Minnesota Twins First Baseman, Justin Morneau, was born Justin Ernest George Morneau on May 15, 1981 in New Westminster, British Columbia. He was a true athlete in high school playing baseball, basketball and hockey. He was even named the New Westminster High School Athlete of the Year in his senior year. Justin graduated high school in 1999 and immediately started his professional career on the Canadian World Junior team. He was intent to follow his passion – baseball.
Justin made his Major League debut in 2003 playing for the Twins. In 2004, he became the Twins' starting first baseman after the trade of veteran Doug Mientkiewicz to the Boston Red Sox. Many analysts and fans questioned this move, citing Justin's unproven fielding ability as compared to fan favorite Mientkiewicz's. Justin set out to prove himself and only committed three errors in 61 games in 2004 and showed great power swinging the bat.
A young hitter with raw power, Justin is willing to take big swings and a few strikeouts for the occasional homerun. He hit 19 homers in 280 at-bats. As his experience in reading pitches grows, he will only increase his homerun percentage. Justin has shown improvement in reading pitches, and by the end of 2004 he was able to foul off tricky pitches. He is a combative hitter who can draw walks when pitchers try to work around him. Justin has tremendous power when he pulls the ball and seems to be at his best when he waits on the ball and drives it to left-center and right-center.
Justin doesn't look like a natural as a base runner or a fielder. He looks awkward on the bases and hesitant to take the extra bag. He did show great improvement as a fielder as he adjusted to handling first base for the Twins. Justin learned quickly to scoop low and handle bouncing throws, but he needs to work on deciding when to cover right and when to let the second baseman have the ball.
After the drama of replacing Doug Mientkiewicz, Justin has shown to be a great hitter and growing in his defensive abilities. With only one injury after being hit by a pitch, Justin has remained healthy and through the 2004 season, he compiled a .259 batting average and 25 home runs in 114 games. In 2005, he led the Twins in RBI’s. Justin’s raw batting power is sure to make him the Twins' next Killebrew-a pure power hitter and run producer who will prove adequate in the field.