Taking a look at a team's history of first-round draft picks is a good way to get a handle on how well the club has drafted. In the 1970s, for example, the Twins were terrible. In the 2000s it was a mixed bag. Trevor Plouffe and Glen Perkins, drafted at #20 and #22 overall in 2004, still have the potential to add onto their legacies as draft picks.
Who has been Minnesota's most valuable draft pick in the last decade? Which selections are already fading from memory?
Selections: Matt Garza (25), Hank Sanchez (39)
Garza (20.5 fWAR)
Well, hey, look at that! The first guy we get to was the best pick of the last ten years, and virtually all of his innings have come with the not Minnesota Twins. The Twins did exhibit some interest in him over the last couple of years but obviously nothing was consummated. Delmon Young was in Minnesota for three-plus seasons, but only one (2010) saw him put forward a positive fWAR. Ostensibly he's hitting .315 for Baltimore this year while Garza continues his fall to being a mediocre pitcher.
Sanchez was a powerful first baseman whose ability to hit the baseball an inhuman distance was not matched by his ability to not hit the baseball. He struck out in an astonishing 36% of his plate appearances, and he was out of baseball in 2009. Clay Buchholz was selected three picks later by Boston; Jed Lowrie seven picks later, also by Boston; Chase Headley and Yunel Escobar were both taken in the second round. But Sanchez was the first first baseman selected in the 2005 draft, and Ike Davis didn't sign with the Rays and was re-drafted by the Mets in '08, so it's not like the team could have done better if that's what they were really looking for.
Selections: Chris Parmelee (20)
Parmelee (0.2 fWAR)
In spite of being the fourth prep position player taken in the 2006 draft, many pundits pegged Parmelee as the best prep hitter in the draft, praising his power potential as a future middle-of-the-order guy. He flamed out in Minnesota, finishing with a .249/.317/.392 triple slash in 273 games (901 plate appearances) and a grand total of 0.2 fWAR - thanks entirely to the 1.1 fWAR he accumulated in 21 games for the Twins late in 2011. Jon Jay (12.2 fWAR) continues to be the best outfielder taken later than Parmelee in the '06 draft.
Selections: Ben Revere (28)
Revere (7.0 fWAR)
As far as predictions go on draft day, Revere has pretty much hit the nail on the head. Plus speed, plus range, a decent hit tool - with no power, little arm strength, and not great accuracy. Flipping him for Trevor May and Vance Worley was a great deal, even if the Twins lost out on the best of whatever Worley still has in the tank. Revere hit .306 and stole 49 bases in 2014; 2015 hasn't been anywhere nearly as kind so far. If he ends up having a career that follows the path of Juan Pierre, it will be a good one.
Selections: Aaron Hicks (14), Carlos Gutierrez (27), Shooter Hunt (31)
Hicks (-0.5 fWAR)
The pundits liked Hicks coming out of the draft. He had (and still has) a live arm, and his raw skills as a prep selection meant everyone saw him as projectable. While the 2008 draft hasn't been kind to outfielders (Brett Lawrie and Ike Davis don't get much time out there these days), Hicks is finally being allowed to progress at a slower pace and has started the year with a bang at Triple-A. Perhaps his future on this list isn't as written in stone as it may have seemed at the end of 2014.
The Twins tried Gutierrez at starter and then shifted him to the bullpen when it became apparent he wouldn't make it in the rotation. His strikeout rates jumped but the command issues remained. He ended up with the Cubs for 2013 but combined for just 11.2 minor league innings. Right now he's not in organized baseball as far as I can tell.
He allowed just 149 hits in 193 innings, all while striking out 219 batters, but there was just no command with Hunt. For all the men he sent down on strikes he actually gave more hitters a free pass - 236 to be exact. That's a walk rate of 24%. He made 28 relief appearances for Fort Myers in 2011, but was done after that.
Selections: Kyle Gibson (22), Matt Bashore (46)
Gibson (2.0 fWAR)
Mike Trout, taking three picks later, something something. Every team, from 1 to 24, wished they'd have rated Trout higher than they did. In Gibson the Twins felt they were getting a steal on a collegiate arm that had fallen out of the Top 10. No pitcher taken after him in the first or supplementary rounds have made a dramatic impact, and if Gibson can find a way to be more consistent he could have a pretty good career. At 27, he still has plenty of time to contribute.
Bashore struggled with injuries from the word "Go." Two innings in his debut campaign in '09, followed by missing the whole of 2010, he made three starts in 2011, and then he was non-tendered. He did pitch 60 innings for Yankee affiliates in 2012, but after that he was done. It's unfortunate because, especially as a lefty, he looked like a promising pick - even if he would have profiled as a reliever long-term. Jason Kipnis was still on the board (63rd overall), but the Twins were focused on pitching - and rightfully so.
Selections: Alex Wimmers (21)
High floor, low ceiling, nearly Major League-ready, great curveball, average stuff. That's a summary of the scouting reports on Wimmers, who many thought would be ready to contribute by 2012 - even if at the back end of the rotation. It was a good pick for a team desperate for starting pitching. Sadly he's missed time for all kinds of reasons. He had a nice comeback year in 2014, but so far this year it's been a rough start. Now 26 and yet to master Double-A, it seems highly likely that Wimmers could be a complete miss. The Twins could move him back to the bullpen to see if he can salvage a career as a reliever. Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko (59th overall) and defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons (70th overall) were still available, but as for pitchers, Jesse Biddle(27th) and Noah Syndergaard (38th) went before the second round.
Selections: Levi Michael (30), Travis Harrison (50), Hudson Boyd (55)
Another pick who was considered very polished, Michael had Keith Law dub him the best shortstop in the draft ("although the competition for that title wasn't very strong") who probably would shift to second base. At the time, it was assumed that by 2014 we'd probably be seeing him in a Twins uniform, which hasn't come to pass. Still just 24, he's had a good start to the season in Double-A. A late-season promotion to Triple-A is certainly in the cards at this point, even though optimism should be dulled with a bit of caution based off of his early-career struggles in the lower levels.
Three seasons eligible for our prospect list; three seasons on our prospect list. He seems to have been permanently moved off of third base as he's spend all of 2015 and most of 2014 in the outfield. While his shimmer has a prospect has dimmed a little, there's still enough intrigue here to keep an eye on Harrison. Right now he looks like a potential bench/role player in the future.
In 2013 he was in Minnesota's official Top 20, and he's fallen quickly since then. I actually don't see him listed anywhere in the organization.
Selections: Byron Buxton (2), Jose Berrios (32), Luke Bard (42)
Missed all of 2014 after putting up video game numbers in 2012 and 2013. Back in the saddle for 2015 and has been streaking after a cold start. Could potentially debut for the Twins later this summer.
Potentially the best pitching prospect in the system and performing very well at Double-A. He could probably be promoted to Triple-A anytime, so we'll see how patient the Twins are will to be. A consensus Top 50 prospect in all of baseball.
Let's just say that Bard has a long way to go if he's going to have a career in baseball as a player.
Selections: Kohl Stewart (4)
2013's draft saw three pitchers go in the first four picks, and Stewart was the first prep pitcher taken after Mark Appel and Jon Gray. It's too early to really say whether this was a good pick or not, but it was certainly the best decision based on the information we had at the time. Minnesota was also looking at third baseman Clint Frazier (5th overall) and outfielder Austin Meadows (9th overall), among others, but in Stewart the Twins saw the upside of a front-line starter...and that's hard to pass up. It's certainly hard to justify taking a lower ceiling player so high in the draft. Right now the Twins would probably like to start seeing some better strikeout totals, even though Stewart's done well in his first three starts of the year. More importantly: he has to stay healthy.
Selections: Nick Gordon (5)
Gordon was considered as one of the rare players who have a good ceiling but also a relatively high floor. His defensive skill set means that, even if his bat has trouble developing, he could still attain a career as a big league defense-first shortstop. He's just getting into his first full season in Minnesota's system, but all reports seem to be positive for the time being.
Through the last ten years that's 18 draft picks, which have netted the Twins one starter who you'd have been happy to have as a member of a playoff rotation in his prime (Garza), one talented player who you could consider a regular (Gibson), a role player (Revere), a Quadruple-A guy (Parmelee), one prospect trying to find himself (Hicks), five busts (Sanchez, Gutierrez, Hunt, Bashore, Boyd), one permanently injured pitcher (Bard), three minor leaguers still coming along (Wimmers, Michael, Harrison), and - in the last couple of years - four Top 100 prospects (Buxton, Berrios, Stewart, Gordon).
At some point, players go from what seems to be a pick that does or doesn't make sense - to a pick that has a quantifiable value to the organization. If we're to combine the two into some kind of general list, here's how I'd break the picks down in terms of performance and potential performance - understanding that everyone is up for a change depending on their production, and admitting that it's an odd line to straddle for a number of players.
Good: Berrios, Gordon, Stewart, Garza
Average: Revere, Gibson
Below Average: Hicks, Wimmers, Michael, Bard, Parmelee, Harrison
Bad: Sanchez, Gutierrez, Hunt, Bashore, Boyd
Of course it's much easier to pick a better player when you're sitting at number four or five than when you're sitting in the mid to late-20s for the first round, but nevertheless the Twins didn't find a great deal of success between 2005 and 2010. Up next as we kick off our coverage leading up to the 2015 MLB Draft, we'll look at the best players Minnesota has drafted in the last ten years.