May 21, 2010, 3:45 PM EDT
Initially when the Twins placed J.J. Hardy on the disabled list they thought he’d return after the minimum 15 days and called up 28-year-old, light-hitting utility man Matt Tolbert rather than a legitimate prospect to replace him on the roster.
However, now Hardy’s wrist injury is proving more serious than originally thought and he’s not expected to return until at least next week, so the Twins have called up 24-year-old former first-round pick Trevor Plouffe and he’ll be in the starting lineup at shortstop tonight against the Brewers.
Plouffe was the 20th overall pick in the 2004 draft and the Twins pushed him very aggressively through the minors, but he never cracked even a .750 OPS at any level and hit just .256 with a .704 OPS in nearly 3,000 plate appearances prior to this year. He ranked just 27th on my annual list of the Twins’ top prospects this offseason, but Plouffe has finally shown some pop at the plate in his third crack at Triple-A, hitting .303 with 18 extra-base hits and an .860 OPS in 38 games prior to the call-up.
Obviously six weeks of solid hitting at Triple-A doesn’t cancel out six years of poor numbers at every level, but Plouffe is still just 24 and the Twins seem confident that the strides he’s made this season are legitimate. Minnesota has had trouble developing young middle infielders for basically Ron Gardenhire’s whole tenure, so with Hardy perpetually banged up and Orlando Hudson manning second base on a one-year contract Plouffe taking a step forward would be huge.
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