A Mystery Wrapped Inside An Enigma Wrapped Inside A Ballplayer: Twins Sign Utility Player JT Riddle To Minor League DealJan 7, 2021
He hopes to be as difficult to solve as the question the Hatter poses to Alice, “Why is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?” While the Hatter hadn’t the slightest idea of the answer to his own question, the Minnesota Twins are hoping pitchers are just as befuddled in trying to retire their newest signing, utility player JT Riddle, who was signed to a Minor League deal with an invite to Major League camp.
The 29-year-old Riddle spent the 2020 season with the Pittsburgh Pirates hitting .149 with one home run and one RBI in 23 games. In 67 at bats he scored eight runs, had two doubles, with a .288 on base percentage, and .315 slugging percentage.
Riddle was originally a 35th round pick by the Boston Red Sox in 2010 out of Western Hills (KY) High School, but did not sign and electing to play college ball at the University of Kentucky. The move paid off as Riddle was a 13th round pick by the Miami Marlins in 2013. He spent the first season with Low-A Batavia hitting .243 with two home runs and 18 RBI in 59 games. In 222 at bats he scored 38 runs, pounded 10 doubles, with a .288 on base percentage, and .315 slugging percentage.
In 2014, Riddle spent the entire season at Single-A Greensboro and hit .280 with nine home runs and 60 RBI in 103 games. In 435 at bats he ripped 17 doubles, four triples, had a .323 on base percentage, and a .400 slugging percentage.
Riddle had his breakout season in 2015 splitting time between High-A Jupiter (45 games), Double-A Jacksonville (67 games) and one game at Triple-A New Orleans. Across 90 games he hit .283 with five home runs and 29 RBI. In 361 at bats he scored 58 runs, cracked 12 doubles, two triples, with a .323 on base percentage, and a .368 slugging percentage. Riddle was selected as a mid-season All-Star in the Florida State League and an MiLB.com Organizational All-Star.
In 2016, Riddle built on his success from the previous season playing 101 games with Jacksonville and 15 games with New Orleans. Between the two stops he hit .276 with four home runs and 53 RBI in 116 games. In 445 at bats he scored 53 runs, crushed 20 doubles, four triples, with a .326 on base percentage and a .366 slugging percentage. He finished 10th in the Southern League with a .278 batting average. Riddle set a career high with a 21-game hitting streak with Jacksonville from June 29-August 6. He earned a Post-Season Southern League All-Star nod and his second straight MiLB.com Organization All-Star selection.
Riddle reached the pinnacle in 2017 when he played 70 games with the Marlins. After spending the first three games of the season in New Orleans, he was called up to the Marlins on April 9 and made his Major League debut on April 11 against the Atlanta Braves, going 0-4. Riddle collected his first Major League hit the very next day against the Braves, a single against Jaime Garcia. On April 16 he hit his first Major League home run, a walk-off two-run home run against the New York Mets’ Addison Reed. Overall, Riddle hit .250 with three home runs and 31 RBI in 70 games with the Marlins. In 228 at bats he scored 20 runs, stroked 20 doubles, one triple, a .282 on base percentage, and a .355 slugging percentage.
In 2018, Riddle spent most of the season with the Marlins. After dealing with right shoulder tendinitis to begin the season, he spent two games each with Jupiter and Jacksonville on a rehab assignment before being assigned to New Orleans. After 21 games, where he hit .341 with three home runs and 19 RBI, Riddle was promoted to the Marlins on May 26. He hit .231 with nine home runs and 36 RBI in 102 games. In 308 at bats he scored 28 runs, smacked 10 doubles, four triples, a .277 on base percentage, and a .377 slugging percentage.
His final season with the Marlins organization was in 2019 where he battled injury. Along with a two game rehab assignment in Jupiter, he played 32 games in New Orleans hitting four home runs and driving in 19. Riddle played 51 games with the Marlins hitting .189 with six home runs and 12 RBI. In 132 at bats he scored 15 runs, had six doubles, a .230 on base percentage, and a .371 slugging percentage.
The Twins have signed nine players this off-season to Minor League deals with an invite to Major League Spring Training.