One of the reasons I'm still able to watch the Twins as football season dawns upon us is from expanded rosters in September. Often the team will use this month as a chance to look at some young prospects or intriguing minor league veterans. No, they don't all offer the promise of being contributors in future seasons, but some can indeed be interesting to watch. Below I'll recap all eight of the players promoted to the majors.
RHP Michael Tonkin
Tonkin has already spent part of this season with the major league club, tallying a 5.84 ERA in 12 1/3 innings. He has one of the better arms in the bullpen as he can hit the mid-90s with ease. Though he struggled with walks and didn't get as many strikeouts as one should with a fastball like his, he still profiles as a possible set-up man in the future, especially if the Twins decide to move on from Jared Burton.
LHP Logan Darnell
He is another pitcher from this group that has spent some time in the majors this year. While his 8.46 ERA is gaudy, he's struck out 12 batters in 12 innings and has had a decent walk rate, suggesting that he's pitched far better than it appears. He's shown that he has decent fastball velocity for a lefty and like Caleb Thielbar and Andrew Albers from last year, he also tosses a curveball in the high-60s. He might steal a start towards the end of the season but most likely will pitch out of the bullpen to close out the year.
RHP Lester Oliveros
If the name sounds familiar, it's because Oliveros actually pitched for the Twins back in 2011 and 2012. He was the return when the Twins traded Delmon Young to Detroit and has shown that he can rack up strikeouts in the minor leagues. However, his control has been inconsistent and he lost a year to Tommy John surgery in 2013. This is the one call-up I'm most intrigued to see as he's 26 years old and also throws in the mid-90s like Tonkin, so a strong September could make him a sleeper candidate for the bullpen come spring training.
RHP A.J. Achter
This guy has been so much of an underdog that he was drafted in a round that doesn't exist anymore. Based on all the tweets I saw yesterday, the Twins beat writers thought it was pretty humorous that Achter pointed out that he was drafted in the 46th round back in 2010, but now the draft only goes to 40 rounds. He's a fairly tall pitcher at 6'5", but in spite of his size, his fastball hovers right around 90 MPH. He pitched mainly as a long reliever at Triple-A Rochester but did rack up 6 saves, and since he's allowed batting averages under .230 at every level since Single-A in 2012, it appears as though he has some deception when he throws.
C Josmil Pinto
We got to see Pinto get off to a hot start this season, but eventually pitchers figured him out and he cooled off quite a bit before getting demoted in June. He did a decent job with the bat in Rochester but it might be tough for him to find playing time, even though he figures to add more offense to the roster. His defense as a catcher leaves much to be desired so he profiles best as a DH, but the Twins already have Kennys Vargas there. If the Twins are smart they'll let Pinto catch a few times a week as there's no real point in keeping Kurt Suzuki on the field.
C/OF Chris Herrmann
The Twins always seem to call up an extra catcher or two in September and in addition to Pinto it's Herrmann. While he does offer some defensive flexibility, his offense has been pretty much nonexistent in spite of the surprising power he'd shown at Rochester this year. He hasn't quite been Drew Butera bad with the bat, but he's been pretty darn close.
IF Doug Bernier
Easily the oldest call-up at 34 years old, Bernier parlayed his Rochester MVP award into a promotion. He did see some time with the Twins last year and was a participant in the worst plate appearance from last year. Being a non-prospect means that his promotion is mainly a function of the Twins rewarding him and I don't expect him to get much playing time this month. However, be prepared to see me rage if Bernier gets more starts at shortstop than Danny Santana over the next few weeks.
OF Aaron Hicks
I'm not really sure if I can add more to Hicks that you don't already know. He's been awful in the majors, although he's shown the ability to draw walks. He was sent back to the minors to gain some confidence and hit as well at Double-A as he did back in 2012 and he also held his own at Rochester. If the Twins are smart, they'll play Hicks in center field while shifting Danny Santana to shortstop for this final month.