majors: The Delmon Young experiment is reaching a breaking point, and Tosoni could be called upon if the former first-overall pick fails to hit in 2010.