|Player in the Spotlight: Joe Mauer|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on July 12, 2004
Whiff…whiff…whiff. That’s the sound of Joe Mauer striking out. This was the only time (against Paul Feiner of Elk River High School) that Joe struck out in his high school career. He makes contact, to say the least. His senior year Joe hit .605 and the Twins took him with the first draft pick in the Amateur Draft.
Recently inducted Hall of Famer Paul Molitor said that Joe Mauer has “one of the best swings he had ever seen.” Many opposing general managers and farm directors gush over how great Mauer is. One of them says that, “Mauer goes beyond ‘very impressive’. He’s a star in the making.” After getting picked by the Twins and signing, Joe’s grandfather (who had played a little bit of baseball himself) said that his grandson had the best swing since Ted Williams and that he will be the next .400 hitter. And that’s what he did...in Elizabethon, Tennessee. In 2001, Joe played in rookie ball in the Appalachian league for the Elizabethon Twins and hit .400 with an on-base percentage of nearly .500. After proving no difficulties changing to wood bats, he moved to an advanced rookie league where he hit .302 for 411 at-bats. Once again not being challenged enough Joe went to A ball and was promoted after only 62 games in the 2003 season. He finished the year in AA and hit .341 there in 276 at-bats. The only thing that has not come about is the power, but with Mauer’s swing continuing to produce sweet line drives, it should come when he adds muscle. Remember, he’s only 21.
But Joe’s offense is not the only thing that awards him praise. Pitchers have said that Joe is amazing in his calling of the game and handling the duties of catching. His defense, said by many, was major league ready during the 2003 season, most definitely by now. How is this possible for someone who stands at 6-4 and weighs 230 lbs?
But Joe Mauer’s life changed on November 14th of last year. He was at home in Fort Myers when the news reached him. Jesse Crain, one of the pitchers in Double A that year, was calling him. Crain was calling to tell Joe about the trade of AJ Pierzynski to the San Francisco Giants. Joe was the man now.
So the 2000 Gatorade Player of the Year winner Joe Mauer, once called the nation’s best prep QB as he threw 41 TD with 3 picks his senior year, was going to the Majors. He played opening day, but shortly thereafter injured his knee. Joe has recently returned to action in the majors, but he has not been hitting the way that he has shown he can. But don’t worry - this is Joe Mauer that we’re talking about. He will hit and barely going out on a limb, make the Hall of Fame.
Joe Mauer is the next best catcher Major League baseball has to offer. Watch him play, if you can. He is history in the making.