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Twins 2018 MLB Draft: Early mock drafts

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Taking a look at who the media thinks the Twins could be drafting in the first round this year.

2014 MLB Draft Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Last year the Twins had the first overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft and the most Bonus Slot Money to spend on the players they drafted. The team was able to use those picks and that pool of money to have an exceptional draft, bringing in a high level of talent to their farm system including their first, eigth, and ninth best prospects according to MLB.com.

This years draft will be slightly less exciting for the Twins, who are picking 20th overall in the first round. Still, there are plenty of quality prospects out there for the taking. This far in advance of the draft it is nearly impossible to know with any certainty who the Twins are picking— although we know it most likely won’t be Casey Mize— but there have been a string of mock drafts by prospects pundits to give us a glimpse into our draft future.

Here are some of the potential draftees that have been highlighted in some early mock drafts.

Jackson Kowar, RHP, Florida

Draft by Twins in mock drafts by: Keith Law, ESPN (May 1st), Jim Callis, MLB.com (May 11th), Jonathon Mayo, MLB.com (May 17th)

13th Overall Draft Prospect (According to MLB.com)
Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 50 | Overall: 55

Strengths

Kowar throws his fastball generally in the 92-95 mph range and can reach up to 98 at times. He combos his heater with a plus changeup that sits in the low 80s and is considered one of the best in the draft class. He also throws a curveball that at its best can be a solid offering.

Listed at 6’6” and 180lbs Kowar has both a solid body and room to add some weight to help his durability. His arm motion is quite smooth and he comes in at a solid low 34 arm angle.

Kowar has been part of a very good Florida rotation the last two years and has improved his stats each year he has been in college. He has faired well, especially this year, against some of the top college teams in the SEC.

Weaknesses

When Kowar is really on he throws a hard fastball with good movement and command, a great changeup, and a curveball that is solid enough to keep hitters honest. Kowar’s problem is that he is not always on his A game. His fastball will often flatten out, and his curveball tends to be more of a get-me-over pitch (a mediocre pitch thrown in an 0-0 or 1-0 count to confuse hitters expecting a fastball) more often than not. Keith Law’s grades for Kowar are a bit less exciting than MLB.com’s giving his fastball a 55 grade for lack of movement and his curveball and control 45 grades at present.

Wile Kowar has been good for Florida this year, his numbers have not been particularly exciting. In 81 innings over 13 starts in the regular season this year he has a very good 2.56 ERA, but he only struck out 80 batters and walked 32.

While Kowar has good arm action I think he tends to rush his delivery a bit which leads to some of his inconsistency both inning-to-inning and game-to-game

Thoughts

Kowar is an interesting mix of positives (velocity, changeup, history against solid opponents, size) and negatives (lack of breaking pitch, lack of consistent fastball movement, control issues). Any team who takes him are betting that they can at least improve his curve and control.

Kowar profiles as a mid-rotation starter with some upside if he can fix a few things, and a solid fastball-changeup reliever at worst. If he falls to the Twins at the 20th pick he would be a solid addition that could move up the minor leagues quickly.

Logan Gilbert, RHP, Stetson

Drafted by Twins in a mock draft by: Jonathon Mayo, MLB.com (April 30th

26th Overall Draft prospect (according to MLB.com):
Fastball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overal: 50

Strengths

When he is at his best Gilbert operates with a mid-90s fastball that touches 97 and has good arm-side run. He also has a solid slider that can miss bats, a good changeup, and a slow curveball that is good enough to keep in his repertoire.

Gilbert is a big body at 6’6” and 225 lbs but he is very athletic for his size and he has an easy delivery and arm action that allows for solid control.

Gilbert pitched well for Stetson this spring, with a 134/20 K/BB ratio in 93 innings along with a 2.61 ERA. With the perfect body and three potentially above-average pitches, Gilbert projects as a mid-rotation starter with upside.

Weaknesses

There are only two real weaknesses for Gilbert. The first is that as dominant as he has been, he isn’t pitching against the best competition at Stetson. Of course, Cy Young winner Cory Kluber also pitched for Stetson so put as much stock in that weakness as you wish.

The real weakness for Gilbert is that his stuff dipped heavily this spring, with his fastball sitting in the low 90s and only hitting 94. As the season wore on his fastball got back into the mid-90s (which makes his fastball more of a 60 grade pitch).

Thoughts

Gilbert is a good prospect, but a tad unexciting in my opinion. If he is able to add a bit to his frame and maintain his fastball velocity he will have a great fastball, but none of his off speed pitches project to be plus options as far as I’ve heard. This makes him a projectable inning-eating number three starter, which is a solid pick at 20th overall. Like Kowar, Gilbert should hopefully be able to move quickly through the minors, and he won’t turn 22 until May of next year.

Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto High School (Tennessee)

Draft by Twins in mock draft by: Nick Faleris and Burke Granger (20/80 Baseball), May 4th

16th Overall Draft Prospect (According to MLB.com)
Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 55

Strengths

Every year there is one or two players in the draft with an MLB bloodline. Weathers is the foremost bloodline prospect this year, the son of former MLB pitcher Ryan Weathers. Ryan has a solid three pitch mix that features a 90-93 MPH fastball that tops out at 95 with a great spin rate that gives it good movement and deception. He has a solid curveball and an advanced changeup for his age. His curveball is already above average and his change should get there easily with more usage.

Weathers is listed at 6’2” and 210 lbs which gives him a solid pitching body. He is a good athlete with an easy delivery that gives him advanced control which allows his above-average stuff to play up a bit.

Weaknesses

Weathers is listed at 6’2” and 210lbs which means he doesn’t have much room for projection left. He is athletic for his size, but without room for a bit more weight he will likely have trouble adding more velocity.

He is comitted to Vanderbilt so he should demand a decent signing bonus to make him turn pro. Of course, the Twins did sign Blayne Enlow away from LSU last year with an above-slot deal in the third round.

Thoughts

I find Weathers to be similar to Jacob Heatherly, drafted by the Reds in the third round in 2017. They both came into their draft year as physically filled-out lefties who can touch 95 mph but sit in the low 90s. For that matter, they are both slightly similar to Twins prospect Stephen Gonsalves as crafty lefties with a high floor. Gonsalves has proven to be a solid prospect who is now just one call away from the majors, but the difference here is that the Twins got their “projectible lefty” pick in the 4th round, instead of the first.

Multiple sources that the Twins brass have scouted Weathers fairly heavily. He would be a solid but unexciting first round pick since he will probably never throw harder than he does now, and doesn’t project to have a true plus pitch. That said, if he is willing to take an above slot deal in the second or third round he would be a great adddition to any farm system, especially since people think he could move through the low minors quickly.

Brice Turang, SS, Santiago High School (California)

Drafted by the Twins in a mock draft by: Eric Logenhagen and Kiley McDaniel (Fangraphs), May 15th

22nd Overall Draft Prospect (According to MLB.com)
Hitting: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 60 | Field: 55 | Arm: 55 | Overall: 50

Strengths

Turang is another bloodline prospect, his father Brian was a former utility player for the Mariners. Turang is one of the top high school athletes in the draft and perhaps the best shortstop in the prep ranks.

People who believe in Turang see a legitimate shortstop prospect who won’t have to move to second base. He has advanced fielding instincts and solid footwork, along with an arm that should play at shortstop. He is a plus and possibly plus-plus runner whose speed will help in the infield or in the outfield if he does need to shift.

Turang’s bat is harder to peg down, especially after a weak spring, but most believe he should become a solid hitter considering his advanced approach at the plate. Some media members see raw power in batting practice that Turang has yet to tap into during games.

Weaknesses

Like his strengths, Turang’s weaknesses are really in the eye of the beholder. Keith Law believes in Turang’s fielding ability, but others feel like his arm will limit his ability to stay at short.

Offensively, some like Law believe in his power potential but just haven’t seen enough offense from him to trust him as a hitter.

Turang does have a commitment to LSU, so if he slips too far he may be unsignable.

Thoughts

Every draft class seems to have a prep shortstop who is viewed as one of the best players in the fall but falls as we get closer to the draft. Turang is that player this year, as his stock has taken a bit of a dive after a so-so summer circuit and lackluster spring.

Last year’s version of Turang was Brady McConnell, who ended up honoring his comittment to Florida where he only played a handful of games this spring. Turang’s current profile is similar to that of Twins prospect Nick Gordon, although Gordon’s projections on draft day had a bit more upside. Drafting up-the-middle players is a solid strategy, and Turang would add even more depth at short in the Twins system, but he is far from a sure thing despite (or perhaps because of) being in the prospect spotlight for some time.

Cole Winn, RHP, Orange Lutheran (California)

Drafted by Twins in a mock draft by: Keith Law, ESPN (May 17th)

15th Overall Draft Prospect (According to MLB.Com)
Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 55

Strengths

Cole Winn has had a lot of helium this spring, rising up draft boards as we have gotten closer to the draft. Winn throws a 60 grade fastball which he can maintain his 90-94 mph velocity deep into starts. His slider has progressed positively this spring, as the pitch that used to be a cutter is now more of a power slider. Many outlets credit Winn with a plus curveball and a developing slider/cutter, so perhaps the MLB.com guys have these two pithes combined in their grading. He also has good feel for his changeup although he doesn’t use it much.

Winn has a smooth and easy delivery that allows him to control his pitches well. At 6’2” and 195lbs, he doesn’t have a ton of projection left but with an extra 10-15lbs on his frame he should have plenty of size to maintain his velocity and stay durable.

Weaknesses

Well.. I suppose Winn is a prep pitcher, that is the only weakness that has been mentioned in coverage so far. Prep pitchers take a long time to develop and always have the Tommy John boogeyman to worry about. Winn has a solid delivery but even the cleanest deliveries end up hurt sometimes. He doesn’t have a power fastball but he controls it well enough at a legitimate big league velocity that it plays up and sets up his secondary pitches.

Thoughts

Winn probably has the most upside of any player mentioned so far. With the potential for three plus pitches and legitimate control, Winn probably has front line starter upside if he can carry his success this spring into professional ball.

If the helium around Winn is to be believed, I’m not sure he will be available at 20 for the Twins. If he is, he ought to be snatched up.

The story so far

This early in draft season media types are still trying to figure out how teams value individual prospects. They still don’t have a specific idea of what individual teams are trying to focus on in the draft. With that said, there has been a range of potential strategies listed for the Twins.

Keith Law believes the Twins are casting a wide net with their scouting and will pick whoever they think is the best available prospect. Jim Callis has noted the Twins are intrigued by a number of high school pitchers, whereas Jonathon Mayo believes the Twins are leaning towards college pitchers or high school athletes.

Highly rated prep pitchers often fall a bit (like Blayne Enlow last year) and I could see Weatherly falling and taking an over slot deal in the late first or second round. Winn could easily be taken before the 20th pick with all of the helium he has garnered. The college arms, Kowar and Gilbert, at this point are likely to go between the 15th and 25th picks, meaning they are legitimate possibilities. As for Turang, he would add legitimate depth for the Twins up the middle, but I think he will fall and sign over slot at the end of the first or end up going to college to boost his stock for 2021.

It is still early in the draft season and there are probably twenty prospects who could legitimately go to the Twins at pick 20, but these are the names attached to the Twins so far.

What do you think of these potential draftees?