Terry Ryan named three candidates for center field next year. They include Darin Mastroianni, Aaron Hicks and Joe Benson. Ryan points out that all three have the defensive skills need for center field. The question, he said, is whether they can handle the offense.
That raises an interesting question about the Twins offense. Because not only did they trade away two center fielders, they also traded away the top two hitters in the batting order and lot of team speed. Their current batting order looks like this:
If you look at those three question marks you see the problem. There is not really an answer at leadoff hitter in the bunch. Carroll can bat second. You can plug the shortstop into the number nine spot. But the center fielder really also needs to be the leadoff hitter. As a leadoff hitter Mastroianni probably has the advantage right now because of both his experience and his base stealing ability. Hicks was fine at AA, but he is a long shot to step into the major leagues at the top of the order. Benson is probably the least likely of the three to fit in that spot.
As I pointed out elsewhere, if Mastroianni wins the center field spot the Twins really lack a fourth outfielder who can play center field. Its possible they will bring in someone else to compete for the center field position who can take that role. If not, then either Hicks or Benson have to be on the roster to provide a backup in center field. I think Benson is the likely choice in that scenario. His strikeouts may keep him from playing regularly, but his power and defense would make him a decent fourth outfielder.
Is Torii Hunter still looking for a job?