Guest Blogger: Jeremy Nygaard
A Look at the 2011 Twins Draft
If ever anyone would like to write something up for me to post on my site, Tonight, Long-time reader Jeremy Nygaard let me use an article that he wrote that he is not able to use. It’s tremendous information for those of you interested in draft coverage. So, thank you to Jeremy, and Enjoy!
ManCenter.com’s 2011 Draft Preview – Minnesota Twins
(ManCenter.com – making its world-wide debut 8/1/11)
By Jeremy Nygaard
The Twins own draft pick #30 in the first round and picks #50 and #55 in the sandwich round.
This will be scouting director Deron Johnson’s 4th draft since taking it over in 2008. Since that time there has been a definite pattern that the Twins have followed when making their early selections: Most prominently, college pitchers who command their pitches and secondly, athletic hitters that project to have many tools. Generally, the guys they’ve taken have been considered very “signable” and the team has often been quick to come to terms with their picks and get them into the minor league system.
The one notable exception is SP Kyle Gibson, who was projected to be a top-10 pick before coming down with a forearm injury. Gibson signed at the deadline for a bonus above slot… a rarity for Twins draft picks.
A quick look at Johnson’s top 3 picks each year since taking over the draft:
2008: Aaron Hicks, OF, 14th overall pick who signed for $1.78m (slot: $1.78m). Many teams liked Hicks as a pitcher, but the Twins were convinced his other tools (especially his power as a switch-hitter) would play. Some consider him to be the Twins best prospect.
2008: Carlos Gutierrez, P, 27th overall pick who signed for $1.29m (slot: $1.29m). A surprise selection who is best known for his sinking fastball. He has moved between the rotation and bullpen, but projects best a power set-up man.
2008: Shooter Hunt, P, 31st overall pick who signed for $1.08m (slot: $1.08m). An outlier to pattern. The knock on Hunt in college was his lack of command. It has shown while a pro as Hunt has had a hard time throwing it over the plate and, from all indications, has faded as a prospect.
2009: Kyle Gibson, P, 22nd overall pick who signed for $1.85m (slot: $1.287m). Gibson signed for top-10 money in the last hour before the deadline and the Twins couldn’t be happier. Easily considered the best pitching prospect in the system, Gibson is poised to join the starting rotation soon.
2009: Matt Bashore, LHP, 46th overall pick who signed for $751,500 (slot: $751,500). Bashore drew comparisons to current Twin Glen Perkins after he was drafted out of Indiana. Shortly after signing in 2009, Bashore was shut down to have his elbow cleaned up and then had Tommy John surgery causing him to miss all of 2010.
2009: Billy Bullock, P, 70th overall pick who signed for $522,000 (slot: $522,000). Bullock was one of the few “power”
arms in the system before being traded in a questionable deal to the Braves to keep the rights to P Scott Diamond. Since the trade though (and even before), Bullock has struggled with his control.
2010: Alex Wimmers, P, 21st overall pick who signed for $1.332m (slot: $1.332). Wimmers was touted as a strike-throwing-middle-of-the-rotation-pitcher who would move quickly through the system and slide in nicely somewhere behind Kyle Gibson. Wimmers, however, has yet to record an out this year and has turned from near-sure-thing into the biggest question-mark in the organization.
2010: Niko Goodrum, ATH, 71st overall pick who signed for $514,800 (slot: $514,800). Goodrum profiles almost as a
rawer version of Aaron Hicks. Although, it’s clear that Hicks’s future is in CF or RF, the jury is still out on Goodrum. It is most likely that Goodrum will get much bigger and end up at 3B or possibly an OF corner.
2010: Pat Dean, LHP, 102nd overall pick who signed for $319,500 (slot: $319,500). It should come as no surprise that the Twins popped a college pitcher whose comp is Glen Perkins. He commands a four-pitch mix and has polish.
What does that mean for this year?
Well, the baseball draft is harder to project than any other major league draft, but given the Twins history, I’m going to give you ten names that I believe may end up drafted by the Twins.
In an order based on both probability and personal preference:
Tyler Anderson, LHP, Oregon; The Twins liked Anderson coming out of HS in 2008 and drafted him in the 50th round. It would be hard to believe that they aren’t interested again. Anderson fits the Twins mold as a pitcher with great command and a great feel for pitching. (Could be a Twin if… he’s still on the board and the Twins want to continue their run of college pitchers in Round 1.)
Brandon Nimmo, OF, Wyoming HS; Nimmo’s high school doesn’t have baseball, so the fact that he’s getting first round mentions is quite an achievement. He’s committed to Arkansas, and he’s been dealing with nagging injuries, so there is some belief he might be a tough-sign. (Could be a Twin if… they are looking to add an athlete – think taller version of Joe Benson – to the stable. The lack of willingness to go over-slot could prevent this from happening.)
Trevor Story, SS, Texas HS; Everybody is aware how the middle-infield cupboard is brutally empty. Story projects as a HS SS that can stick and is considered signable if he goes in the first round. (Could be a Twin if… they deviate from what they’ve done in the past and draft for need. The last HS SS the Twins drafted in the first round – Trevor Plouffe – hasn’t worked out as well as hoped.)
Kolten Wong, 2B, Hawaii; Another player with a Twins connection. Wong was drafted by them in the 16th round in 2008. Ultimately, Wong went the college route and has improved his status as a prospect. Wong plays solid defense at 2B and is an above-average hitter despite his (lack of) size. He’s been compared to players from Dustin Pedroia to Chone Figgins. (Could be a Twin if… he’s still on the board and the Twins don’t want to continue their run of college pitchers in Round 1. I’ve heard the Rays like Wong and they have all sorts of picks.)
Jackie Bradley, OF, South Carolina; Bradley was considered one of the top college hitters coming into this year but a wrist injury has him dropping quickly down draft boards. Bradley has all the tools and fits the profile the Twins seek in a hitter. (Could be a Twin if… he falls out of the first round and into the sandwich round. I don’t believe the Twins take him at #30, but he would be a steal – even though they’d have to pay overslot – at #50.)
Brian Goodwin, OF, Miami-Dade JC; Goodwin is draft-eligible a year earlier than expected after being kicked off the UNC baseball team. That should be enough to turn some teams off, but he has the raw tools the Twins look for and is a possibility because of it. (Could be a Twin if… he takes a drop into the #50s. He has leverage in that he could go through the draft process two more times if he elects to not sign.)
Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Florida State; A guy that knows how to pitch and is considered a safe pick and easy sign. (Of course, Wimmers was a “safe” pick and how did that turn out?) . (Could be a Twin if… they want him. He makes sense at any of their top three choices, especially the sandwich round.)
Johnny Eierman, OF, Missouri HS; Another guy who profiles like someone the Twins would like. Speed may be his only tool that really stands out, but he’s a good athlete with a high-ceiling. (Could be a Twin if… they feel like they can go over slot in the sandwich round and sign a guy that is very projectable.)
Gabriel Rosa, OF, Puerto Rico HS; The Twins have drafted the top-rated hitter out of Puerto Rico in the last three drafts (Angel Morales, Danny Ortiz and Eddie Rosario), so there is no reason to believe it won’t happen again. Rosa doesn’t project to have the tools or ceiling of the other three, but could be a fit in LF. (Could be a Twin if… They feel like continuing their trend in Round 4.)
Blake Swihart, C, New Mexico HS; Swihart is the highest-profile prospect on this list and compares similarly to Royals prospect Wil Myers, who was moved from C to the OF this year, and was a tough sign in 2009. Myers slid to the 3rd round and got a $2m signing bonus. (Could be a Twin if… he drops and the talent-starved organization wants to pony up for a very talented prospect.)
The Ideal Draft:
The Twins need to fill holes in the middle of the infield, add quality arms and high-ceiling athletes. If the Twins could get Story or Wong at #30 and pay them slot, that would be a great way to start the draft. It would get even better if they were able to add Gilmartin in the sandwich round along with an athlete like Eierman or Goodwin. If Swihart were still on the board at #50 (which he shouldn’t be), the Twins need to nab him and add their athletic OF (Rosa) in Round 4. Expect the Twins to add a defensive catcher somewhere in the top 10 rounds and don’t be surprised if the Twins re-draft unsigned 2008 11th rounder Ronnie Richardson, an OF from Central Florida, who they felt could play SS. Richardson could be a Ben Revere-type catalyst. As always, the Twins will protect their backyard with a handful of local guys (U of MN P T.J. Oakes and Kansas OF Jason Brunansky, son of former Twin and AA hitting coach Tom Brunansky, are a couple of possibilities.)
Feel free to add your thoughts or Comments here.
Follow Jeremy on Twitter @jeremynygaard
Questions or comments, email email@example.com