Thursday, June 5, 2008
and Drafty Thoughts
Good Morning! Happy Draft Day! It's been busy here at SethSpeaks.net. Yesterday I finished off my top 50 Twins prospects. list with the Top 10 as well as posting my May Hitter and Pitcher of the Month. It is fun to think about minor leaguers and if and how and when they will be able to help the Twins. Of those on my Top 50, 34 of them were drafted by the Twins. Eight of them were International signings. Seven were acquired via trade. One was a non-drafted free agents. If we look at the current Twins roster (active and Disabled List), eleven were drafted by the Twins, eight were acquired via trade, six were signed as free agents, two were signed as minor league free agents, one was an international signing by the Twins.
Today is the first day of the 2008 Major League First-Year Players Draft. ESPN will again be televising the first round, and I believe the supplemental picks, so if you get a chance to, be sure to watch that. I think that this is a good day to take a look at the Twins system and determine where the organization has its biggest needs. Finally, I will give some of my theories on the draft. I believe that Mike Radcliff, along with Deron Johnson, is still in charge of the draft, although I am sure that he is working closely with Jim Rantz, Bill Smith, Terry Ryan and all of the scouts in the system. Those decision makers have been meeting for over a week to make their draft boards. I wish I could be a fly on the wall during those meetings and in the draft room with them, watching them review all of the names on their board and listening to the determining factors in terms of who they will select each round. The Twins have the 14th pick in the first round. They also get the Angels first round pick (the 27th pick) and the first supplemental first round pick (the 31st pick) for losing Torii Hunter. In other words, watching on ESPN should be entertaining for Twins fans as they will have three picks in the top 31 overall. That certainly gives them an opportunity to restock the system.
So today, I am going to look at the players in the organization by position (NOTE - I won't include players at Extended Spring Training, although it is important to remember that some could certainly potentially be good , and discuss the needs.
|Twins||Joe Mauer, Mike Redmond|
|Rochester||Jose Morales, Ryan Jorgensen|
|New Britain||Drew Butera, Jeff Christy|
|Ft. Myers||Wilson Ramos, Allan de San Miguel, Rodolfo Palacios|
|Beloit||Greg Yersich, Danny Lehmann, Jair Fernandez|
Twins fans have to hope that Joe Mauer will be healthy throughout the remaining three years of his four year contract and then remain with the team for the next dozen years after that. Mike Redmond will be around through the 2008 season, maybe longer as the Twins do have an option for 2009. So the main thing here is to have a catcher who will be primarily a backup to Joe Mauer, maybe as early as 2009, but then for years to come. It would be nice to have a guy who can catch and throw, but being able to put together good at bats is also an important trait. Morales has a good bat. I have heard that the Twins are very high on the catch-and-throw abilities of Drew Butera, Jeff Christy, Allan de San Miguel and Danny Lehmann. Wilson Ramos and possibly Jair Fernandez are two that could potentially be solid primary catchers, in time. Finally, Danny Rams is in Extended Spring Training, waiting to head out to Elizabethton later this month.
Seth Draft Strategy - I certainly wouldn't want to spend a whole lot of money on a guy that you hope will be a backup in 3-4 year. I wouldn't use a Top 5 round pick on a catcher, but I would probably take a college guy in the 6-10 range as they did last year with Lehmann. Then I would take two or three more in the later rounds, younger guys with upside who can play in the GCL.
|Rochester||Garrett Jones, Randy Ruiz,|
|New Britain||Brock Peterson, Erik Lis|
|Ft. Myers||Whit Robbins, (Johnny Woodard)|
The Twins made the commitment to Justin Morneau to keep him around for six years, through the 2013 season. So again, hopefully we would be looking for a backup option out of this group. It is always important to note, for any position, that the Twins will be in need of a DH and pinch hitting options as well. I think that Peterson and Lis could be future DHs for the Twins. Chris Parmelee is a long ways off, but he still has a lot of power potential and is very young. I think Jon Waltenbury would fit into that category as well.
Seth's Draft Strategy - First base is an offensive position. Although the AAA 1B situation is weak, this is a position with some quality prospects with some upside. However, if there are guys that they believe will be able to hit for power, they should draft them when they are available and make sense. I would not draft a college 1B early in the draft. Like with the catcher, I would probably draft one in the 6-10 round range. Now, if there is a high school first baseman with power that they feel has tremendous upside, then I have no problem with drafting that guy.
|Twins||Alexi Casilla, Matt Tolbert|
|New Britain||Steve Tolleson, Felix Molina|
|Ft. Myers||Brian Dinkelman, Yangervis Solarte (heading to E-Town)|
Alexi Casilla, after so many gave up on his last year and even with his poor start in Rochester this year. I do believe that Casilla has turned a corner. He is now playing with confidence, and I do believe that 2B is his best position. In other words, I think that he can be the regular there for the next half-decade. Matt Tolbert will be the Twins utility infielder for a long time as Gardy really likes him. Steve Tolleson is proving to be a legit prospect. Brian Dinkelman is ready to move up to AA. Steve Singleton is ready to move up to Ft. Myers. Right now, it appears that the Twins have their 2B of the foreseeable future plus two or three other guys developing, needing just one of them to take a large step to become a quality option.
Seth's Draft Strategy - I probably wouldn't draft a high school 2B unless he was just an incredibly great hitter. The reason? I would have to wonder, if he is so good, why he isn't playing SS. Bad arm? No range? Non-athletic? College 2B should also be very good hitters although at that level, there will be other guys who can play SS, so it isn't quite so bad. See the SS strategy for more.
|Twins||Mike Lamb, Matt Macri|
|New Britain||Luke Hughes, Toby Gardenhire|
|Ft. Myers||Danny Valencia, Danny Berg|
|Beloit||Deibinson Romero, Garrett Olson|
I have had more people tell me that the Twins need to draft a college 3B who can come up to the Twins quickly. I know that Mike Lamb started poorly in April, but he had a good May and is playing well. He also is signed through 2009, plus a team option for 2010. If he is hurt, I would feel comfortable with a Matt Macri/Brian Buscher platoon. In fact, I would feel comfortable with a Mike Lamb/Matt Macri platoon today. Luke Hughes has taken another big step forward in 2008, showing he can hit for average and power. Danny Valencia must move up to New Britain. I think that he is the Twins 3B of the future. Deibenson Romero is another guy who has been dubbed 3B of the future, but he had to have knee surgery this spring and has not played for a month. In other words, I actually think that 3B is a position with some quality prospects for the future, and they are set up for the next two years as well. I actually see this almost as a position of strength.
Seth's Draft Strategy - Again, I don't see this as a big organizational need now or in the forseeable future. In my mind, they don't need to take a 3B just to take one. If a guy like Conor Gillaspie is available and the top guy on their list, I have no problem with them taking him. But I would not take him just to fill a need. If Brett Lawrie is available, I would not mind taking him. He's coming out of high school and his ceiling is so high. That is the type of 3B that I would definitely consider drafting if he is available.
|Twins||Adam Everett, Brendan Harris, Nick Punto|
|Rochester||Sergio Santos, Chris Basak|
|New Britain||Trevor Plouffe|
|Ft. Myers||Yancarlos Ortiz (Paul Kelly)|
|Beloit||Ramon Santana (Estarlin de los Santos), Chris Cates|
With Jason Bartlett gone, SS is certainly a weak position for the Twins. Everett is hurt and maybe that's why he has been so bad when he has played. Harris is solid. Punto is... Punto. There is no one at Rochester to get excited about. I think Trevor Plouffe is the shortstop of the future, but I certainly don't think he is a sure thing. The other shortstops in the system are all adequate at their level. Paul Kelly is a guy with huge upside, but his knee injury has cost him most of the last two years, so he will need time. I am looking forward to seeing Nick Papasan play in Elizabethton because I do think he has upside. Same thing with Reggie Williams, whether he plays in the GCL or E-Town.
Seth's Draft Strategy - I would draft a bunch of shortstops! A whole bunch Why? First, because it is totally an organizational need throughout the system. But also, shortstops are generally great athletes and if you have a bunch of them, you create competition and if they need to, they have the athleticism in many cases to adjust to 2B or 3B, or even the OF. If a shortstop is long and lanky and grows and adds power, there is a natural move to 3B. This is especially true of high school shortstops. College shortstops have three or four more years of experience, so you have a little better clue of what they might be able to do. This is the position I would most focus on with both high school and college choices.
|Twins||Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez, Craig Monroe|
|Rochester||Garrett Jones, Darnell McDonald, Jason Pridie, Tommy Watkins (Denard Span)|
|New Britain||Brandon Roberts, Dustin Martin, Erik Lis, Matt Moses, David Winfree|
|Ft. Myers||Edward Ovalle, Eli Tintor, Danny Santiesteban, (Rene Tosoni)|
|Beloit||Chris Parmalee, Joe Benson, Ben Revere, Mark Dolenc, Ozzie Lewis|
Michael Cuddyer is signed through the 2010 season, with one more option year beyond that. Delmon Young will be around for a long time. Carlos Gomez will be around for no less than four years, and hopefully much longer. I have included Jason Kubel with the outfielders because I don't have a DH category. There are your three outfielders and DH for at least the next three years. Denard Span and Jason Pridie are guys that will do fine as fourth or fifth outfielders in that time. Erik Lis and David Winfree are really more DH options than OF options. The high potential outfielders are definitely the big three in Beloit, Revere, Benson and Parmelee. Also, 2007 3rd round pick Angel Morales is very exciting.
Seth's Draft Strategy - Because of the current Twins full outfield, I would tend to draft only high upside, high school outfielders. Aaron Hicks is a guy whose name keeps coming up. Sure you need to fill out your rookie league rosters and if there is a guy at the top of the list that projects well, of course you take him. But again, this is not a position that the Twins need to address for need in the short term.
|Twins||Livan Hernandez, Nick Blackburn, Glen Perkins, Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker|
|Rochester||Brian Duensing, Kevin Mulvey, Philip Humber, Danny Graves, Francisco Liriano|
|New Britain||Ryan Mullins, Anthony Swarzak, Errol Simonitsch, Oswaldo Sosa, Jay Rainville, (Yohan Pino), (Kyle Waldrop),|
|Ft. Myers||Jeff Manship, Cole DeVries, Tyler Robertson, Deolis Guerra, Alex Burnett|
|Beloit||David Bromberg, Brian Kirwan, Matt Tarsi, Santos Arias, Dan Berlind, Mike McCardell|
The Twins are finally going with a young rotation, well, other than Livan who will likely be gone in less than two months. There are four starters there under the age of 26. And, consider that Francisco Liriano certainly will be a big league pitcher again in the near future. Brian Duensing and Kevin Mulvey, Anthony Swarzak and Jeff Manship, these are starters that could be ready within the next year if needed. And Tyler Robertson and Deolis Guerra are both very young, but they have the highest upside of anyone on the list not named Liriano. The Twins always have solid pitching prospects and a strong pipeline that just keeps producing quality major league starters.
Seth's Draft Strategy - There is no such thing as too much pitching. Depth is a very positive thing. And also, the organization's philosophy is that if you have pitching, you will always have a chance, and that is hard to dispute. Basically, I probably prefer that the Twins focus on bats, but if the best player available is a pitcher, then get the pitcher. College or high school. Get the pitcher with the highest upside. Of the top 12 picks, I would have no problem if five or six of them were pitchers. Never too many pitchers.
|Twins||Joe Nathan, Juan Rincon, (Pat Neshek), Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Dennys Reyes, Brian Bass, Boof Bonser, Craig Breslow|
|Rochester||Bobby Korecky, Ricky Barrett, Julio DePaula, Casey Daigle, Tim Lahey, Mariano Gomez, Heath Totten,|
|New Britain||Ben Julianel, Zach Ward, Jay Sawatski, Kyle Aselton, Armando Gabino, Jason Miller,|
|Ft. Myers||Rob Delaney, Anthony Slama, Danny Vais, Matt Fox, Blair Erickson, Frank Mata, Jose Lugo, (David Shinskie),|
|Beloit||Matt Williams, Spencer Steedley, Steve Hirschfeld, Loek Van Mil, Charles Nolte, Brad Tippett, Danny Hernandez|
The Twins bullpen is really down this year. It is amazing how the loss of Pat Neshek, that 8th inning certainty before Joe Nathan, really is having a profound affect on the team. Don't get me wrong, the bullpen is still solid. Reyes has been OK. Crain has struggled, but he is a year after his shoulder surgery and he is certainly in the Twins plans. Brian Bass and Boof Bonser are two guys that are kind of at the crossroads. The Twins seem to always have very good relievers throughout their system. The Ft. Myers and Beloit bullpens are terrific and there are several guys in EST that are good too. It's also important to note that most big league relievers are failed starters (or at least starters without opportunity).
Seth's Draft Strategy - Unless you're talking about Jesse Crain or Pat Neshek, I probably wouldn't draft a reliever too often. The Twins took Blair Erickson and Danny Rondon last year in the Top 10-12 picks. Unless you're going to rush them up the system, I don't think that makes a lot of sense. Remember that the Twins drafted Anthony Slama in the 39th round a couple of years ago. They also were able to sign Rob Delaney and Steve Hamburger as free agents. So, I don't think I would ever intentionally draft a relief pitcher.
So, there you have a very quick overview of the Twins organization. What does it show us? Starting Pitching and the bullpen are positions of strength throughout. I was a little surprised that 3B is a strong position, and second base has a couple of very solid prospects in the mid-levels. The Twins Outfield is set for the next three to six years. Catcher is a position of potential need if anything were to keep Mauer out of the lineup for an extended period of time. But Wilson Ramos certainly provides hope of a solid backup option down the road. In my mind, the biggest position of need is Shortstop. You saw my Top 50 prospects lists and know which guys I see as high ceiling, and which guys I see as being good role players.
So, my overall draft strategy? Well, it is probably very similar to that of the Twins In my opinion, I just think that you take the best guy available for at least the first eight to twelve rounds. If you're stuck between two players, then you look at your organizational depth chart and see where your greater need is. After the 10th or 12th round, I would consider taking several shortstops. I would take some college pitching, including several junior college types. I would take a couple of catchers. And, I would take a few of outfielders. The infielders can move around for a year or two as they develop. The outfielders can do the same thing. They will weed themselves out.
I think it is also important to remember that the 2005 draft was not 'normal.' So many from that draft are already up in the big leagues whether they were drafted out of high school or college. The Big Three 3B (Ryan Braun, Alex Gordon and Ryan Zimmerman) have panned out. Those high school outfielders (Justin Upton, Jay Bruce and soon-to-be-up Cameron Maybin and Andrew McCutcheon) and college outfielders like Jacoby Ellsbury. Matt Garza and Kevin Slowey have already made it and Brian Duensing is doing well in AAA. That 2005 draft was an exception, and even some of those guy that are close to coming up, have now spent three years in the minor leagues. So, expecting short-term solutions is simply not fair at all. The Twins draft 14th, 27th and 31st, and although they can get some high level talent with all three of those picks, the guys that are ready within a year or so are generally taken within the first five or so picks.
College players are generally closer to the big leagues from when they are drafted, but if you look at the Twins lineup, it is interesting. Who would you consider the top Twins hitters? Well, Joe Mauer was drafted out of high school. Justin Morneau was drafted out of high school. Michael Cuddyer? Drafted out of high school. Jason Kubel, drafted out of high school. Carlos Gomez? Well, he was signed as a free agent from the Dominican Republic as a 16 year old. So, I know we tend to be a bit frustrated, but with high school draft picks, you have to be patient.
In the end, the draft is a crap shoot of sorts. But, I think that the Twins have done a nice job in the mid-rounds picking up some sleeper types. Jason Kubel and David Winfree were taken in the 12th and 13th rounds. In 2006, Jeff Manship was taken in the 14th round and Danny Valencia was taken in the 19th round. Anthony Slama was a 39th round pick that year. People thought that the Twins reached for Ben Revere and look at what he has done to start out his career. In reality, we will not know how well the Twins drafted in 2008 until at least 2014, so don't make too much out of it no matter what.
In reality, the Twins will likely go through who they draft, and they will determine how many they want to sign. The last three years, they have signed everyone that they wanted to with just one exception (. Another thing to remember is that the draft-and-follow process will no longer be available to teams or their players. That may affect the later rounds. The Twins did a lot of that, but now they won't be able to.
SOME NAMES TO WATCH
Brad Hand - I have to start with the local guy, right? Hand is a left handed pitcher from Minnesota's Chaska high school. He has been clocked as high as 94 mph and has an above average curveball already. He's still a thrower, rather than a pitcher though, so he has room for improvement. I think if he is there when the Twins take their 2nd round pick, they will seriously consider him.
Anthony Hewitt - In a mock draft I participated in last weekend, I used the Twins choice at #31 to take Hewiitt. He is definitely toolsy, but he projects to have great power. Scouts don't think he'll be able to stay at SS, so a move to the outfield might be in his future. Could be a tough sign as he has committed to Vanderbilt. But again, he is the type of player that the Twins like to draft.
Brett DeVall - Jonathan Mayo really likes this guy and has projected the Twins to use the choice at #27 to pick him. He is also a left handed high school pitcher. Hits 91 with the fastball, already has a good changeup and an OK curveball that projects to be above average. Being from Florida, he plays against some high competition.
Christian Freidrich - left handed start from Eastern Kentucky, Mayo projects the Twins to take him with the #14 pick. He's got a good fastball, a cutter, a slow curveball and is working on a changeup. Control is not where the Twins would probably want it for a college pitcher.
Aaron Hicks - I think the Twins would love for Hicks to fall to them at #14, but expert predictions have the A's taking the very toolsy outfielder at #12. Natural outfielder, very fast, strong arm, incredible athleticism, gap power now, big power potential. He sounds like a guy any team would want, but he may not be around.
Brett Lawrie - we all heard that the Twins had Lawrie into the Metrodome to work him out while the Yankees were in town. The Canadian catcher may still be around when the Twins pick. The Twins drafted another Canadian catcher several years ago and moved him to 1B. He turned out alright. This guy has tremendous power, although he is still very raw.
Ethan Martin - A high school pitcher from Georgia, he throws up to 96 mph. He was clocked at 94 in the 7th inning of an outing. He has three pitches and has above average control. Sounds like the kind of guy you take a shot on.
Conor Gilaspie - a 3B from Wichita State University, I drafted him with the Twins #27 pick in our mock draft. He can hit and has a solid glove. However, he doesn't hit for a lot of power nor does he project to do so.
Jemile Weeks - a 2B from the University of Miami, Weeks is the younger brother of the Brewers' Rickie Weeks. He doesn't have as much power, probably not as much speed, but he has shown an ability to be a good leadoff type of hitter. There are some concerns about his defense so he may have to leave 2B.
Yonder Alsonso - He certainly won't be around when the Twins pick with their 14th pick in the first round, but I have to mention him because the Twins used a late-round pick to draft him three years ago, but instead, he went on to become an All-American in college, and a certain top ten pick.
Destin Hood - another high ceiling toolsy outfielder. HE has shown very good power, but he has had problems making contact. That is one of the things that the Twins have talked about trying to improve with some of those Beloit guys, so he might be a guy that they would take in the third or fourth rounds. .
Seth's Guesses - Here is just a projection of the Twins picks to give something to look at after the picks:
#14 - Aaron Hicks, if available... Second choice - Christian Friedrich
#27 - Anthony Hewitt, if they feel he will sign - If not, Jemile Weeks or Reese Havens
#31 - Destin Hood, if available -
2nd round pick - Brad Hand
If you were the Twins Director of Scouting, Mike Radcliff, what would your philosophy be going into the draft? Feel free to share your thoughts on that, or on my thoughts on the Twins organization.
Twins Thoughts (Twins 7, Orioles 5)
It was a rough outing for Glen Perkins, but Boof Bonser came in to save the day with an excellent appearance out of the bullpen. Good for him. He just went after hitters. HE was aggressive and looked more relaxed. The bullpen together combined for five shutout innings.
How about Joe Mauer... 2-3 with a two-RBI sacrifice fly to deep centerfield and his second home run of the year, and of the week! He's now at .330 and he's now turning on some pitches. That is a scary combination.
Jason Kubel also added a couple of hits, including a two-run triple.
The two teams will play again at noon this afternoon with Scott Baker returning to the mound to take on Garrett Olson (not the Beloit 3B!)
Minor League Updates
Here are the Twins updates from last night, including game reports of their minor league affiliates.
Wednesday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Brock Peterson, New Britain Rockcats
Wednesday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Brian Duensing, Rochester Red Wings
Wednesday - Red Wings 7, Buffalo 8 (10 innings) – Brian Duensing was terrific in this game. He went eight shutout innings. He gave up just four hits and no walks. He left the game with a 6-0. Bobby Korecky came in to start the 9th inning. He didn't get anyone out and gave up four runs on three hits and a walk. Tim Lahey came in and finished the ninth, but he gave up two more runs on three hits. He did record strikeouts for all three outs though. The Red Wings got a run in the top of the 10th, but Mariano Gomez, Casey Daigle and finally Carmen Cali gave up two runs without recoding an out. Randy Ruiz went 2-3 with a walk, his fifth homer and three RBI. Howie Clark went 3-5. Garrett Jones was 2-4 with his 16th double and sixth homer. Darnell McDonald hit his 8th homer, and Jason Pridie hit his third.
Wednesday - Rockcats 7, Altoona 10 – The Rockcats held a big lead going into the 8th inning, but the bullpen squandered it as well. Anthony Swarzak started and went six innings. He gave up three runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out just two. Kyle Aselton walked two, but gave up no runs in the seventh. Then sure-thing Zach Ward came in to start the eighth inning and gave up five runs on four hits and a walk in 0.2 innings. (jumped his ERA up to 2.29 on the season) Ben Julianel gave up three more hits and two more runs before getting that final out. Brock Peterson went 3-5 with three triples. He has 19 on the year. Erik Lis went 3-5 with his 21st double. Drew Butera was 2-4 with his sixth double. Steve Tolleson was 2-5 with his 15th double.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Wednesday - Miracle 2, Dunedin 7 – Another rough start for Deolis Guerra. He gave up seven runs (5 earned) on five hits and three walks in just 1.2 innings. Matt Fox came in and gave up three hits over 3.1 scoreless innings. Jose Lugo went a shutout inning, followed by Blair Erickson, who threw two scoreless innings. Rob Delaney pitched a 1-2-3 ninth frame. Yangervis Solarte hit his second homer. Edward Ovalle went 2-4 with his eighth triple. Rodolfo Palacios went 2-4.
Wednesday - Snappers 6, Quad Cities 11 – Mike Tarsi gave up six runs (3 earned) on seven hits. Of course, the runs were unearned thanks to two errors by Tarsi himself. Loek Van Mil then gave p two runs on three hits and a walk in two innings. He struck out three. Charles Nolte then gave up three runs on four hits and a walk in his inning. Danny Hernandez came in and threw a perfect inning. Chris Cates went 2-4 with a walk. Mark Dolenc went 0-1 with three walks. Ben Revere did have a single and a walk. He also committed his fifth error already.
Do you have any further thoughts on any Twins prospects, minor leaguers, or these summaries? E-mail me, or also feel free to leave comments below.
That is it for today. Have a great Thursday!|