Star Tribune

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Twins like what they see in Pinto behind the plate

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has had a chance to watch Josmil Pinto play during spring training, and thinks the catcher’s career is developing nicely.

Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III , Star Tribune

Updated: August 3, 2013 - 12:25 AM

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has had a chance to watch Josmil Pinto play during spring training, and thinks the catcher’s career is developing nicely.

“I think he’s getting better.’’ Gardenhire said. “Seeing him two years ago, seeing him as a pup to seeing him [this] year in spring training. I thought he made a lot, lot of strides.’’

Pinto, 24, has a good arm and continues to learn the nuances of catching and handling a pitching staff. And the Twins feel that Pinto, signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2006, will develop into a good receiver.

Gardenhire immediately brought up Pinto on Thursday when asked, in the wake of Drew Butera being dealt to the Dodgers, who the next good catch-and-throw prospect in the farm system is.

“He’s one of our guys who is going to have a chance,’’ Gardenhire said. “He has all the intangibles, and he’s a tough kid. I like him. You have to see how they develop.’’

Pinto, from Valencia, Venezuela, was promoted to Class AAA Rochester on Thursday to replace the departed Butera. While he has some things to work on behind the plate, he’s not too shabby in the batter’s box. He was hitting .308 at the time of the promotion with 14 homers and 68 RBI in 107 games for the New Britain Rock Cats. Thanks to 64 walks, he had a .411 on-base percentage.

The Twins are covered at the position for a few more years with Joe Mauer around. but it doesn’t hurt to have a good prospect at the position.

Wimmers sighting

Righthander Alex Wimmers, the Twins’ first-round pick in 2010 who has battled control and elbow problems, is on the comeback trail.

Wimmers, who had Tommy John surgery last year, has made four appearances for the Twins rookie team in the Gulf Coast League, posting a 2.38 ERA over 11⅓ innings.

“He’s already up to three and four-inning [outings] now,’’ Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. “We’re hoping to shift him across the street soon.’’

That means sending him to Class A Fort Myers for some innings before the season ends. The Twins would like to see Wimmers pitch during the offseason — perhaps in the Arizona Fall League — then figure out where to start him next year.

Ryan said Wimmers is on the path Kyle Gibson was on last season when he rebounded from elbow surgery.

Etc.

• Fort Myers outfielder Byron Buxton has missed a handful of games because of a toenail problem. Part of the toenail has been removed and he’s expected to return to action soon. Buxton, considered the top prospect in baseball, was named Florida State League player of the week last week.

• Righthander Kohl Stewart, the Twins’ first-round pick in June, has missed several days after cutting his foot while walking on the beach and could miss up to another week while it heals. The Twins didn’t have his foot stitched because of the risk of infection.

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