Monday, August 1, 2005
Twins Minor League Draft
Good morning everyone! As I mentioned last Thursday, I am still out of town, but I did want to post a new article for you today. A couple of weeks ago, our friend "Roger" came to me with an idea for a post-season Twins minor league All-Star game that he had proposed to the Twins. The format would be similar to MLB's Futures Game. Following their seasons, the Twins would come up with two rosters of their top prospects and play an exhibition game. Of course, the Twins responded saying that the logistics of such a game would make it almost impossible. Each affiliate's season ends at different times. The Twins would have to pay for each player to fly to and stay in Minneapolis for a few days. Pitchers would have already thrown a lot of innings and would be ready for a break. The list of reasons to NOT have this event could go on for quite some time. The list of reasons to play the game would also be lengthy. Imagine seeing potential Twins of the Future all on one field.
Using this idea, we thought it would be fun to try to figure out who would play in such a game. So we came up with a few rules and held a draft. First, I figured since it probably won't happen, why not expand it to three prospect teams and play a round-robin tournament. So, Roger and I enlisted the help of my friend "Tyler" who also follows the Twins minor league system rather closely via this site. The three of us would each draft our own team as if we would manage it. There were certain rules that we had to follow in our draft, including:
Like most fantasy drafts, we went with an 18 round serpentine draft. Through picking names out of a hat, "Seth" had the first pick, "Tyler" had the second pick, and "Roger had the third pick. That meant that Roger also had the 4th pick, and so on.
A team consists of 18 players (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF, OF, OF, SP, SP, SP, SP, RP, RP, RP, Extra, Extra, Extra).
No team could draft more than five players from any one Twins affiliate. However, since Francisco Liriano has pitched for both New Britain and Rochester, he could be used as a member of either team.
Players must have played in the minor leagues this season. In other words, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau were not eligible. However, Jason Bartlett, Luis Rodriguez, Michael Ryan and Terry Tiffee were eligible. (We determined that Jason Kubel was ineligible)
Of course, this 'tournament' could really happen. I mean, I am sure the Roger and Tyler, like myself, would love an all-expense paid trip to Fort Myers next spring to make it happen. (a guy can dream, right?)
And with that, we made all of our picks and the results are below. It was a lot of fun to do. It was interesting to see which players went, and when, and others that were not drafted. It was also interesting to see the draft strategies of the three participants. Please enjoy the following. I asked the others to include a brief comment on their draft pick, why they picked them, etc. Please feel free to e-mail me. I know we would love to read your comments on our teams; who would win this tournament, who would win it if these same rosters played in five years?
So without further ado, here is the 2005 Twins Minor League Draft:
#1 – Seth – Francisco Liriano – SP – New Britain
I don’t think that there is any question any more about who the Twins top prospect is. I think that the Twins probably planned for Liriano to spend the entire season at New Britain, but he performed so well that he deserved the call to Rochester. There, he has been even better. Throws hard. Throws left-handed. Throws three pitches. What more can a team want? I would like to see him up with the Twins in place of Lohse or Mays now, but I also like that we can be patient with a guy with this much talent!
#2 – Tyler – Scott Baker – SP – Rochester
I suppose Justin Morneau wouldn’t count as playing in the minors with his beaning rehab, huh? Well, in that case, I’ll go with Scott Baker. He is family after all. No, he’s not. I think he will be very good pitcher at the major league level. He may not have the #1 potential that some of the other guys have, but he should pan out as a #2 or #3 guy. How does next year’s potential rotation look with Santana, Radke, Silva, Liriano, and Baker? It’s a nice problem to have not being able to have arms like Liriano and Baker penciled in at the top of the rotation due to organizational depth. He looks like he is major league ready right now. He will be up full time by the end of season taking over Joe Mays’ spot in the rotation once he gets shipped out.
#3 – Roger – Travis Bowyer – RP - Rochester
#4 – Roger – Jason Bartlett – SS - Rochester
Well, there go the top two starters closest to being Twins. After them, the starting pool has a lot of similar guys...so have to look in a different direction. Considering that bonus money will likely differ based on where selected (a first rounder will obviously collect more than the first pick on the second round), my picks are above.
#5 – Tyler – Alex Romero – OF – New Britain
The Twins system has become pretty barren as far as OF prospects go. Hunter, Stewart, and Jones (or at the very least 2 of the 3) should all be gone around the time he is ready. I am not so sure about what to think about LEEEEEEEEEEEEEW at this point. Romero’s numbers are looking pretty good right now and getting better. Assuming they don’t go out and sign someone, Romero should be given every chance to succeed. Do the Twins just not draft anyone who bats right?
#6 – Seth – Matt Moses – 3B – Fort Myers
Well, Romero would certainly have been one of my two picks. With the Twins, I could always still take two pitchers and get good value, but I’d hate to completely look past the hitters. So, with the 6th pick, I will take Matt Moses, 3B, and I’m going to say he’s from the Ft. Myers Miracle since he has only been up with the Rockcats for a couple of weeks. Sure, I may move him to DH at some point, but the man can certainly hit. He mashed in the Florida State League, which is always impressive.
#7 – Seth – Glen Perkins – SP – New Britain
With the 7th pick, I am going to go back to pitching. It is a tough job to weed through all of the pitching prospects and take just one, but I am going to go with Glen Perkins of the New Britain Rockcats. The lefty pretty well dominated the Florida State league before his promotion to the Eastern League. There, he has struggled with his control. But he is still striking out a lot and has three good pitches. Plus, with Liriano, he gives me a second left-handed starter.
# 8 – Tyler – Jay Rainville – SP - Beloit
I assume he counts as playing at Beloit. These young pitchers are hard to sort through. I wonder if I should have gone with one of the other 2004 draft picks…
#9 – Roger – Denard Span – OF – New Britain
#10 – Roger – Errol Simonitsch – SP – New Britain
This is getting interesting. I assume we are now down to the point where signability and bonus money is less of a concern. Do either of you know, does the union contract provide for any set levels of bonus money after the 4th round?
Considering that there has been a run on left handed pitchers, I must get one on my staff with my third round pick. My selection in the fourth round gets me that special leadoff hitter. After several seasons of injuries, Span has made huge strides this year and is proving to be the player the Twins were looking for when they selected him in the first round of the 2002 draft.
#11 – Tyler – Juan Portes – 2B – Elizabethton
With my next pick, I am going to put a lot of my proverbial eggs in Juan Portes’ basket. I can’t say I know a lot about him other than he is putting up some pretty gaudy numbers at E-town.
#12 – Seth – Adam Harben – SP – Fort Myers
Well, again, I was all ready to make my two consecutive picks, but Tyler went and picked one of the two! I really wanted Portes at this point! Thanks a lot! Anyway, I better take the other one then at this time. With my 4th pick, I am going to take Adam Harben, starting pitcher for the Fort Myers Miracle. We were just talking last week, asking why he isn’t being talked about more. In 18 starts, he is just 7-5, but he has an ERA of 2.57! He is still averaging almost four walks per nine innings, but is striking out about eight per nine. Now, I am going to take just another minute to try to come up with my next pick!
#13 – Seth – Doug Deeds – OF – New Britain
Alright, I am still picking between players and decided that I need an outfielder. I am going to pick New Britain’s Doug Deeds. He is rarely mentioned in prospect circles, yet he has put together a very strong, very consistent season at AA. He is hitting .297/.376/.465 with 26 doubles, 11 homers and 57 RBI. The only knock would be that he strikes out about every fifth plate appearance, but I’ll take that with these other numbers.
#14 – Tyler – Trevor Plouffe – SS – Beloit
I am going to go with Onterrio Smith… errr… Trevor Plouffe. The guy is a defensive wizard. Yes, his defense is worse than bad. I am just going to ignore that fact. I like his isolated discipline, and his offensive numbers have been steadily improving. If the kid was 3 years older putting up these numbers, I would just ignore him. Hopefully his defense improves with time (unlike BJ Upton’s). The main thing he has going against him is that I have something like 66 of his Bowman rookie cards. If he ends up being a bust, you can blame me.
#15 – Roger – Nick Blackburn – SP - Fort Myers
#16 – Roger – Danny Matienzo - 1B - New Britain
As a team, I have been light on starting pitching. Of all the top pitchers at Ft. Myers at the start of the year, Blackburn was the only one to make the all-star team. Although Perkins and Simonitsch were moved to New Britain before Blackburn, he has had the best numbers since his recent move up.
Matienzo plays decent defense at first, could be an emergency catcher but is best suited to be a DH. Sound like someone currently on the Twins? It is likely that he will replace LeCroy on the Twins when LeCroy gets too expensive. Matienzo is second in the system with 70 rbi as of this past weekend, has 18 homers and is hitting .281. He is the big right handed bat I need as my cleanup hitter.
#17 – Tyler – Pat Neshek – RP - New Britain
I need a reliever, and I am thrilled to get him here. He has struck out 70 batters in 59 1/3 innings and only walked 19 in that time. That’s nice. All that and he has a great website (http://eteamz.active.com/PatNeshek/). I would think the main thing keeping him from moving up a level is some guy named Bowyer.
#18 – Seth – Luis Maza - 2B - Rochester
Well, I was a huge fan of his last year. When he was sent back down to New Britain for a third straight year, I (and I’m sure he) was disappointed. He really struggled at the bat. It was as if he was told to add power and it really hurt his average. Once he was called up to Rochester though, he really has been solid and deserving of every day play. They are even moving him around a little bit. He may never be more than a utility player in the big leagues, but they said that same thing about Luis Rodriguez and he has been productive. (oh, and Tyler took one of my picks yet again!)
#19 – Seth – Kyle Waldrop – SP - Beloit
I know, of those four top pitching prospects from the 2004 draft, Waldrop has probably been the most disappointing. His record and ERA are both not as good as you would like, or as good as Rainville and Swarzak, but I still like the walk/strikeout rate, and think that he has the most room for growth. Plus, Baseball America ranked him as the Twins 6th best prospect, that has to mean something, right?
#20 – Tyler – Anthony Swarzak – SP - Beloit
I have to go with Anthony Swarzak at this point. He is 6’3” and only 195 pounds at this point. Does he add more velocity or stuff as his frame fills out? That’s an interesting theory. I wonder if there have been any studies done on it to prove how effective of a theory it is... If that’s the case, you would think David Wells would be unhittable.
#21 – Roger – Garrett Jones - 1B - Rochester
#22 – Roger – Jason Miller – RP - New Britain
Garrett Jones is likely the top first baseman in the system, other than projecting someone from the GCL...but they are a long ways off. He gives my squad power and will go well with Matienzo in the #3-4 or #4-5 slots. He strikes out a lot, but has definite major league potential.
Jason Miller is likely the top left handed reliever in the system now that Sawatski has cooled from the start of the year. Moving him up to Rochester last week seems to indicate that the Twins want a long look at how he does in AAA. Considering he is only 22, his future is bright. Does he come up if they move Romero, probably not. But he could be added to the 40-man roster and called up in September. More likely he will be added this winter and given a shot at a lefty spot in the bullpen in 2006.
#23 – Tyler – Erik Lis - 1B - Elizabethton
I don’t really see any of the Twins’ corner infielders being impact players, so I decided to go young and look to the future here at 1B. Lis is 21, left handed, and slugging .611 (.319 BA) in 22 games with E-town. A small sample size to be sure…
#24 – Seth – Willie Eyre – RP - Rochester
The righty is 8-2 with a 3.23 ERA. He has five saves. Impressively, he has 59 strikeouts in 55.1 innings, and just 19 walks. He also has good bloodlines as his brother Scott has been a relief pitcher in the majors for a number of years.
#25 – Seth – JP Martinez – RP - Beloit
Martinez played for former Twin Randy Bush at the University of New Orleans, so that is why I am drafting him. Well, that and he is 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA. He also has 12 saves. In 63.1 innings, he has 61 strikeouts and opponents are hitting just .198 against him.
#26 – Tyler – David Winfree - 3B - Beloit
He’s striking out quite a bit to go with very few walks (74:14). I would like to see some major improvement there. At age 19, it looks like he could have some nice doubles power with 25 in 96 games, and that could translate to more power in the future. You have to love the defensive potential of the left side of my infield with him and Plouffe! The best case scenario is that we won’t need him at 3B because Matt Moses will be holding down the fort. Can I just move Winfree to a corner outfield spot now?
#27 – Roger – Terry Tiffee - 3B - Rochester
#28 – Roger – Boof Bonser – SP - Rochester
I chose Tiffee to fill my 3B slot and bat third ahead of Matienzo and Jones. He is about ready for the "show," however, may not have the potential of Moses. Actually, Tyler's selection of Winfree kept me from having to make that decision. I was intending on taking either Winfree or Tiffee with this pick. Winfree has an uncanny knack for getting a lot of rbi from otherwise unspectacular numbers on a team that lacks great offense. I believe he may be the Twins starting 3B a few years down the road (yes over Moses)...provided his defense improves. Is it possible that he is the type of clutch hitter the Twins so dearly lack?
Because I chose third the two pitchers that are clearly ready and superior prospects to anyone else in the system, Liriano and Baker, were gone. Boof Bonser isn't an equal prospect to those two, however, he will be a competent ace of my staff. Other than his last start, he has been a horse for Rochester as indicated by his team leading wins (8) and innings pitched (116). Obviously Baker would have more innings if he hadn't spent time in Minnesota, however, Bonser's performance this season has inserted him back into the hunt of a potential spot in the Twin's rotation.
#29 – Tyler – Kevin West – OF - Rochester
He’ll never be a star, no doubt about it, but he could be a fourth or fifth outfielder on a major league roster. He has an .844 OPS in a season that may be considered a disappointment. I haven’t seen too many .844 OPS’s on the Twins’ major league roster (not that he’ll repeat that in the Show). I can see him possibly getting a cup of coffee with the Twins later this year
#30 – Seth – Deacon Burns – OF - Beloit
Yeah, he’s a little bit older for the Midwest League, but the Twins really do seem to be quite weak in outfield prospects. He is hitting well, getting a lot of extra base hits, this year. He was a late-round pick in 2004 and has been very solid in his first full season.
#31 – Seth – Trent Oeltjen – OF - Fort Myers
You had to know I would take him. I’ve been a fan of the speedy outfielder from Australia for a couple of years. He did have an injury to start the season and then started out slow, but he has rebounded to hitting around .270.
#32 – Tyler – Justin Jones – SP - Fort Myers
This guy could be good if his arm doesn’t fall off. He’s still only 20. I can see him moving to the bullpen if the arm problems continue. I’ll use him as a left handed starter for now.
#33 – Roger – Javi Sanchez – C - Beloit
#34 – Roger – Danny Santiesteban – OF - GCL Twins
Sanchez is likely the top Twins prospect of all catchers in the system. Heintz is hitting well over .300 at Rochester, however, he is over 30 and not on the 40-man roster thus must be considered a career minor leaguer. Rob Bowen has had a few stints with the Twins and is hitting much better than previous years at .261. Sanchez, a 14th round pick in 2004, has very quietly been a very solid catcher with an average that has risen to .276. The ex-Notre Dame player must be considered as a future backup to Mauer...perhaps 3 or 4 years in the future.
Danny Santiesteban is currently on the DL with a broken pinkie, however, he was expected to be out only 3 weeks which should have him returning in a week or so. The 2004 draft and follow had perhaps the greatest start in the GCL of anyone in recent memory. In just 46 at bats before his injury, he had 6 homers and 18 rbi with an average of .370. Assuming he plays well for the balance of the season after he returns from the DL, look for Santiesteban to begin next year at Beloit and move quickly up the system.
#35 – Tyler – Michael Ryan – OF - Rochester
He’s not ½ bad, so that must make him about ½ good.
#36 – Seth – Alexander Smit – RP - Elizabethton
He was just 1-9 with Beloit and control was a big part of his issue. So they sent the 19 year old back to Elizabethton for more work there. They kept him in the bullpen and he has again dominated the Appalachian League completely. In 26.1 innings, he has allowed 15 hits and six walks, but he has also struck out an amazing 52 batters. He is 4-1 with a 3.08 ERA there.
#37 – Seth – Chris Heintz – C - Rochester
I would agree with Roger. He is not a prospect. He’s over 30. He is not a good defensive catcher. However, this year he is hitting .314/.363/.473 with 12 doubles, 7 homers and 42 RBI. Very good numbers, and he was just as good last year. He isn’t a prospect, but in a Twins post-season game, a guy like this sometimes deserves the spot just to give him the recognition that he deserves. This year, he has even played other positions, including 3B. I’ll take him on my roster!
#38 – Tyler – Eduardo Morlan – RP - Elizabethton
At this time, I would like him to be from Elizabethtown. Can I put him in as a relief pitcher? He has made a relief appearance. He is yet another 2004 draft pick (3rd round). He’s 19, throws 95+, and he has struck out 47 in 32 innings to go with 13 walks. Think of the potential logjam of pitchers in AA and AAA over the next 2-3 years!
#39 – Roger – Kevin Slowey – SP - Beloit
#40 – Roger – Tim Lahey – RP - Elizabethton
Kevin Slowey may be the top pitcher chosen in this year's draft. Taken as our second pick of the second round, he had wonderful numbers in a few brief appearances at Elizabethton and was the first pitcher called up to Beloit to replace the "young guns" as they started moving up to Ft. Myers. Look for Slowey to compete with Garza as the first to move up to Ft. Myers next year.
Tim Lahey is a special story. Having the benefit of an education from Princeton University, he is a special kid who has made the move from catcher to closer. His numbers at Elizabethton have been lights out, having given up 0 earned runs in 13.1 innings. Considering that he has been a pitcher for two months, it is likely he has a lot to learn and will need to develop a second/third pitch...all indications are he has some talent.
#41 – Tyler – Eli Tintor – C - Elizabethton
It’s time to go with a catcher. I’ll go with Eli Tintor, C, E-Town. All I know about him is that he is 20 years old, right handed, hitting .300, and his name is not Rob Bowen or Corky Miller. I’ll take my chances.
#42 – Seth – Luis Rodriguez – IF - Rochester
I am going to put L-Rod in as an extra. He has been one of my favorite Twins minor leaguers the past couple of seasons because of he has had more walks than strikeouts. He finally got a shot with the Twins this spring, and only because of massive injuries, but he has made the most of it, hitting about .300. He can play all three infield positions.
#43 – Seth – Matt Tolbert – SS – Fort Myers
I will then fill my shortstop position with Matt Tolbert. He is another member of the Twins Class of 2004 draftees. The Twins took him with their 16th round pick out of the University of Mississippi. The 23 year old is hitting just .254, but has come on of late.
#44 – Tyler – Steven Duguay – RP – Beloit
The 22 year old righty racks up the Ks (35 in 28 1/3 innings this year) although I don’t think he throws all that hard. He also has a WHIP just under 1.00 and an ERA of 1.91. I’d like to see the 1 walk every other inning go down a bit.
#45 – Roger – Felix Molina – 2B – New Britain
#46 – Roger – Andrew Thompson – SS – GCL Twins
Felix Molina is a 22 year old version of Rodriguez and Maza. Another latin player who can play second, short, third with an occasional game in left field. His average has been solid at New Britain (.270's) and he will be a solid player along side Bartlett in my infield.
Andrew Thompson was a high school shortstop in this year's draft. The son of a former big leaguer, there were a lot of indications he would go to his dad's alma mater (U of Florida) rather than sign a pro contract. The Twins selected him as their "sandwich pick" following the second round. In his brief play at the GCL, he is hitting around .400. Too early to tell if it will continue...but I will take a shot on him as my backup middle infielder.
#47 – Tyler – Richard Sojo – OF – GCL Twins
Since 2 of my outfielders will be old and gray by the time my infield is ready for the Show. Great logic, I know…
#48 – Seth – Brock Peterson – 1B – Fort Myers
Yes, he strikes out once every 4 at bats, but he is hitting .270/.364/.418 with the Miracle. He has 17 doubles, 8 homers and 44 RBI. And he’s still just 21 years old, so the word “Potential” still certainly applies.
#49 – Seth – Ryan Mullins – SP - Elizabethton
The Twins 2nd round pick in June, the left-hander probably would have gone much earlier if not for some off-the-field issues while in college. Assuming that was a one-time issue, this is a great pick. At E-Town, he is 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA so far. In 27.2 innings, he has allowed 16 hits and nine walks, but has struck out 39 hitters. I like him as much as Garza.
#50 – Tyler – Matt Garza – SP – Elizabethton
The 6’4” 21 year old righty looks pretty “projectible” at only 190 pounds. He performed well for Fresno State this year, and he strikes out a lot of hitters.
#51 – Roger – Scott Whitrock – OF – Fort Myers
#52 – Roger – Jeremy Pickrel – OF - Beloit
Scott was drafted out of Madison Area Technical College in the 19th round of the 2001 draft. He has steadily moved up the system and as of Sunday leads Ft. Myers in homers and rbi (with Moses gone). Whitrock is a steady outfielder who also steals a lot of bases. Should he continue to improve, he could compete for a spot like Michael Ryan in a several years where he would move back and forth between AAA and the Twins. Scott is from Wisconsin Rapids and played for Steve Hauser at MATC. Steve was the interim Athletic Director/Head Baseball Coach at Macalester when they were recruiting JR. He left when MAC hired Irv Cross and went to MATC where he doubles in the same positions...he is a great guy!
Pickrel was drafted in the 10th round of the 2004 draft. He currently has one of the top averages on the Beloit team as well as 8 homers and 40 rbi as of Sunday. Pickrel will likely move to Ft. Myers next year with a similar future to Whitrock should his development continue.
#53 – Tyler – Henry Sanchez – 1B – GCL Twins
At age 18, he is being compared to Cecil Fielder both in terms of power and build. Talk about the good and the bad (or the ugly)! He was touted as the best pure power prospect in the draft. How nice would Cecil Fielder’s power look at DH in the Twins’ lineup about 6 years from now when Morneau and Mauer are hitting 70-80 a year combined from the left side of the plate (assuming the Twins lock them both up long term)? Oh, and I waited till the last round to draft Sanchez because I will believe it when I see it.
#54 – Seth – Josh Rabe – OF - Rochester
Like West and Ryan, Rabe’s Twins career may be limited to spot duty in the outfielder. I have seen him play a few times on TV and the similarities between he and Michael Restovich are incredible. He is just coming back from his second injury of this season, but he has always quietly put up very solid, but unspectacular, all-around numbers.
My starting 9 are as follows:
Jason Bartlett SS
Denard Span CF
Terry Tiffee 3B
Dan Matienzo* DH
Garrett Jones 1B
Javi Sanchez C
Jeremy Pickrel RF
Scott Whitrock LF
Feliz Molina 2B
My starting rotation is:
My bullpen is:
My reserves are:
Andrew Thompson 2b/ss/3b
Danny Santiesteban of
*Dan Matienzo--starting DH (backup @ 1b/emergency c)
C Eli Tintor (RH) (a catcher at leadoff?! It’s my team!)
2B Juan Portes (RH)
CF Alex Romero (LH)
DH Henry Sanchez (RH)
RF Kevin West (RH)
SS Trevor Plouffe (RH)
LF Michael Ryan (LH) platoon with Sojo (RH)
3B David Winfree (RH)
1B Eric Lis (LH)
SP Scott Baker (RH)
SP Jay Rainville (RH)
SP Justin Jones (LH)
SP Anthony Swarzak (RH)
Closer Pat Neshek (RH)
RP Eduardo Morlan (RH)
RP Steven Duguay (RH) (on DL)
Extra Matt Garza (RH)
Extra Richard Sojo (RH) – platoon with Ryan and get some ABs at DH
Extra Henri Sanchez (RH) – should get most of the DH ABs
Therefore, my lineup becomes:
Trent Oeltjen CF
Luis Maza 2B
Doug Deeds RF
Chris Heintz C
Matt Moses 3B
Josh Rabe DH
Brock Peterson 1B
Deacon Burns LF
Matt Tolbert SS
Starting Rotation of:
Luis Rodriguez (obviously he would be in this lineup ahead of Tolbert most times, but after the Twins push toward the playoffs, I think he will be happy to just be a role player.)
Josh Rabe (primarily would DH after his foot injuries, but he can play all three OF positions.)
Ryan Mullins (probably more advanced at this stage than Waldrop, but he threw many innings in the college season, so we’ll just use him in spot duty.)
And with that, I am going to call it a day and a week! I hope everyone has a good one! As always, please feel free to e-mail me your thoughts on the Twins, the minor leagues, or anything you would like to discuss.
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