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The Twins recent transformation from perennial contender to AL Central cellar dweller has highlighted just how barren the their farm system is. They’ve been hard pressed to produce competent major leaguers, let alone stars. Brian Dozier however, looks like he might fall into the former category.
The 25-year-old shortstop hit .305/.379/.416 in 3+ minor league seasons (345 games), hitting 15 homeruns and displaying good range in the field. It’s hard to see Dozier carrying a team, but he could become a steady, Greg Gagne-type with a little better bat. The Twins should be able to cross “shortstop” off their to-do list.
Dozier’s first 100 big league plate appearances have been up-and-down as can be expected. A recent slump has seen his average has dip into the .230s and he isn’t showing the type of plate discipline he did in the minors - 3 walks and 20 strikeouts so far.
One thing the rookie needs no-help with though is handling the media; he’s showing a Michael Cuddyer-like aptitude with the press. I caught up with the Mississippi native during last week’s homestand.
DZ: It’s been about 3 weeks now that you’ve been in the majors. How’s it going for you?
DOZIER: Everything is going good. It took about a week to get used to everything, the big league life and stuff. A couple of the older guys kinda took me under their wing and showed me the ropes. It’s been going good so far.
DZ: Who’s done that for you?
DOZIER: Morny’s been the biggest one. He’s been my right hand man so to speak. He keeps me in line and also keeps me going and stuff.
DZ: Anything surprised you at all?
DOZIER: There’s obviously a bunch of stuff happening, but it’s the same game once you step on the field (and) everything goes back to normal like you were playing when you were little. It’s just on a bigger scale; I am having a lot of fun.
DZ: Most Twins fans first heard of you during spring training, you made a really strong impression there. What was your mindset going into (spring training)?
DOZIER: I just wanted to be positive throughout everything. No matter how good or how bad you do, you’ve gotta keep a level head in this game and that’s what I am trying to do most of all.
DZ: After having that positive experience, did you feel like, “OK, now I know I can play in the big leagues”?
DOZIER: Yeah, I think that’s everybody’s mindset. We play this game to be a big leaguer and the Twins do a very good job - Mr. Ryan and all those guys - of keeping you in the minor leagues to make sure when you’re called up you are completely ready. I think he did a good job at that. I went to Triple A first, worked hard down there and here I am now.
DZ: You’ve got a veteran infielder in Jamey Carroll on the team. Do you talk to him much, pick up anything from him?
DOZIER: He’s a good one, one of the best - ever since day one of spring training. He’s very knowledgeable about the game and I like to think I am too, so we kind of have that close relationship on and off the field. We kind of get each other and play the game the right way and I feed a lot off of him.
DZ: Coming up through the minor league organization is their anyone that we should expect to see coming up here in the next few years that you think might (be a star)?
DOZIER: You saw Joe Benson last year for just a tid bit. He’s probably the best athlete and has the most tools of anyone I’ve every seen in my life - he can run, he can throw, he can hit for power, he can do anything. He’s gonna be something special. I know right now he’s hurt with the hamate bone issue, but he’s gonna be something special.
DZ: One last thing, you are from Mississippi, football is king in Mississippi; did you play football, are you a fan?
DOZIER: Yeah, I played in high school. I was the quarterback for our high school team, it was a small high school. Football is big around the South - so is baseball too, but definitely football. I grew up watching some of the greats there.
DZ: What teams do you follow?
DOZIER: I am a big Saints fan, big Saints fan. In college football it really doesn’t matter, anywhere around the South is good. I actually live in New Orleans now, so I’m a big Saints fan.
See more of David Zingler’s interviews with Twins players: