Thursday, June 7, 2007
and Drafty Thoughts
Good Morning! Thanks for all that responded to me regarding my top 50 Twins prospects. 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, 37 of them were drafted by the Twins. Seven of them were International signings. Three were acquired via trade. Three were non-drafted free agents. If we look at the current Twins roster (active and Disabled List), twelve were drafted by the Twins, nine were acquired via trade, eight were signed as free agents, two were international signings by the Twins and Alejandro Machado was a Rule V pick (I put Johan Santana under the via trade category).
Today is the first day of the 2007 Major League First-Year Players Draft. For the first time, you will be able to watch it this afternoon on ESPN. I may try to figure out when the Twins will pick and try to be home for that! I guess I thought this would be 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. Mike Radcliff is in charge of the draft, although I am sure that he is working closely with Jim Rantz, Terry Ryan and all of the great scouts in the system. I wish I could be 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 28th pick in the first round. They didn't lose any meaningful free agents last offseason, so they won't be getting any extra supplemental picks., but then they will select 28th in each of the 50 rounds over the next two or three days.
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 potentially good , and discuss the needs.
|Twins||Joe Mauer, Mike Redmond, Chris Heintz|
|Rochester||Jose Morales, Korey Feiner|
|New Britain||Kyle Geiger, Jeff Christy|
|Ft. Myers||Caleb Moore, Javier Sanchez|
|Beloit||Wilson Ramos, Allan de San Miguel, Greg Yersich|
Twins fans have to hope that Joe Mauer will be healthy throughout his four year contract and then remain with the team for the next dozen years. Mike Redmond will be around through the 2008 season, maybe longer. So the main thing here is to have a catcher who will be primarily a backup to Joe Mauer. It would be nice to have a guy who can catch and throw, but being able to put together good at bats is the key. Morales has a strong bat. I have heard that the Twins are very high on the catch-and-throw abilities of Korey Feiner. Jeff Christy, Caleb Moore and Javier Sanchez are all about the same, college guys with ceilings as backups.
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. Then I would take two or three more in the later rounds.
|Rochester||Garrett Jones, Matthew Lecroy, Ken Harvey|
|New Britain||Brock Peterson, David Winfree|
|Ft. Myers||Whit Robbins, Matt Betsill|
|Beloit||Johnny Woodard, Danny Berg|
The hope of all Twins fans would be for Justin Morneau to remain in a Twins uniform for the next decade. So again, hopefully we would be looking for a backup option out of this group. However, there are some solid bats in this group that could certainly fight for time at the DH position as well. I would venture to say that there is a chance that Garrett Jones, Brock Peterson, Whit Robbins and Johnny Woodard could get some time with the Twins because of their offensive/power potential. Obviously I think David Winfree will be a DH candidate for the Twins by sometime in 2008 already, but he should probably be in the 3B category.
Seth's Draft Strategy - First base is an offensive position. This is an organizational position of strength, but 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 know that right now the Henry Sanchez pick from 2005 is not looking too good, but a guy with that kind of potential should not be shied away from. High school or college.
|Twins||Luis Castillo, Luis Rodriguez|
|Rochester||Alexi Casilla, Tommy Watkins|
|New Britain||Felix Molina, Luke Hughes|
|Ft. Myers||Juan Portes, (Drew Thompson)|
Despite hitting almost .340 for the Twins in 2007, the assumption is that Castillo will not be back in 2008. Much of that decision depends on how major league ready Alexi Casilla is by the end of the year. Molina, Portes and Dinkelman can all hit. Drew Thompson needs to get healthy.
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||Nick Punto, Jeff Cirillo|
|Rochester||Matt Moses, Glenn Williams|
|New Britain||Brian Buscher, David Winfree|
|Ft. Myers||Toby Gardenhire, Juan Portes, Matt Betsill|
|Beloit||Danny Valencia, Garrett Olson|
Obviously the 3B situation with the Twins right now is a mess. Pretty much anyone would be better offensively than Punto (regardless of his HR yesterday) although he does do a very nice job defensively. Moses continues to struggle at the plate, something that he has consistently done throughout his minor league career. But I believe the Twins are still high on him. Winfree is the guy that I am high on. The Ft. Myers infield has a lot of utility players in it, although Juan Portes has played some 3B. Valencia is one of the better offensive prospects in the Twins system, and Garrett Olson has a lot of potential as well, although he is playing a lot of positions right now.
Seth's Draft Strategy - This position, at the big league level, needs to be fixed quickly. If there were an advanced college 3B who could be big league ready by 2008, that would be great. Someone like Evan Longoria or Ryan Zimmerman would be good. But at the 28th spot, that won't be available. We've heard that the Twins might be interested in a few high school 3B. I have no problem with that if they believe that the ceiling is high. Beyond that, I wouldn't mind seeing the Twins sign a solid college 3B in an early round, one who they feel could possibly start at Beloit right away because then Valencia could move up to Ft. Myers. If they don't do that, Valencia can still move up and Garrett Olson can play more 3B.
|Rochester||Matt Tolbert, Gil Velazquez|
|New Britain||Trevor Plouffe|
|Ft. Myers||Luis Ugueto, Steven Tolleson (Paul Kelly)|
|Beloit||Steve Singleton, Yancarlos Ortiz|
Jason Bartlett will likely be the shortstop for the next couple of years as long as he is productive with the bat and solid with the glove. It really is that simple. However, if he struggles this year, you may see some competition next spring with Bartlett, Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert. Tolbert is definitely making a name for himself. Trevor Plouffe is back to being a legit prospect and could be ready to compete in 2009. I'd really like to see Paul Kelly get back soon. He has been out for a long time, and he is a good prospect too. Those three have a chance to be solid every day types. The others likely are utility players at best.
Seth's Draft Strategy - Draft a bunch of shortstops! Why? 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. Some of those positional transfers have already happened.
Trivia/Contest - I counted ten current regular SS in the major leagues who were drafted out of four year college. I will send a Kevin Slowey Bowman rookie card to the first person to e-mail me the names of the nine starting shortstops in the big leagues who were drafted out of a four year college AND the colleges they attended. Note - to eliminate confusion, I will give you one. Ryan Theriot is currently the Cubs primary SS (although you could also argue it is Cesar Izturis which is why I am just giving it to you), and he went to LSU. Now you just have to name the nine others. Contest good until I have a winner, at which time I will post the nine answers.
|Twins||Jason Kubel, Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, Lew Ford, Jason Tyner, Josh Rabe|
|Rochester||Garrett Jones, Denard Span, Trent Oeltjen,|
|New Britain||Matt Allegra, Brandon Roberts, Garrett Guzman, Rashad Eldridge|
|Ft. Myers||Erik Lis, Dwayne White, Edward Ovalle, Eli Tintor|
|Beloit||Chris Parmalee, Danny Santiesteban, Joe Benson, Garrett Olson|
I think my hope would be that Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer would be the Twins corner outfielders for the next four or five years, or longer. The centerfield position is where the current questions lie. To bring back Torii or not, that is the question. Denard Span isn't close. Trent Oeltjen isn't ready. Again, it is important to remember that some of these guys could be DH candidates. I think Garrett Jones and Erik Lis are a couple examples of that. The highest ceiling in this group belongs to Chris Parmalee with Joe Benson not far behind, but those guys are a good three or four years from contributing to the Twins. There is some talent in this group, and there is some potential.
Seth's Draft Strategy - I think it would be wise for the Twins to continue to address their OF depth. There is some talent in this group. They did well last year with Parmalee and Benson. I wouldn't be afraid to draft a couple more high school outfielders early. I would like to see them draft OF with potential power.
|Twins||Johan Santana, Carlos Silva, Boof Bonser, Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker|
|Rochester||Matt Garza, Dave Gassner, Jeremy Cummings, Nick Blackburn, Brian Duensing|
|New Britain||Jesse Floyd, Brad Baker, Tristan Crawford, Kyle Waldrop, Ryan Mullins, (Anthony Swarzak), (Errol Simonitsch)|
|Ft. Myers||Oswaldo Sosa, Jay Rainville, Zach Ward, Yohan Pino, Josh Hill|
|Beloit||Jeff Manship, Alex Burnett, Adam Hawes, Cole DeVries, Brian Kirwan, Tyler Robertson|
Remember when the Rochester rotation was amazing. Well, Glen Perkins quickly moved up, then Scott Baker, then Kevin Slowey, and it likely won't be long before Matt Garza is up there too. So, right now the Rochester rotation isn't as strong. But, throughout the system, there are a lot of very good, very high ceiling pitchers. There should be a continual rush of potential starters getting big league ready.
Seth's Draft Strategy - There is no such thing as too much pitching. Depth is a very good 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, like in any draft, I probably prefer a bat, but if the best bat available could possibly be had a round a two later, then get the pitcher. College or high school. The four college guys from the 2005 draft are all doing great! The high school guys from the 2004 draft are all progressing (well, Swarzak was). Even look at that Beloit rotation. A couple of college guys, and a couple of highly touted high school guys. It's a good mix. Never too much pitching.
|Twins||Joe Nathan, Juan Rincon, Pat Neshek, Matt Guerrier, Carmen Cali, Jason Miller, (Jesse Crain), (Dennys Reyes), (Glen Perkins)|
|Rochester||Bobby Korecky, Ricky Barrett, Julio DePaula, Brian Bass, Jose Mijares|
|New Britain||Frank Mata, Danny Powers, Tim Lahey, Brian Forystek, Jay Sawatski, JP Martinez|
|Ft. Myers||Eddie Morlan, Angel Garcia, David Shinskie, Kyle Aselton, Armando Gabino, Alexander Smit|
|Beloit||Rob Delaney, Dan Leatherman, (Danny Hernandez), Jesus Carnevales, Aaron Craig, Danny Vais, Jose Lugo, Matt Fox, (Sean Land)|
The Twins bullpen remains incredible, even with the season ending injury to Jesse Crain and the loss of two lefties. Those first four names are incredible. There are a few other guys on this list that have a chance to make an impression at the big league level. Guys like DePaula, Mijares, Morlan, Smit and Gabino all have a legitimate shot at a big league career. The others will have to just keep working their way up the system and wait for their opportunity.
Seth's Draft Strategy - Unless you're talking about Jesse Crain or Pat Neshek, I probably wouldn't draft a reliever too often. Think about it, the Twins have been able to sign the likes of Robert Delaney and Dan Leatherman after they weren't drafted at all. Generally speaking, I think that the Twins like to have their best pitching prospects start as long as they can. Starters can move to the bullpen if their second and third pitches just don't' develop.
So, there you have a very quick overview of the Twins organization. What does it show us? First base and Starting Pitching are positions of strength. Although some of the other positions may not have a guy that is currently showing a high potential, there is enough depth that it would only take one of them to come up big to be successful. 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 Mike Radcliff's. In my opinion, I just think that you take the best guy available for at least the first six to eight 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 round, I would consider taking several shortstops. I would take some college pitching. I would take a couple of catchers. And, I would take a bunch 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.
Don't forget, especially for position players, it takes awhile for them to get to the big leagues. Look at the 3B drafted in the 2005 draft. Alex Gordon was taken with the second overall pick. Ryan Zimmerman was taken with the fourth pick. Ryan Braun was taken with the fifth pick. The Nationals brought Zimmerman up for a cup of coffee in August of 2005. He had an incredible, 100 RBI season as a rookie in 2006. Alex Gordon was held back by the Royals for fiscal reasons (I'm sure), but he started this season with the Royals. Ryan Braun was just called up in late May. Those are three guys that all made it to the big leagues faster than 'normal', and in Braun's case, it still took two years. Matt Garza took about 14 months to make it up. Kevin Slowey took almost exactly two years. Most high school players are drafted at age 17 or 18 and they don't get to the majors until they are 22, 23, 24 years old (if they get there at all). Joe Mauer was up within 2 1/2 years. Tommy Watkins has been in the Twins organization since 1998 without a cup of coffee. Brock Peterson was a 49th round draft pick out of high school, and he is hitting for power at AA. To summarize, players develop at different rates and in their own time, even if they are pushed.
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. Torii Hunter was drafted out of high school. Michael Cuddyer? Drafted out of high school. Jason Kubel, drafted out of high school. Luis Castillo? 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. Maybe there is hope for Denard Span and Matt Moses.
That said, the Twins 2005 draft also has to be considered. College pitchers Matt Garza, Kevin Slowey, Brian Duensing and Ryan Mullins were taken in the first three rounds. Meanwhile, with their other top three round picks, they took high school hitters Henry Sanchez, Paul Kelly and Drew Thompson, each of whom has been injured.
In the end, it 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. Last year, Jeff Manship was taken in the 14th round and Danny Valencia was taken in the 19th round.
In reality, the Twins will likely go through who they draft, and they will determine how many they want to sign. The last two years, they have signed everyone that they wanted to. 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.
I won't pretend to know a lot of the names available in the draft. I have heard that the Twins may have some interest in a high school 3B named Will Middlebrooks. I listened to Baseball Prospectus's Kevin Goldstein (who predicts that the Twins will take him in his Mock Draft) say that there isn't a lot of high-end talent in this draft, but there is a lot of depth. He said that the difference between who you could get a 25 is not much as compared to the 50th pick. For some great stuff on today's draft, I would encourage you to go to John Sickels' site. I will try to find out more information tomorrow on the guys that the Twins pick and post some thoughts if I can. Of course, Baseball America does a nice job with the draft as well, but some of their information is subscriber only.
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 8, Angels 5)
So, for just how bad the losses were on Monday and Tuesday, the win on Wednesday puts everything back into perspective. Despite a couple of ugly losses, the Twins got a game and were not swept. Had they been swept, they would have lost three games. 1-2 is much better than 0-3.
Congratulations to Kevin Slowey! He was credited with his first big league win. Although the numbers say that he was much better in his first start, when he got a no decision. Slowey gave up all five runs, although just four were earned runs. In five innings, he gave up ten hits. He walked none and struck out two. His home run to Howie Kendrick was hit hard, and Casey Kotchman hit the ball real hard a couple of times. But from watching the replay on FSN last night, most of the singles were not hit hard at all. In fact, Mike Napoli had two separate RBI singles, and neither swing was pretty and neither ball was hit hard, but they fell in and scored a run. Slowey didn't get a lot of extra help from his defense. Luis Castillo had his first error in 144 games on a very easy play that would have been the first out in the 1st inning. No runs scored after that. The high sky caused the sure-handed Nick Punto to drop a foul pop up and that did result in the unearned run.
All in all, it wasn't a bad start for Slowey, but again, it wasn't what he is capable of. If you look at the box scores, an argument could be made that Scott Baker's start on Tuesday night was better than Slowey's on Wednesday afternoon. But Slowey got run support and Baker didn't. Slowey got a win. Baker didn't. We know that Slowey will continue to improve and make adjustments by staying in the rotation. That is why I think that Baker needs a dozen or so starts so that he is allowed to make those same adjustments.
Nick Punto couldn't have picked a better time to hit his first home run. After not getting down a sacrifice bunt, he hit a three run homer to give the Twins a 5-4 lead in the fifth inning. It was great to hear Dick Bremer say something to the effect of "See? Who needs that small ball stuff. Just hit it over the fence." I know they were saying it sarcastically, but there is a lot of truth to that as well.
I was very happy to see Jason Bartlett get a hold of a ball and hit his first home run too.
Luis Castillo was 3-5 to raise his average to .339. Michael Cuddyer was 3-4 to raise his average up to .298.
The bullpen again came through in big style. The combination of Matt Guerrier, Carmen Cali, Pat Neshek and Joe Nathan combined for three no-hit innings. A great job again. Cali appeared for the second straight game in situations where he would face only lefties. Although he did walk Casey Kotchman, he retired the next batter, Garrett Anderson, on a double play to get out of the inning.
So, the Twins have a much needed day off today. Joe Mauer will likely be in the Twins lineup, batting second, on Friday night. I am very curious what the roster move will be to make space for Mauer. It is pretty clear that Chris Heintz will be kept around as insurance for Mauer, and to allow Redmond to be the DH. So, will it be Luis Rodriguez? Maybe Jason Tyner? Could they go to 11 pitchers and send Jason Miller back down? What do you think?
Friday night, the Twins will host the Washington Nationals. The Twins and their fans will welcome back Cristian Guzman, who is hitting .327 this year, and Tony Batista. Batista has been used as a pinch hitter. He has 19 at bats in 19 games. So... three games ago, he was hitting .188. He has had hits in his last three pinch hitting at bats, so his average is .316. The beauty of small sample size.
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 – Brian Buscher, New Britain Rockcats
Wednesday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – David Shinskie, Ft. Myers Miracle
Wednesday - Red Wings 4, Indianapolis 8 – Matt Tolbert is officially back. On this day, he went 5-5 with two doubles and two RBI. Glenn Williams went 2-4 with his seventh double. Matt Garza got the start and a no decision. Garza gave up four runs on five hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out six. Not a horrible line, but certainly not great either. Until you realize that he had 1-2-3 innings in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th innings. All of the damage was done in the first inning and then he settled in very nicely. Jose Mijares came in and pitched a scoreless seventh, but he faced three batters in the eighth and all three ended up scoring. Brian Bass gave up an unearned run in the inning as well.
Wednesday - Rockcats 8, Altoona 2 – Brian Buscher had quite a day. The 3B went 3-3 with two walks and two RBI. Luke Hughes went 3-4 with two doubles and an RBI. Kyle Geiger had a two run double. Tristan Crawford got the win. The Australian went the first seven innings. He gave up just one run on four hits. He walked two and struck out four. Danny Powers threw a scoreless inning before JP Martinez gave up a run in his inning.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Wednesday - Miracle 3, Vero Beach 2 – Joe Mauer caught nine inning for the Miracle. He went 0-3, but he didn't hurt himself, which is really all that matters. The Miracle offense managed just four hits. Erik Lis had two of them, including his fifth homer. Zach Ward continued to pitch well. He gave up two runs on eight hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out nine. David Shinskie got the win with three shutout innings in relief.
Wednesday - Snappers – No Game Scheduled. Tentatively, Jeff Manship will make his return start next Thursday.
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 day!|