With the Twins selecting fourth in Thursday's draft, there's been quite a bit written regarding the options that present themselves at that spot. Most feel the Twins will take prep right-hander Kohl Stewart, and that'd be a fine pick. He has ace upside and is a tremendous athlete, evidenced by his current commitment to go back-up Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M. There have been recent rumblings that the Astros could take UNC third baseman Colin Moran, which would allow the Twins to land one of the "Big Three" -- Mark Appel, Jonathan Gray or Kris Bryant. Lastly, there's the rumor that they could cut a deal with prep catcher Reese McGuire and spend more heavily later in the draft.
That segues into the real issue of this post, and that's to identify some of the "tough signs" later in the draft. These are typically high school players who have strong commitments that they intend to honor, though Sean Manaea's case is an exception to that rule. Baseball America's Jim Callis recently listed who he feels will be the five toughest signs, and they're listed below (with the addition of MN high school OF Ryan Boldt, who many including ESPN's Keith Law feel could be college-bound).
Even if the Twins don't draft McGuire, they could look to spend on one of these players with their second pick at No. 43 (which has a slot value of $1.294M) if they're on the board. I've included their ranks from Baseball America, Law and MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo:
- Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State -- Manaea's stock has dropped precipitously thanks to injuries -- primarily a hip issue. His Cape Cod League performance last summer and 96 mph fastball from the left side had scouts projecting him as a potential No. 1 overall pick. Now, he's likely to fall out of the Top 10, but that's not stopping adviser Scott Boras from targeting a hefty payday. Boras said there won't be a discount for Manaea if he slips in the draft, and that could scare teams off. If he's still looking for Top 10 money, that would mean at least $2.92M. Combined with the $4.54M slot value for the No. 4 overall pick, that'd mean the Twins ponying up around $7.6M on their first two picks, which seems unlikely given their $8.26M bonus pool. All of that, of course, is assuming Manaea is even available at No. 43, which strikes me as unlikely, but weird things often happen in the draft. Ranks: BA (18), Law (8), Mayo (13)
- Connor Jones, RHP, High School (Virgina) -- Jones has already sent a written letter to all 30 teams informing them that he intends to honor his commitment to the University of Virginia, which should be enough to make teams understandably wary. Baseball America ranked Jones as the draft's 34th-best prospect, noting that he has the talent to sneak into the first round but signability will probably hold him down. He seems to be a real option at No. 43 if the Twins are comfortable going well over the slot value. Ranks: BA (34), Law (29), Mayo (53)
- Kyle Serrano, RHP, High School (Tennessee) -- Serrano is committed to attend the University of Tennessee, which holds significantly more weight for him than most college recruits because his dad is the coach. He sits 90-94 mph, according to BA, and has shown a strong changeup in the past (BA notes that teaching a changeup is something his father specializes in). Law calls his curveball a true out pitch. Ranks: BA (35), Law (21), Mayo (43)
- Ryan Boldt, OF, Red Wing High School (MN) -- Boldt wasn't one of the names listed by Callis, but he's an interesting case in that he was ranked in the Top 15-20 talents in the draft by multiple outlets before a torn meniscus ended his season. Now that he likely won't go in the first round, Boldt may be more likely to honor a commitment to Nebraska. Teams that were intrigued by his speed and his "potential for average tools across the board" (per BA, referring to tools other than his speed), however, might be willing to go above slot to try to sign him away from the Cornhuskers. Darren Wolfson reported last week that the Twins weren't looking at Boldt at No. 43, but things can change quickly, and with Boldt there's a chance he could be on the board when the Twins pick at No. 78. Ranks: BA (58), Law (39), Mayo (39)
- Dustin Peterson, SS, High School (Arizona) -- Peterson is the younger brother of soon-to-be first-rounder D.J. Peterson (New Mexico's third baseman). The younger Peterson is committed to Arizona, but his "lightning quick hands" and compact swing help BA to project above-average power to all fields down the line. Law ranks Dustin as a better prospect than his brother and feels he can stick at second base. Ranks: BA (62), Law (36), Mayo (73)
- Cavan Biggio, 2B, High School (Texas) -- Biggio is indeed the son of Craig Biggio. He profiles primarily as a bat-first second baseman according to reports, and his baseball instincts have drawn solid reviews. He's been coached by his father throughout high school, and it never hurts to have one of the best second basemen ever in your ear during your developmental years. Biggio's committed to Notre Dame. BA speculates that Houston will be interested in him at No. 40 and that he might not be signable beyond that pick. Ranks: BA (67), Mayo (57), Law (65)
These guys may not end up being drafted anywhere near where the Twins pick. Projecting that far into the draft is a fool's errand, because even the Top 10 is near impossible to predict accurately. Still, it's likely that at least one of them is on the board come the 43rd selection. If you're hoping for the Twins to go all out with their first few picks, these are some names to watch, because their commitments and/or injuries might let them slip further than their talent should.
Steve Adams also writes for MLBTradeRumors.com and MLB.com. You can follow him Twitter: @Adams_Steve