The MLB Draft is a fickle thing. There are seldom—if ever—surefire guarantees. In fact, fewer than 67% of first-round picks ever make it to The Show. When you look at rounds 12–20, the percentage slips to just under 10%.
Some players pan out. Some flame out before reaching the bigs. And all teams, of course, deal with their own issues when trying to land the next big thing. Over the years, the Minnesota Twins have missed out on their fair share of top-tier talent.
So, without further ado, here’s a look at some notable players the Twins drafted but were unable to sign. In other words, here are the ghosts of what might have been.
Steve Garvey, 1B (Career stats: 2,599 hits/272 HR/1,308 RBI/.294 AVG) The Twins selected Garvey in the third round of the 1966 MLB Amateur Draft. However, Garvey passed on the offer in favor of attending college. Two years later, the Dodgers drafted him with the 13th overall pick. Appearing in eight straight all-star games, garnering four consecutive Gold Gloves and winning an MVP award, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better first baseman during the mid ’70s to early ’80s.
Mark Grace, 1B (Career stats: 2,445 hits/173 HR/1,146 RBI/.303 AVG) The Twins drafted Grace in the 15th round of the 1984 MLB Draft. Instead of signing with the Twinkies, Amazing Grace transferred from Saddleback Community College to San Diego State. In 1985, the Cubbies landed him in the 24th round. The sweet-swinging lefty went on to play for 16 seasons making three all-star appearances and racking up four Gold Gloves along the way.
Jason Varitek, C (Career stats: 1,307 hits/193 HR/757 RBI/.256 AVG) Much has been said about Varitek’s storied holdouts (with both the Twins and Mariners) and, sure, the career numbers may look a little soft. But had the Twins successfully signed Varitek in the 1993 MLB June Amateur Draft, he certainly would’ve provided an excellent stopgap until Joe Mauer’s arrival. Plus, he did this.
George Springer, OF (Career stats: 642 hits/121 HR/330 RBI/.265 AVG) Taken in the 48th round of the 2008 MLB June Amateur Draft, Springer ultimately hit the books at the University of Connecticut rather than hit bombs for the Minnesota Twins. The Astros selected him with the 11th pick in the 2011 draft, and he’s averaged a not-too-shabby 110 runs scored, 28 home runs, and 79 runs batted in per season since 2016. He’s ridiculously clutch come postseason play, too.
J.D. Martinez, OF (Career stats: 993 hits/195 HR/606 RBI/.292 AVG) Another Amateur Draft casualty for our beloved ball club. In 2006, Martinez and Minnesota couldn’t reach a deal, prompting the slugger now known as Flaco to enroll at Nova Southeastern University. The Astros nabbed him in the 20th round of the 2009 MLB and, although it took Martinez a few years to figure out his swing, he’s become one of the game’s greatest offensive threats.
Honorable Mentions: Jay Bell, SS/2B—Career WAR: 37.2; Jesse Orosco, RP—Career WAR: 23.2; Bret Boone*—Career WAR: 22.8; J.J. Putz, RP—Career WAR: 13.1
*Boone would have the last laugh as he hit .170 and racked up an anemic -1.1 WAR in 14 games with the Minnesota Twins in 2005.