Sunday, August 28, 2011

Who is Rene Tosoni?

Tosoni slaps a single in his first Major League at bat on April 28, 2011
Rene Tosoni has defied the odds and reached the Major Leagues despite being a lightly regarded prospect who was selected in the 36th round of the 2005 draft.  Minnesota actually selected Tosoni, a native Canadian, two rounds earlier the year before, but he chose not to sign and re-enter the draft.  Perhaps because of this experience, Tosoni elected not to take his chances in the 2006 draft, although he waited almost a full year before he signed with Minnesota in May of that year.

And, after all that, a visa issue prevented Tosoni from playing professional baseball in the United States for the 2006 season, meaning he did not debut until 2007, nearly three years after the Twins originally drafted him.  Still 20 years old, Rene began his career with Elizabethton where he showed impressive plate discipline and solid power, hitting 38 percent better than the league average, before a two-game cameo in Low Single-A.

The following season, he skipped right to Ft. Myers and showed the same combination of solid power and good patience, which began to get him noticed.  Unfortunately, he broke a bone in his left foot relatively early in the season and did not return until late August.  Despite that, he was again promoted to start the 2009 season, moving up to Double-A.  He continued to perform there, as a significant increase in power made up for a higher strikeout rate and lower on base percent.

That year, he was also selected to play in the Futures Game, essentially an All-Star game for prospects that pits international players against U.S. players which takes place during the Major League All-Star break.  He won the MVP award in the game thanks to a go-ahead pinch-hit double in the seventh inning--the final inning as the game was shortened due to a 4-hour rain delay--that propelled the World team to victory.

Tosoni experienced a small drop in power the next year, but his season was dampened much more by a sore shoulder that eventually required surgery, causing him to miss the final few months of the year.  Because of that, Tosoni made his first appearance with Rochester at the start of 2011, where he remained for just under a month.  On April 28, Delmon Young was placed on the disabled list and Tosoni was called up to replace him on the active roster, despite a rough start to the year in Triple-A.  He's been nothing short of awful in his two stints this year in Minnesota, with a .537 OPS, and hasn't been a whole lot better in his two tours of duty at Rochester.

That's unfortunate because, with Young traded and Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel set to become free agents, there figure to be openings on the roster for outfielders, and Tosoni is not putting a very strong claim in for the job.  He shouldn't be eliminated from consideration altogether, but his performance in Triple-A and the Majors this season should make the Twins organization very cautious about penciling him into their future plans.

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