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Catching up with the Twins' 2014 draft picks

How has Minnesota's Class of 2014 performed so far?

Rich Schultz

We're pretty aware of our minor league players and the systems as a whole here at Twinkie Town, but we have yet to look in on the 2014 draft class to see how their debuts have been coming along. Here's a list of every player that Minnesota signed in 2014, and their performance/level to date.

There seem to be a few standouts early on:

  • Nick Gordon, if not for his performance than for his status as the top pick
  • Nick Burdi, for real
  • Jake Reed (not the ex-Viking)
  • Max Murphy
  • Tanner English
  • Zach Tillery
  • Matt Batts
How do you feel the class of 2014 has performed so far?

Round 1, Pick 5 Nick Gordon SS Elizabethton (R)
Gordon has had a start that has seen his coaches put him through the paces. He's hitting just fine, putting together a .290/.328/.359 line through 53 games, but he's also been asked to steal frequently (he's 10-for-16), and has had only the rare day off. He's even had six starts at designated hitter to ensure he's still seeing live pitching even when he's not in the field. Reports of his defense, attitude and work ethic have been positive from all corners.
Round 2, Pick 46 Nick Burdi RHP Fort Myers (A+)
As one of the draft's most heralded bullpen arms, Burdi has - so far - been as advertised. He struck out 26 in 13 innings in Cedar Rapids, with four of the six runs he allowed coming in his first appearance. Burdi also walked eight, but that didn't stop the Twins from promoting him to Fort Myers. He's now made five appearances for the Miracle, striking out nine in five innings while walking one, giving up four hits. He has yet to be scored upon since his promotion. A late-season Major League debut in 2015 isn't out of the question.
Round 3, Pick 79 Michael Cederoth RHP Elizabethton (R)
One of the few pitchers taken at the front of the draft to see the hill as a full-time starter, Ceredoth's debut season has been a good one. He's struck out 41 in 44.2 innings while walking 18, and just one of his 40 hits allowed has gone for a home run. He's been a bit wild and he has yet to have a start where he's completed six innings, but it's a solid start. He owns a 3.63 ERA in ten starts.
Round 4, Pick 110 Sam Clay LHP Elizabethton (R)
Clay, like Burdi before him, has been impressive in his appearances out of the bullpen in some respects: 39 strikeouts in 25.2 innings. But he's given up 31 hits, walked 17, and in just 17 appearances he's offered up ten...TEN...wild pitches. And that includes none in his last five games. If somebody can get this guy to reign it in, there is some wicked stuff here.
Round 5, Pick 140 Jake Reed RHP Cedar Rapids (A)
Reed was so good in his first four appearances of the season in Elizabethton (19 innings, 1 earned run, 7 hits, 25 strikeouts, 2 walks), that he's already been promoted. In 14 appearances (22 innings) for the Kernels he's struck out 29, walked two, and given up one earned run on the road to a 0.41 ERA. At this point, I'd love to see what he can do in Fort Myers. Keep it going. (It probably helps that he was a pretty good receiver for the Vikings in the mid-90s, too.)
Round 6, Pick 170 John Curtiss RHP Elizabethton (R)
Yet another in a line of collegiate pitcher selections, Curtiss has made six starts and three relief appearances for the rookie league Twins. The 2.30 ERA is sexy, as are the 41 strikeouts and seven walks in 31.1 innings. He'd be the second pitcher in the top ten Twins picks of 2014 to be a starter if he can stick.
Round 8, Pick 230 Keaton Steele RHP Elizabethton (R)
Steele, like Burdi, was shelled in his first outing. Still, he's posted a 3.14 ERA in 28.2 innings, striking out 30 and walking nine. He turns 23 in October, so it would be good to see Steele move quickly. Based on his performance so far I'd say he's on pace for an aggressive push in 2015.
Round 9, Pick 260 Max Murphy CF Cedar Rapids (A)
As one of the few picks who has already graduated to the next level, it's easy to see why. Murphy lit up Elizabethton's opponents over 35 games, hitting .378/.483/.723 in 151 plate appearances. He's batting .252/.325/.437 in 114 plate appearances for Cedar Rapids so far, and he's 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts all summer, but where he walked 22 times and struck out 34 for the rookie league team he's collected 38 strikeouts and just seven walks for the Kernels to date.
Round 10, Pick 290 Randy LeBlanc RHP Elizabethton (R)
Continuing to show that the Twins made some solid decisions on relief arms, at least to this point, LeBlanc has struck out 30 in 34 innings for his rookie league team while walking just four. The sheer volume of hits is again worth watching (39 so far), but all in all it's been another good debut. On the other hand, at 22 years old, LeBlanc is a full year and a half older than his average competition.
Round 11, Pick 320 Tanner English CF Elizabethton (R)
English isn't too far off the pace set by Murphy, and is batting .347/.468/.525 through 29 games. English was a perfectly good hitter for South Carolina in his three years playing in college (.289/.355/.366), but his hot start is a bit unexpected. Will we see him scale it back a bit as the season winds down? It's been a good debut for English regardless of how he finishes 2014.
Round 12, Pick 350 Pat Kelly 2B Elizabethton (R)
The starting second baseman for Elizabethton since he signed, Kelly has had a streaky start. He's now hitting .231/.271/.298 through 37 games, though, and has therefore struggled moreso than any of the other picks we've discussed so far on this list.
Round 13, Pick 380 Zach Tillery RHP GCL Twins (R)
Tillery has done well in his rookie league debut, essentially acting as a starter but technically getting five in 11 appearances. He seems to start one game, then come in for relief the next, and then will start the following game again. It's a pattern that's worked so far, helping the Twins discover which pitchers may be able to start as the advance through the system, and Tillery has rewarded them with a 2.31 ERA in 35 innings. He's struck out 25, walked nine, and surrendered 27 hits - none of them home runs.
Round 14, Pick 410 Tyler Mautner 3B Elizabethton (R)
Acting as Elizabethton's starting third baseman since being drafted, the former University of Buffalo standout has struggled. After an extended hitless streak he's now hit safely in his last four games, upping his line to .204/.304/.357, but the strong strikeout-to-walk ratio from college (38 walks and 38 hits in 53 games his Junior season for Buffalo) hasn't translated to his professional debut: 14 walks versus 40 strikeouts in 44 games.
Round 15, Pick 440 Roberto Gonzalez RF GCL Twins (R)
Gonzalez is on the 60-day disabled list, and hasn't played since taking three walks on July 25. His organizational debut saw him hit .233/.313/.302 in only 13 games. A prep selection from Florida, Gonzalez should have a good opportunity to come back and prove what he can do in 2015.
Round 16, Pick 470 Tyler Kuresa 1B Elizabethton (R)
The Twins like Kuresa so much they drafted him twice - once in the 11th round in 2010. He didn't sign after being selected by the Braves in the 14th round of the 2013 draft, either. In his third time around, he's debuted at Elizabethton at age 21 and has hit .291/.366/.470 in 43 games as his team's primary first baseman. He'll turn 22 in November, but it's a good showing for a 16th-round selection.
Round 17, Pick 500 Matt Batts LHP Cedar Rapids (A)
Batts is looking like a steal so far, although he doesn't steal bases his name implies...does he bat. He's been promoted twice this season, blowing through hitters for the GCL squad and in Elizabethton, and he's now in the rotation for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. In nine starts and three relief appearances this season he's compiled a 1.84 ERA in 58.2 innings, striking out 65 and walking just three. Opponents have hit .197 off of him, including a better than solid .221 for the Kernels. Batts could be one to watch if his first 12 appearances are anything to go by, but he's also 23 years old. You might say he did what he was supposed to in his first two levels, but now that he's in Cedar Rapids we should start paying attention.
Round 18, Pick 530 T.J. White 3B Elizabethton (R)
Back in the game this month, White has hit just .184/.289/.211 in 11 games. There isn't much to go on here, but White is something of a flyer anyway after hitting .295/.367/.386 at UNLV over three years.
Round 19, Pick 560 Jarrard Poteete C GCL Twins (R)
You should always cheer for a player named Poteete, but it hasn't been easy so far: Jarrard has hit just .219/.293/.305 in 33 games this year. He seems to be a capable catcher in terms of arm strength though, having caught 11 of 27 attempted stolen bases (41%).
Round 21, Pick 620 Onas Farfan LHP GCL Twins (R)
In six games, Farfan has thrown 15 wild innings. He's walked 11, hit a batter, balked twice, and offered up a trio of wild pitches. The 15 strikeouts, while a 9.0 K/9, is a decent but not overwhelming 21% strikeout rate. He needs to get himself under control.
Round 22, Pick 650 Trevor Hildenberger RHP GCL Twins (R)
It's been straight relief for Hildenberger, throwing 28 innings in 23 appearances, striking out 30 and walking five. Just one of his 27 hits allowed has been a hole run. At 23, it's another case where we need to see him succeed versus older, more age-appropriate hitters before we get too excited. Still, a 2.57 ERA is a positive indicator that he can handle younger competition, and that's important, too.
Round 23, Pick 680 Miles Nordgren RHP GCL Twins (R)
Nordgren technically only has one start to his credit, but he's been going multiple innings pretty much every time out. In 15 games he's tallies 41.1 innings, striking out just 18 and walking eight, but the most concerning issue is that batters are hitting .277 off of him. He clearly doesn't miss many bats as a 22-year old facing rookie-league competition, so it will be interesting to see how he copes.
Round 26, Pick 770 Blake Schmit SS Elizabethton (R)
It's hard to play too much short when Nick Gordon is on your team, but Schmit has still appeared in 18 games there. In 21 games overall he's batting a pretty awful .157/.241/.171 as a 22-year old in a rookie league. Perhaps he would have a better chance at performing with more playing time, but right now that's not an option unless he can be plugged into other positions.
Round 27, Pick 800 Gabriel Ojeda C GCL Twins (R)
Ojeda has caught just seven games for the GCL Twins, otherwise appearing as a designated hitter. He's collected just two extra-base hits in 24 games, and is batting .179/.276/.209.
Round 28, Pick 830 Austin Diemer CF Elizabethton (R)
Diemer has split his time between left and center, with two thirds of his time being spent in the latter position. He's stolen ten bases in 12 attempts, but he's struck out 53 times in 54 games and is hitting .222/.303/.586.
Round 30, Pick 890 Michael Theofanopoulos LHP GCL Twins (R)
In 22.2 innings over ten games, Theofanopoulos (I'll learn to spell that one pretty quickly) has struck out 25, walked nine, and owns a 3.97 ERA. With a .290 batting average against he needs to improve his command, in spite of a walk rate that isn't terrible, because all-or-nothing pitchers tend to not do very well in the long term. Strikeouts: good! Hittability: bad.
Round 33, Round 980 Trey Vavra 1B Elizabethton (R)
Does that last name sound familiar? It should. Vavra is batting .314/.387/.448, with the slugging percentage buoyed by 18 doubles. He's striking out on the wrong side of the 2-to-1 ratio, so his success appears to depend on how well his contact skills progress as he moves through the system.
Round 37, Pick 1100 Tyree Davis CF GCL Twins (R)
One of the few prep picks on the list, Davis has really struggled. In 36 games he's 9-for-97 (.093) for a .376 OPS. He's stolen seven bases in eight attempts. It's not going to be an easy road.
Round 38, Pick 1130 Brett Doe C Elizabethton (R)
Doe has caught in 21 of his 23 games in his debut, collecting a .207/.313/.345 line. The bottom of the 2014 Twins draft is littered with prep picks (six of Minnesota's 12 prep selections came in their last seven picks), so his claim to fame might be the last collegiate player taken by the Twins in 2014, and the final player signed as the last two picks both did not.