Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Minnesota Twins Draft Options

The draft may be the greatest thing about sports. The NFL and NBA have pretty much made national holidays out of their draft days. Over the past couple years Bud Selig and Major League Baseball have made steps to bring the MLB draft from a radio podcast to television event. In further expansion of the game, fans get an opportunity to see the players their team selects and what that player might turn into in the future.

This is great for Twins fans because they are a team known for their drafting skills. If you look at the current 25 man roster for Minnesota, 11 of them were drafted by the Twins. Notable MVP's Joe Mauer (1 overall) and Justin Morneau (3rd round), former first round picks Michael Cuddyer and Denard Span, starting pitchers Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey and Scott Baker, and lets not forget Jason Kubel. Baseball America said the Twins had one of the top 3 draft classes in 2009 by addressing the depth of the pitching. They selected Kyle Gibson at 22 who looks like he is going to be a steal. Second rounder Billy Bullock has some of the best stuff in the system and had makeup the be the Twins future closer.

It is pretty obvious that 17 year old Bryce Harper is going to go number 1 overall. He seems like the greatest hitting prospect after. This coming after Stephen Strasburg was the greatest pitching prospect ever. Good for Washington. The Twins only have 1 pick in the first round in 2010 and 2 picks in the first 71 selections. Their have been a few players that have jumped out to me and I will evaluate some of the other talent that could be available for when Minnesota is on the clock.

*RHP Anthony Ranaudo, LSU, 6 feet 7 231 pounds
As a Sophomore last season Ranaudo was looked at as possibly the best college arm going into the 2010 draft. But stress injury in his elbow cut his season short and some red flags to go up. The injury is different to Kyle Gibson's but reports have said that it is not going to effect him long term. Ranaudo is very big with 3 above average pitches (90-93 MPH fastball, spike curve ball and changeup.) I don't think he has the upside Gibson did and it is also a negative that Scott Boras will be his agent.

*RHP Dylan Covey, Maranatha High School (CA), 6 feet 2 200 pounds
The Twins have not had great luck with their high school pitchers in early rounds however if their is a group where they do like to pick talent out of it is California. Prime examples are Alex Burnett and Tyler Robertson. Covey has above average control for a kid his age and already provides the potential for 2 plus pitches (90-93 MPH fastball with great movement and a spike curve ball). Minnesota usually does not like to go with the high school pitchers because of their price tags however because the Twins only have 1 first round pick they might be able to allocate their funds to this pick.

*2B Kolbrin Vitek, Ball State, 6 feet 3 195 pounds
In a draft deep with infielders Vitek might be one on the Twins Radar. Vitek projects as a plus hitter with developing power and has solid enough base running ability to get double digit steals. Although Vitek plays second base right now, it may not be his home for long. Some scouts like him for the outfield others for 3rd base. Either way his bat will be good enough at any level is his at.

*SS Christin Colon, Cal State Fullerton, 6 feet 185 pounds
Colon is a guy who does not bring one specific tool to the game, rather is such a smooth and efficient player, that he is not a weakness either. Colon is a plus defender with soft hands a solid arm. He has a very relaxed swing and solid plate discipline. Colon began to rise up draft boards after a terrific showing for Team USA last summer when he hit .362 with 5 home runs and 37 RBI in just 23 games.

*LHP James Paxton, Kentucky, 6 feet 4 215 pounds
Paxton is a supreme talent but definitely comes with some baggage. He was the number 37 pick in 2009 by the Blue Jays but did not sign. When he tried to return to school for his senior season he was denied by Kentucky. A law suit to the NCAA lead to a $750,000 settlement for damages received by not being able to pitch his senior year. If you look past this Paxton is a power lefty with plus stuff. He features a 92 to 98 MPH fastball that sits in the 95 range. A plus plus slider and the feel for a changeup. Paxton struck out 13.2 batters per 9 innings his Junior year at Kentucky. Other then Fransisco Liriano, the Twins do not have a left handed starter in their system that you can say jumps out at you. If Paxton is still on the board at pick 21 it would be a shame for the Twins to pass.

Although the Twins took 4 pitchers with their first 4 selections last year, I expect them to continue that trend. Although I think they got a future front line guy in Gibson, they are still lacking premium arms in their system. This is evident with the struggles of David Bromberg, Carlos Gutierrez and Tyler Robertson in AA New Britain. The Twins do have some high upside guys in the lower levels such as Adrian Salcedo, but in my opinion you can never have too much pitching.

MLB First Year Player Draft
Round 1 begins on June 7th and draft continues through June 9th.

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