Atlanta Braves v Minnesota Twins

With middle infield struggling, Twins likely to add Trevor Plouffe

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I probably should have left this one for Aaron, but oh well…

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Joe Christensen tweeted today that Twins manager Rob Gardenhire offered strong hints that shortstop Trevor Plouffe will soon be promoted from Triple-A Rochester.

Plouffe, the Twins’ first-round pick in 2004, made his major league debut last season and looked overmatched. While he did deliver two homers in 41 at-bats, he batted just .146 and finished with a 14/0 K/BB ratio.

This season, though, Plouffe seems to have made some strides in Triple-A. The 24-year-old is hitting .282/.344/.590 with six homers in 21 games. That’s a .934 OPS for a guy who has never topped 750 in his previous minor league stops. Plouffe has actually been incredibly consistent in his mediocrity, finishing with OPSs of .736, .723, .720 and .730 between Double- and Triple-A the last four years.

He’d certainly be an asset to the Twins if he could post a .730 OPS in the majors right now. The team is getting a .449 OPS out of its second basemen and a .504 mark at shortstop. Alexi Casilla has been the starter at short, while the Twins have given defensive liabilities Michael Cuddyer and Luke Hughes time at second as Tsuyoshi Nishioka recovers from a broken leg.

When the Twins do promote Plouffe, they might as well give him a look as the everyday shortstop. He does have some experience at second, but Casilla has a lot more. Plus, if Plouffe hits, the Twins will probably want to stick with him after Nishioka returns. Ideally, Plouffe would hit enough to secure the job and send Casilla back to a utility role for the final four months of the season.

Twins’ minor league pitcher Landa dies in Venezuela

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 05:  Yorman Landa #81 of the Minnesota Twins makes a throw to first base during the fourth inning of a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at Hammond Stadium on March 5, 2016 in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins say minor league pitcher Yorman Landa has died in Venezuela. He was 22.

The club said in a statement that the Twins are “deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss.” The team did not say how he died.

Landa pitched in the 2016 season with the Fort Meyers Miracle, going 2-2 with 7 saves and a 3.24 ERA in 41 2/3 innings pitched. His career minor-league ERA was 2.66.

Landa had been on the Twins’ 40-man roster, but was dropped after the season. The organization signed him to a minor-league contract last week.

Landa was signed by the Twins in 2010 as a 16-year old from Santa Teresa, Venezuela.

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.