Luke Hughes: Is He the Answer for the Minnesota Twins?

Collin KottkeCorrespondent IIIAugust 28, 2011

The Minnesota Twins don’t have many bright spots, but lately Luke Hughes has had a little spark for the fourth-place ballclub.

On Sunday afternoon Hughes knocked out two homers in an 11-4 win for the Twins. Hughes has three home runs in the Twins’ last two games against the Tigers.

But could Hughes be the answer?

There is a very small chance that Hughes will ever be the most valuable Twin with Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau on this team, but he could be a main piece to the puzzle. Hughes has six home runs in the majors this season in only 208 at-bats.

Compare that to Mauer and Morneau, who combined have only five home runs in 522 at-bats. Mauer and Morneau have been hurt and have only played 70 and 69 games respectively, but Hughes being up and down from Triple-A has only played 71 games in the bigs (appearing in nine games as a pinch-hitter).

Hughes is only hitting .245 this year and he does only have 24 RBI, but compare that to the Opening Day middle infield he may be an upgrade.

Alexi Casilla has played in 97 games (26 more than Hughes) and only has a batting average of .260, 21 RBI and two home runs. Tsuyoshi Nishioka has only played 61 games (just 10 fewer than Hughes) and has an average of .217, 19 RBI and zero home runs. Hughes has better all-around stats than former Japanese batting champions Nishioka. He is hitting 28 points high than the champ (I’m not going to even mention the obvious power upgrade Hughes is). Casilla is hitting 15 points better than Hughes, but Hughes does have an advantage in the very important RBI category.

Hughes does have other competition for a shot at the starting middle infield with Trevor Plouffe and Matt Tolbert. Plouffe looks like more of an outfield prospect due to his struggles with merely throwing the ball from short to first.

The Twins have been looking for a player to replace Nick Punto who could play any position on the spot, and it looks like Tolbert is probably that player. If the Twins keep Michael Cuddyer, they’d like to keep him in right field instead of being the utility player which Tolbert will become.

I see Luke Hughes as the Twins' starting second baseman coming out of spring training 2012, it looks as though he may be the best option inside the organization. Putting the Perth, Australia native at second will allow the Twins to spend money in other areas of need such as pitching, pitching and more pitching.