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A preview of the 2006 draft.

The consensus is that the 2006 draft is weak in position players and strong in pitching, both college and prep.  The Twins will not have the many extra picks they have had the past two seasons (5 first round picks in 2004, and 2 first round, 3 second round and 2 third round picks in 2005).  Their only extra pick in 2006 will be the Cub's 4th round pick as compensation for Jacque Jones.  Therefore, the Twins won't need to expand their signing budget as they have the past two years which enabled them to sign their top 17 picks last year (best of all teams).

The Twins needs have changed from several years ago.  So lets take a look at how this draft may shape up for the Twins.

With the twentieth pick of the first round, they will look at taking a high school third baseman, outfielder, college outfielder, or they may also look at a high school pitcher.  However, should someone they have rated as a top 10 pick fall to them at this selection (which is likely), they will take that player regardless of position.  An ideal outfield prospect is Gainesville, Florida high school outfielder Derrick Robinson.  He is similar to Denard Span, with some sources claiming that he may be the fastest high school prospect ever!  One risk with Robinson however, is that he is also considering attending the University of Florida on a football scholarship.  One high school pitcher in whom they would have great interest is Kyle Drabek.  Kyle, the son of former Cy Young winner Doug Drabek, is considered the top high school pitching prospect and will likely be gone by the 20th selection.

In the second round, they will likely concentrate on a pitcher.  Will they take another college pitcher such as Jesse Crain, Scott Baker or Kevin Slowey who all were taken in the second round in three of the past four years?  Or will they take a high school pitcher, perhaps someone like Anthony Swarzak who had first round talent and dropped to the Twins in the second round of the 2004 draft?

They may take another college pitcher in round three. Perhaps it will be someone like Ryan Mullins (D3/2005), who also had first round talent but dropped because of an error in judgement related to an off field incident.  It would be ideal if the Twins can land players in both the second and third round whom their scouts believe have first round talent.  

They will have three selections in rounds four and five in which they will likely concentrate on high school prospects to fill whatever positions they didn't fill with their first round pick...third base or outfield.  

Rounds 6 through 10 is a point in the draft where they will begin selecting players to fill out their Elizabethton roster.  This could include a college catcher, one or two college pitchers, and perhaps both college and high school outfielders.

If they hold to their previous tendancies, they will look to take players in Rounds 11 through 15 that have dropped substantially for whatever reason.  Last season they selected pitcher Brian Kirwin in the 11th round.  He was considered as a potential first round pick, however, injured his knee playing football in his senior year and didn't play baseball in 2005.  The Twins were satisfied that his knee would be fine and signed him in August with a $500,000 signing bonus shortly before enrolling at UCLA (major league rules prohibit a team from signing a player upon his beginning classes at a four year university).  David Duncan was selected in the 14th round.  The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Minnesota, St. Louis and San Diego were all considering selcting the 6'7 lefty in the second round.  All backed off when they learned that he was holding to his demand of a $650,000 signing bonus which was higher than the slotted money for where he would have been drafted.  Duncan fell all the way to the Twins in the 14th round.  It was reported that the Twins offered him similar money as Kirwin, however, Duncan held to his prior demands and chose to attend Georgia Tech.  Look for the Twins to draft high school players with circumstances such as these at this part of the draft.  With less selections than in previous years, they should have more flexibility to sign several of these players.

In rounds 16 through 25 they will continue drafting players of interest to fill out their Elizabethton and Gulf Coast League rosters.  With less picks in the high rounds, look for the Twins to sign most of their first 20 to 25 picks.

They will select another 25 players, however, few will sign this summer.  Each year the Twins will sign several players (usually high school picks who attended junior college) from the preceding draft following their college season.  They signed 5 Draft and Follow players from the 2004 draft last spring, including Rochester, Minnesota closer Aaron Craig (Draft/28), third baseman Daniel Berg (D/30), outfielder Josh Land (D/38), and slugger Danny Santiesteban (D/39).  As of this date it is unknown who or how many draft and follows will be signed this spring from the 2005 draft.  The Twins scouts will follow these selections and a few will be signed in spring, 2007.

For much of the past decade, the Twins organization has done as good of a job as any at scouting for the annual draft.  It will be exciting to follow this year's selections as they enter the system later this summer.

For a related article, watch for the first issue of Gameday throughout the month of April.          

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