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Twins 2017 MLB Draft Preview: Position player depth chart

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Before the Twins select players in the 2017 draft, let’s look at the team’s depth in order to judge where drafted players would fit in with the organization.

San Diego Padres v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

There is a very simple rule for drafting in baseball: never draft for need. NEVER. Due to the inherent difficulty of baseball prospects take too long to develop. You may need a shortstop now, but the 18 year old you just drafted may not make it the majors for six years.

Instead, baseball teams try to take the best player available, building depth at multiple positions that they can use both to refill the major league roster and to swing trades for positions of less depth.

With the MLB draft on Monday we will take a look at the Twins organizational depth, identifying places of strength and weakness. We do this not to shift our views of who we want to draft (“Draft a starting pitcher because we have not had an ace for ten years!”), but instead so that we can appreciate how much the players we draft are worth to the organization.

An important note before I get into my depth chart: I only account for players who could legitimately (according to my own and others’ opinions) be major league players. Dan Rohlfing is the starting catcher for the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Twins Double-A affiliate. At 28 years old he is hitting a blistering .131/.215/.248. He is organizational depth—a very important element of a team’s player pool—but will not be listed here since the organization does not see him (hopefully) as a big leaguer anytime before the zombie apocalypse. The general rule of thumb is if the player is at or below a reasonable age for their level, or has attained some level of press from scouting types. Some players fit into multiple categories since they can play multiple positions, like Max Kepler being able to play center field.

So let’s begin!

Catchers

Player
Player
Jason Castro (MLB)
Chris Gimenez (MLB)
Mitch Garver (AAA)
John Ryan Murphy (AAA)
Ben Rortvedt (Low A)

The Twins have solid depth in the high minors, with Mitch Garver and John Ryan Murphy holding at Triple-A until the Twins move Jason Castro or Chris Gimenez or something. Like most teams, though, the Twins need more catching depth, and the gap of depth at Double-A and High-A is a bit concerning. Drafting catchers is hard, since so few “catchers” stay at the position, but it would be odd if the Twins do not pick a catcher with their first ten or fifteen picks.

First Basemen

Player
Player
Joe Mauer (MLB)
Miguel Sano (MLB)
Kennys Vargas (MLB)
Byung Ho Park (AAA)
Lewin Diaz (Low A)

Again, the Twins have some depth with Kennys Vargas and Byung Ho Park, but neither have shown they are capable of replacing Joe Mauer in the near future. You want Miguel Sano to stick at third, so there is a bit of a gap. Of course, first base depth changes quickly since anyone could be given a first baseman glove, but it would be good to see some the Twins draft some players with pop who will likely end up at first, even if they try them elsewhere early in their career.

Third Basemen

Player
Player
Miguel Sano (MLB)
Eduardo Escobar (MLB)
Niko Goodrum (AAA)
Nelson Molina (High A)
Travis Blankenhorn (Low A)
Trey Cabbage (Rookie)
Jose Miranda (Rookie)

Sano is firmly entrenched atop the depth chart here after an impressive spring defensively. With a future All-Star here, there is less importance placed on the depth of the position, considering the likes of utility types like Eduardo Escober and Ehire Adrianza (who can play third, although I did not list him). Even Jorge Polanco can play some third in a pinch. In terms of lower depth, there are some options—especially Travis Blankenhorn in Low-A Cedar Rapids, who is worth keeping an eye on despite a slow spring. This is not a particularly strong draft for third baseman, but there are some strong and slow shortstop types (like Blankenhorn was in high school) available in the early and middle rounds.

Middle Infield

Player
Player
Brian Dozier 2B (MLB)
Jorge Polanco (MLB)
Eduardo Escobar (MLB)
Ehire Adrianza (MLB)
Engelb Vielma (AAA)
Nick Gordon (AA)
Luis Arreaz 2B (High A)
Jermaine Palacois (Low A)
Travis Blankenhorn 2B (Low A)
Wander Javier (Rookie)

I lumped the middle infielders together because most of the Twins depth here can play both sides of second base. These are likely the positions with the most depth in the Twins organization, which is a good sign going forward. If Wander Javier becomes the prospect that some scouts believe he can, the Twins will have incredible depth and trade power (see: Brian Dozier) from their middle infield depth going forward. True shortstops are hard to find in the draft, but the Twins will likely take a few to tryout, as early as the second round.

Centerfielders

Player
Player
Byron Buxton (MLB)
Max Kepler (MLB)
Eddie Rosario (MLB)
Zach Granite (AAA)
Aaron Whitefield (Low A)
Akil Badoo (Rookie)

Byron Buxton is obviously the guy, but the depth here might be a bit overvalued. Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario can play center field in a pinch, but I would not want to see Rosario there every day, and I would rather have Kepler in right. Zack Granite does provide a good backup option and I would be surprised if we don’t see him this year. More high speed outfielders would be a great pickup for the Twins in the draft, and there is a plethora of options that will likely be available for the Twins second and third picks.

Corner Outfielders

Player
Player
Max Kepler (MLB)
Eddie Rosario (MLB)
Robbie Grossman (MLB)
Zach Granite (AAA)
Lamonte Wade (AA)
Jaylin Davis (Low A)
Alex Kiriloff (Low A)

The Twins have five solid corner outfielders at or above Double-A Chattanooga, which I consider to be good depth. Players in the lower ranks are still trying to fit in up the middle spots, so there may be more depth in from current players in the future. There is always draft depth at the corner outfield spots, so the Twins will surely be able to add more depth next week.

Thoughts

Of course, the Twins have also been linked to Brendan McKay and Pavin Smith, the college first basemen who would help give more depth behind Joe Mauer. This is likely the biggest need in the system for position players, so selecting McKay first overall as a hitter would both be taking one of the best players available and help fill a need.

Expect up-the-middle types (players who will start at C, SS, and CF until they prove they cannot play those positions) in the first ten picks when the team does not take pitchers. Royce Lewis has been linked to the Twins in the past and would add to the depth at SS or CF. There are a number of toolsy outfielder like Heliot Ramos, Bubba Thompson, Quentin Holmes, and Drew Waters who may fall to the Twins at 35 and 37 as well.

Much of the hype around the Twins first pick has focused on pitchers, and next we will look at our depth there, which shows just why the Twins have been linked to so many pitchers.