Twins Expect Chris Parmelee's Power To Play





MINNEAPOLIS—He thrived in the Arizona Fall League against more experienced competition. Then he made a strong, positive impression in spring training. So the Twins were excited to see how Chris Parmelee's knock-down-the-fences bat would adapt to Double-A pitching.

The excitement has been put on hold. The first baseman finished the season's first month batting .169/.215/.322 with two home runs in 59 at-bats for New Britain.

"Isn't that the way it works? He's crushing the ball in Florida, then when the season starts, he can't hit a thing," laughed vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff.

"Meanwhile, Justin Morneau drives himself crazy because he can't buy a hit in spring training, then starts raking when it counts."

Funny he should mention Morneau, because the 22-year-old Parmelee projects as the best slugger the Twins have developed since the MVP first baseman. The 2006 first-round pick has socked 14 or more home runs each of the past three seasons, including 14 with low Class A Beloit in 2008 when his season was cut in half by a broken wrist.

Like Morneau, the Twins want the lefthanded-hitting Parmelee to generate opposite-field power as he matures, particularly with two strikes. He's a traditional high-strikeout, pull hitter, but Parmelee began showing some ability to protect the plate last fall, when he was one of the youngest players in the AFL.

Radcliff said the strikeouts should abate somewhat as he irons out his swing. "He still has some loop, a little bit of arc, to his swing. He's not taking a direct path to the ball yet," he said.

"But Chris has improved his presence at the plate, so we really feel that once the mechanics are smoothed out, he'll have more consistent power."

And he can forget about an ugly April.

"Fortunately, we evaluate on more than three weeks of play," Radcliff said. "I think Morneau had a few bad months, too."

TWIN KILLINGS

• A year after giving R.A. Dickey a try, the Twins added another knuckleballer by signing 30-year-old righthander Charlie Zink to Triple-A Rochester. Zink has gone 63-61, 4.26 in nine minor league seasons, earning one big league start for the Red Sox in 2008. The Cardinals released Zink at the end of spring training.

• In his fifth start as a pro, 2009 first-round righthander Kyle Gibson faced 27 batters in recording a one-hitter for high Class A Fort Myers. He struck out nine Jupiter batters while inducing 16 groundouts. The Twins promoted Gibson to Double-A on May 11.