MINNEAPOLIS — Eduardo Escobar was understandably disappointed when the Minnesota Twins optioned him to Triple-A Rochester in mid-July. But the reality was that there just weren’t enough at-bats for Escobar in the majors.
So instead of sulk, Escobar performed. In 43 regular-season games, the utility infielder helped spark Rochester to a playoff berth by batting .307 with four homers and 27 RBI. Those numbers were good enough to earn Escobar a trip back to the majors as one of the seven September call-ups who joined the Twins on Monday.
“Obviously any time you get sent down it’s a little bit sad,” the 24-year-old Escobar said before Monday’s game as teammate Chris Colabello translated. “For sure I looked at it as an opportunity. God has a plan for everybody. Thankfully I was able to go down there and they gave me an opportunity to play every day and show that I could swing the bat well. I felt like I did that.”
Chris Parmelee took that same approach. The 25-year-old outfielder/first baseman hit just .223 with eight homers and 20 RBI in 83 games with Minnesota this season before he was given a ticket to Rochester. His numbers weren’t much better there, however: a .231 average with three homers and 22 RBI in 45 regular-season games with Rochester. He failed to crack the Red Wings’ lineup for two of their playoff games, although not for injury reasons.
Still, Minnesota called up Parmelee to provide depth, both in the outfield and at first base. He was immediately inserted into the lineup Monday, batting eighth and playing right field. Parmelee said the demotion to Rochester helped him clear his mind a bit and learn to enjoy playing the game.
“Sometimes up here you can get too tedious with things and start to diagnose things that don’t necessarily need to be diagnosed,” Parmelee said. “It’s just going down there and having fun.”
Parmele and Escobar were joined by five other players who were called up late Sunday. That list includes pitchers Scott Diamond, Cole De Vries, Michael Tonkin and Shairon Martis, as well as catcher Eric Fryer.
Diamond and Tonkin both pitched for the Twins this year, while De Vries began the year on the 25-man roster but never pitched in the majors due to an injury. Gardenhire said Monday that Diamond will be inserted into what will now be a six-man rotation, while De Vries will initially pitch out of the bullpen. Martis, a 26-year-old right-hander from Curacao, appeared in 20 games with the Nationals during the 2008 and 2009 season. Fryer, meanwhile, cut his teeth in the big leagues with Pittsburgh in 2011 and 2012 as he played in 16 games.
Now, after strong seasons in Rochester, those two newcomers have the opportunity to show what they can do in a Twins uniform.
“Fryer does a real nice job, always in the right place, always doing the right thing,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “We saw that in spring training, a hard-working guy, a no-nonsense guy. He does a good job behind the plate and handles all that part. Martis has had a heck of a year, ate up a lot of innings for them, did a lot of different things. Recommended that they get rewarded for that, and I think that’s pretty cool.”
Those seven recent call-ups all gained experience playing for the Red Wings in the International League playoffs, an atmosphere they won’t experience with the Twins this year. While Rochester took Pawtucket to a decisive Game 5, its impressive season came to an end Sunday.
For Minnesota, that’s not an entirely bad thing, as the Twins have been carrying just 26 players on their roster since the beginning of September. Now there are seven new faces in the clubhouse, and seven guys hoping to make an impression that will last through the winter.
“Most of them have been here and they know the program, which is good. It makes it easier,” Gardenhire said. “Hopefully they’ll come up and show some things and give you good thoughts over the winter.”