Coming off another sub-par season, the 2007 season is a year that needs to be a big one for the former first round draft pick. Working with the New Britain Rock Cats this Spring, Plouffe has looked like a seasoned veteran at the plate, and his work in the field has been twice as good. After struggling with the glove the past two seasons, Plouffe now looks like a confident, slick-fielding shortstop in the field.
"That was a Major League play," was what Rock Cats Manager Riccardo Ingram said after Plouffe made an unbelievable backhand stab in the hole behind third base in a Spring Training game against Bowie. And what a play it was. On a ball hit hard between shortstop and third, Plouffe fully extended to his right side, before popping up and firing a strike to nail the runner at first.
Only 20 years old, Plouffe has had his fair share of ups and downs during his short professional career, but remains one of the top middle infield prospects in the Twins organization. His ability to hit has come into question in the past, but he looks strong and confident at the plate this spring. In one at-bat, Plouffe laid down a perfect bunt, then legged it out to load the bases for power hitter David Winfree.
In time, Plouffe could develop into a top of the order hitter, most likely a number two slot batter. He hits the ball to all fields when he is seeing it right, but he does have the tendency to chase balls out of the zone. However, he is still a baby, and his early struggles are something that happens from time to time.
Once a farm system very thin at the middle infield spots, the Twins have been adding more talent to surround Plouffe in the past couple of drafts, putting pressure on Plouffe to continue to be labeled the organization's shortstop of the future. Paul Kelly has been nothing short of spectacular since coming into the Twins farm system, and he is right on Plouffe's heels. Still very young, Kelly will likely be in Fort Myers in 2007, so Plouffe really needs to put together a good season this year.