Bits: Josmil Pinto continues to rake 

September, 10, 2013
Perhaps it’s a Minnesota thing. Major league catchers are hitting a disappointing .247 this season, with a .703 OPS, but the Minnesota Twins laugh at that number. Their catchers are hitting .305 with a .867 OPS. Three-time batting champion Joe Mauer, currently out with a concussion, is hitting .324, and .330 when he’s catching. The organization recently promoted prospect Josmil Pinto for September and he has picked right up where Mauer left off. Pinto smacked three doubles in Monday’s win, giving him a robust .565 batting average after 24 at-bats, and fantasy owners should take notice.

[+] EnlargeJosmil Pinto
AP Photo/Pat SullivanSix of Josmil Pinto's 13 hits have gone for extra bases.
Sure, it’s a bit early to call Pinto the next Mauer -- or any top-10 catcher -- but the 24-year-old hit .309 across two minor league levels this season, with 15 home runs, 32 doubles and perhaps most important 66 walks. His on-base percentage was a Mauer-like .400. Unlike Mauer, Pinto bats right-handed, but it’s clear the organization believes in him; he batted second in the lineup Monday, knocking in a run and scoring two more, while hitting two of his doubles to deep center field off Los Angeles Angels right-hander Jered Weaver. The other double went to deep right field off right-hander J.C. Gutierrez. He’s the No. 7 catcher on the ESPN Player Rater over the past 15 days, which is nice because he got promoted 10 days ago.

By mid-September, several of the catchers fantasy managers have relied on this season are no longer performing at the same level -- Brian McCann, Jason Castro and even Yadier Molina are excellent examples -- and youngsters like Pinto become reasonable short-term pickups. Dropping Molina for Pinto is irrational, but temporarily sitting him for a guy with four multihit games in five starts isn’t. And most people don’t own Molina. I added Pinto in a keeper format as well, just in case Mauer is moved to another position such as first base next season, and he earns the starting job. He’s not a big guy, but he has excellent plate discipline and hits the ball the opposite way. At this position, that’s a start.