Twins Select Four College Pitchers On Day One

Nothing preppy about Minnesota's top four picks.

Pick #22:  Kyle Gibson, RHP
U Missouri Columbia
Age:  21

Looking around the 'net at scouting reports on Gibson, there are a lot of things that come up every time.

  • Three-pitch pitcher, leading with a solid fastball
  • He's tall and maybe a bit too thin
  • Good makeup
  • Already has mound presence
  • Good command
  • Very projectable

Where the reports vary, primarily there are two points of dissention.  First, either his changeup is already a plus-pitch and better than his slider, or it's not much more than a "show me" pitch; one he can throw just to let hitters know its there and to keep them from sitting on the fastball or slider.  Second, how projectable is he?  Either he's a guy who fits as a strong number two type, or he looks mid-rotation.  Right now the Twins have plenty of mid-rotation types, so it would be great to see Gibson fully healthy and comfortable in 2010 to see where he's at. He'll turn 22 before the end of the MLB playoffs.

Thoughts:  It would have been hard to pick a better pitcher at this point in the draft.  There may have been lower-risk ones on the board, but none with the potential ceiling.  I'm more than pleased with the selection of Gibson.

Pick #46:  Matthew Bashore, LHP
Indiana University
Age:  21

Just 21 in April, Bashore has been a strikeout pitcher the last couple of seasons.  He was a big part of Indiana U's pitching staff, largel as a stater.  His fastball is good, upper-80's to low-90's with good vertical and horizontal movement according to scouting reports.  Bashore's biggest challenge as he makes the transition to the professional ranks will be to add a second quality pitch.  And then hopefully a third.  Right now it sounds like his breaking ball is below average, and the off-speed pitch is entirely a "show-me" offering.  Without another pitch to compliment his fastball, with Bashore's physical abilities he could still put up some good numbers in the lower levels of the farm.  But if he wants to succeed, even as a reliever, pitch development is a must.

Thoughts:  To me, Bashore is a project.  But if the Twins can get him to up the game on his secondary pitches he could be in the Minnesota bullpen in 2012.

Pick #70:  Billy Bullock, RHP
U of Florida
Age:  21

Bullock improved his stock over the last three months.  Ih March, nobody knew about him.  But from April on, he became the best collegiate closer in the draft.  Where his fastball used to settle in the upper-80's and low-90's, be started touching 96-98 every time out.  Whether his delivery was tweaked to tap that velocity potential or whether he just started letting loose, I have no diea, but I do know that some scouts have graded his fastball as an All-Star pitch.  His secondary pitches need work, but at this point in the draft that's not really a surprise.  The slider needs a little angle on it, as well as consistency in quality and control.  His changeup has no movement with velocity in the lower 80's, which wouldn't be so bad with that fastball, except that he telegraphs it by slowing down his arm.  The mechanics need work, because right now he isn't too fluid in the second half of his delivery, but there's no denying that the Twins must really like his arm strength and that fastball.  ESPN brings up that the pitcher most like him from the 2008 draft class, Ryan Perry, is currently in MLB.

Thoughts:  The fastball intrigues me, but I'm curious about whee the velocity spike came from. And even with an upper-90's fastball, which he'll need to take a litte off of to retain command of anyway, a one-pitch pitcher won't find success very often.  If he develops another pitch or two though, he could be vey exciting.

Pick #101:  Ben Tootle, RHP
Jacksonville State U
Age:  21

Early in the college season, Tootle was seen as a solid first-round choice.  Then he caught a bug, which kept him out for about a month; when he returned he'd lost weight, and velocity off of his incredible fastball.  His stock fell.  He recovered, getting the fastball back up to 97 mph, but what happened in the interum was enough to keep him out of the first round.  Tootle has a very high leg kick, which appears to help him get drive off the rubber.  Right now he categorizes as a two-pitch power pitcher, with a relatively flat (but very fast) fastball and a hard slider (or curve, depending on the report).  All reports are uniform on his chaneup, which needs a lot of work.  He definitely projects as a bullpen arm, but while his fastball isn't rated as highly as Bullock's, his breaking ball/fastball combination potential both grade out above average.  He's aggressive on the mound, and with two quality pitches could move quickly.

Thoughts:  Tootle is a great selection for the third round.  As long as he's healthy, I wouldn't be surprised if he's the first of this group to reach the majors.

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