Minnesota Twins Catcher, Joe Mauer, was born on April 19, 1983 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. A 2001 graduate of Cretin-Derham Hall High School in Saint Paul, Joe was a star athlete playing baseball, basketball and football. He was named the USA Today and Gatorade national player of the year as Cretin-Derham's quarterback. He was All-State in basketball and tied a national high school record by homering in seven consecutive baseball games.
He turned down a football scholarship from Florida State
University to pursue his passion of baseball and enter
the MLB draft. He was drafted in 2001 with the first pick
of the first round, ahead of the Chicago Cubs' Mark Prior.
He was the seventh Minnesotan to be selected in the first
round and the first to be selected first overall. Joe's
older brother, Jake Mauer, was also selected by the Twins
in the 2001 draft as the 677th overall pick. Joe Mauer’s
name on the Twins Roster has brought a lot of local excitement
to the team and Joe has quickly become a hometown hero.
Joe hit the big league spotlight in 2004, after his predecessor, A.J. Pierzynski, was traded to the San Francisco Giants in the 2003 off-season. In his Major League debut, he went 2-3 with one strikeout. Sadly, he injured his left knee on April 6, which required surgery. After playing in the minor leagues to rehabilitate his knee, he returned to the Twins in June. In July, pain and swelling in his left knee forced him to stop playing for the rest of the season. This was a tremendous disappointment for an organization that traded away A.J. Pierzynski, based on the belief that Joe Mauer would catch 120 games.
Joe Mauer signed a contract with the Twins on January 24, 2005 for 5.7 million dollars. In 2005, he returned to the Twins' lineup, and had 144 hits in 131 games, ending the season with an average of .294. He is considered by many scouts to be the best catching prospect in the majors and is said to have one of the best swings in the majors. He has a smooth stroke with power and incredible eye-hand coordination.
Joe not only has the best swing, he has the best approach to hitting on the team. In fact, he has one of the smoothest, most effortless swings in the game, as well as a Barry Bonds-like knowledge of the strike zone. He can hit to all fields with power. His natural swing produces lots of singles up the middle, and he can easily go with the outside pitch or quickly pull the inside pitch.
Fast for a catcher, Joe's speed probably will be affected by the knee injury that ruined his rookie year. While he is a good base runner who is capable of turning gap hits into triples, he is not much of a threat to steal. Defensively, he has an excellent arm and quick release, and already is adept at blocking pitches. Although he took quickly to handling major league pitchers, he will need to learn the league to call a better game.
If he's healthy and can get 550 at-bats, Joe Mauer could be an All-Star. If the knee continues to bother him, the Twins may have to switch him to first or third base. If he catches, he will get more days off and do some DH instead. Joe Mauer has a chance to be one of the best players of his time…health willing.