While my bio claims that I know about 2000 players currently in affiliated baseball (and I stand by that claim), my knowledge begins to fracture as you get lower and lower in the minors.
I have a decent sense of almost everyone in Triple-A and a good amount of Double-A, but particularly when you get to Low-A and short-season leagues, all I know are top prospects, high draft picks, and A's players.
However, one player in the short-season Appalachian League caught my eye recently: Elizabethton Twins catcher Josmil Pinto.
Pinto had a nice pro debut in 2008 in the Rookie Gulf Coast League, hitting .329/.394/.541 in 24 games. He hit nine doubles and three triples, and even managed to hit one ball over the fence.
However, the 20-year-old topped that in a big way in 2009 after a promotion to short-season Elizabethton, crushing the ball at a .332/.387/.610 clip, with a whopping 13 homers to lead the circuit. Nobody else hit 11 or more.
Pinto also paced the Appy League in slugging, 25 points ahead of Brady Shoemaker.
And he's a catcher.
Well...maybe he isn't.
Pinto's listed as a catcher, but he spent most of 2009 at DH, and when you're being moved out from behind the plate in short-season ball, it's a bad sign.
Pinto doesn't quite have a normal catcher body type: he's listed at 5'11" and 184 pounds, which makes him lighter than most catchers.
Of course, if he keeps putting up OPS figures around 1.000, it won't matter where he plays.
Pinto's lack of height makes a move to first base less than ideal. He'll likely have to try his hand at third base or one of the outfield corners at some point. He is praised for his dedication to the game, energy, and hustle, so becoming adequate in at least one of those spots isn't too much of a stretch, particularly since we're talking about a guy who turns just 21 in March.
Defensive concerns aside, Pinto has proven to be arguably the best offensive player (in terms of current production) in all of the short-season minor leagues. He's got a long way to go to the majors, and he'll have to keep hitting due to his lackluster defense, but he's certainly a player to watch as a potential 30-HR guy down the line.
Remember the name.