A couple of weeks ago I went through the foundations of the Minnesota Twins' 40-man roster. Be sure to click through to see what I found, but to summarize: the Twins like collegiate pitchers, prep position players, and of the 22 players who were Minnesota draft picks on the roster at that time, 13 were selections from the first three rounds.
To see where you're going it often helps to look at where you've come from. Here's how the Twins have drafted from 2008 and 2010.
* All draft info courtesy of BaseballReference.com
* Bref's inconsistency in logging players as RF/CF/LF or OF led to grouping all outfielders in one category
I don't think it comes as a surprise that the Twins drafted, by far, more right-handed pitchers than any other position. Nearly 40% of all Twins draft selections over the last three years have been focused here, which makes it easy to understand why the strength of this franchise has been pitching for so long.
This chart also shows what a crap shoot the Twins are playing as far as the development of position players. Outfielders as a whole are represented in fairly strong fashion (17% of all draft picks), and there was certainly some focus on the infield in 2010 when the Twins used 7 of their 50 picks on shortstops (14%), but considering the flame out rate of prospects in general and Minnesota's strong propensity for pitching you have to think the Twins front office understands that this is a tradeoff. A gamble that pits potential weakness in the infield for potential strength on the hill.
After the jump we'll examine the last three drafts individually.
Total Selections: 50
Strongest Pos: RHP, LHP, SS
Weakest Pos: 2B, 1B, 3B
Alex Wimmers, RHP, Collegiate Selection: At the time we figured he'd fly through the minors, but an injury and ineffectiveness has held him back a bit this season. He's definitely not on pace to reach Minnesota by 2012 anymore, but he could still contribute to the team by 2013 when he'll be 24. Still a very solid pick.
Niko Goodrum, SS, Prep Selection: Continuing the Twins' theme of college pitchers and high school position players, Goodrum was the highest-drafted shortstop for Minnesota since they took Trevor Plouffe in the first round back in 2004. Goodrum didn't hit in rookie ball last season, but he's young and, in spite of his tools, is still a long way out. He's just 19 this season, so it'll still be two or three years before the front office knows if it has something.
Patrick Dean, LHP, Collegiate Selection: Dean, who just turned 22 a little over a week ago, is pitching in Beloit. He's started three games and thrown 14.2 innings of baseball to a 3.07 ERA. If he can adjust a bit, and hopefully strike out a few more batters, he could potentially see high-A ball in Fort Myers late this season.
Eddie Rosario, OF, Prep Selection: Rosario announced his arrival in the Twins' system with authority, hitting .294/.343/.438 in 213 rookie league plate appearances. The Baseball Cube rates him highly in terms of power, batting, speed, and patience. Looks like a solid pick, even if it's very early in Rosario's development.
In general the 2010 draft wasn't very exciting for the Twins. Their one first round pick was spent on a collegiate strike-thrower with limited upside, which is likely to provide Minnesota value-for-money while likely not giving the squad a chance at a real championship-caliber player. The high-upside will have to come from high school position players, but Goodrum and Rosario were the only two taken in the first ten rounds. Nate Roberts, a fifth-round selection, blasted pitching to a .991 OPS last season and is currently hitting .301 with a .456 on-base percentage in Beloit.
Total Selections: 51
Strongest Pos: RHP, OF, LHP
Weakest Pos: 2B, 3B, 1B
Kyle Gibson, RHP, Collegiate Selection: Gibson is nearly ready, if not completely ready, to take the next step. At some point this season he will make his debut as a member of the Minnesota rotation, and he should remain there for at least the next six or seven seasons provided he can stay healthy. A fantastic value selection on a very good pitcher who slipped due to injuries. Could be a very good #2 starter.
Matthew Bashore, LHP, Collegiate Selection: Bashore made his Twins system debut by throwing two innings for Elizabethton in 2009. He struck out two and allowed three hits. And that's been it. He was shut down after that one appearance so bone chips could be removed from his elbow, and when 2010 came around he ended up needing Tommy John surgery. If Bashore can get back on the field this year that would be great, but for a guy who most hoped would be ready to contribute to the Twins by 2012 he now has to be considered a long shot. Depending on how, when...or if...he comes back. A solid pick as a compensation pick, but bad luck. We're hoping for the best here, and at 23 he's certainly young enough to bounce back.
Billy Bullock, RHP, Collegiate Selection: A strikeout pitcher by definition, he was dealt for a marginal 40-man roster player by the name of Scott Diamond. Who is currently sitting in Rochester, and seems unlikely to play for the Twins in 2011. Good pick, bad execution in trading him.
Ben Tootle, RHP, Collegiate Selection: Now in his second season in Beloit, Tootle continues to struggle with command. We slated him as a two-pitch power pitcher when he was drafted, but it looks like he's never been able to display the dominant side that, for a while, made him a potential first-round draft pick. Good gamble, hasn't paid off.
That's a mixed bag right there. A great first pick, followed by a pair of potential busts and a guy who appears to have been under-valued. Two other picks who stand out right now are Kane Holbrooks and Dakota Watts. Holbrooks (21st round) blew through rookie and single-A, but is in high-A Fort Myers to start this year. He's struggling with command and his strikeout rates have dropped, but he's 24 so you have to hope he'll adjust quickly. Watts, meanwhile, was a 16th round pick who's having a bit more luck. As a reliever and a year younger than Holbrooks, Watts has a better walk-to-strikeout ratio and is keeping base runner totals in check. Brian Dozier, a favorite around Twinkie Town, is also in Fort Myers as a 24-year old and hitting .322/.423/.472. If he keeps that up, Dozier will see double-A this season.
Total Selections: 52
Strongest Pos: RHP, OF, LHP
Weakest Pos: SS, C, 1B
Aaron Hicks, OF, Prep Selection: Everyone loves Hicks. He's toolsy, athletic, and at 21 is still very projectable. In spite of a minor injury this season, Hicks is showing off his great plate discipline in Fort Myers for the first time. At some point you hope that raw potential ripens faster. He still strikes out too much which is just as much due to contact skills than anything else. He has the speed but doesn't convert it into a high stolen base percentage. The Twins are obviously taking their time here, which is fine because he's not a player who looks like he should be rushed, and he'll likely stay in Fort Myers all season barring a change.
Carlos Guterriez, RHP, Collegiate Selection: The closest to the majors of the '08 class, Gutierrez has been a reliever exclusively this season. Very good ground ball rates mean he hasn't allowed a homer yet this season. Which means I've probably jinxed him. A good performer in spite of mediocre strikeout and walk rates, will likely see action with the Twins in September if not earlier.
Shooter Hunt, RHP, Collegiate Selection: Hunt is 24 and repeating his season in low-A Beloit. Great strikeout rates, even worse walk rates. If he'd only stop walking more batters than innings pitched he might find value. Figure it out, Shooter.
Tyler Ladendorf, SS, JuCo Selection: Dealt to Oakland in return for Orlando Cabrera in 2009, essentially a non-prospect. The talent is clearly there, but the execution isn't. No contact skills, no power.
B.J. Hermsen is a bright spot in what's been an under-developed draft to date. The right-hander is back in Beloit, for a full season most likely this time, at at just 21 is holding his own while not being overly impressive. He's currently allowing too many hits, but has the capability to cut down on his walks and, hopefully, nudge the strikeout rate above 6.0 K/9. Currently Hermsen is a starter, but his stuff might grade out better from the 'pen. Other standouts include Bobby Lanigan, another righty in double-A. The Twins love Daniel Osterbock, a lefty who doesn't look as projectible now that he's in double-A. A player of potential impact may be 10th round selection Evan Bigley, who made his debut in New Britain at the end of 2010 with a .336/.356/.540 line in 118 plate appearances. At 24, he's adjusting well as a full-time player at double-A, posting a respectable .770 OPS in 52 games to date. Fourth round outfielder Daniel Ortiz is impressing in Beloit at 21, posting an .848 OPS, while first baseman and ninth round pick Michael Gonzales is topping that with an .868 mark at age 23.
- The Twins will continue to target collegiate arms and high school position players. I doubt the Twins would take anything less than a sure thing high school pitcher, but if there is a collegiate position player that blows their socks off and is available at #30 I could see them bucking their own trend.
- Each draft, past the third round, needs to produce two or three potential contributors to a team. Scouting reports and numbers are just as useless as they are useful in some senses, and the deeper the Twins get into the draft the more likely it is that they're picking players who simply put up good numbers and have good makeup.
- Seth Stohs sent me an email disagreeing with that last point, saying: "I think they take more hard throwers with upside and risk at that point. In the 5-12 range, they take more of the 'sure thing' types."
- The Twins prefer control pitchers and guys with command over high-strikeout hurlers. Gibson combines both, which is why he fits. It seems the front office is less enthralled with guys like Hunt and Bullock.
- Should the Twins select an infielder with their first-round pick, tread carefully with optimism. Goodrum has a high ceiling but needs to show something before we get excited, while a guy like Ladendorf is a dime a dozen in the Minnesota minor league system.
- Minnesota likes safe picks who can contribute in a couple of years for their first pick, unless a talent like Hicks falls. The Twins are suckers for control pitchers and quick, athletic outfielders.