Minnesota Twins 2018 MLB Draft Recap
Part of this also stems from the fact that the Twins surrendered their third round pick when they signed Lance Lynn, along with trading away their Competitive Balance Round B pick between rounds two and three to the Padres as part of the Phil Hughes deal. Not only did the Twins lose those picks, but they also lost the bonus pool money that came with them.
In total the Twins had just $5.93 million to spread across each of their picks in the first ten rounds (26th most in MLB). By comparison, the bonus pool for last year’s first overall pick was worth $7.77 million alone and $14.16 million in total. This gave the Twins next to no flexibility to reach out and draft a high value prospect that were going to be expensive to sign.
The front office realized that they would need to take an approach where they could bring in as many guys with some relative upside as possible to give themselves multiple opportunities to hit on a few of their draftees. While most of us expected that to be via the college pitching route, they instead decided to focus on college bats in the early rounds of the draft.
With their first overall pick, the Twins took Trevor Larnach a left-handed hitting outfielder from Oregon State. Shortly after the Twins had selected Larnach, news broke that the Twins and Larnach had already agreed upon, in principle, a dollar figure that it would take to sign him. To me this suggests that Larnach was willing to sign for less than the slot value of $3.1 million that the pick was worth. If not, the Twins still got an excellent ball player in the guy that I had ranked as the 23rd best prospect in the draft.
I mentioned that the Twins seemed to have an eye on college hitters in this draft, but more specifically they had an eye for college catchers, and it makes sense given the lack of depth in the organization at that position.
With their second round pick, the Twins surprised people by taking Ryan Jeffers a catcher from UNC Wilmington.Baseball America had Jeffers ranked as their 295th best player in the draft, but from the reports that have come out of the Twins front office, it appears that the Twins had Jeffers ranked much higher than this.
One thing that we need to bear in mind with the Jeffers pick is even though the Twins took him in the second round, it doesn’t necessarily mean they thought of him as a second round talent. As I mentioned previously, the Twins entered this draft look for an opportunity to save money on some players so they could disperse their bonus pool and that is exactly what they did with the Jeffers pick.
If the Twins would have waited until their next pick at 124, it is likely that Jeffers wouldn’t have been available, and even if he was the savings on the pick would have been much smaller as the slot value for that pick was $700K less than the value at pick 59.
In the eighth round of the draft the Twins took Chris Williams, a catcher from Clemson. Much like Jeffers, Williams is known for the power that he provides with the bat. Personally, I think the upside is bigger with Williams because he has a considerable leg up on Jeffers defensively.
On Day three, the Twins took three more college catchers. Both Trevor Casanova (13th) and Albee Weiss (23rd) come from the same Cal State Northridge program. Casanova is the most well rounded of the catching prospects that the Twins selected, while Weiss is another catching prospect whose best tool is his power bat. Weiss didn’t spend a lot of time at catcher over the past couple of years, so it will remain to be seen if he can stick there in pro-ball.
The other college catcher that the Twins took on day three is Austin Hale (28th) from Stetson. Of the group, Hale is most likely the best defensive catcher but his upside offensively is limited. At Stetson, Hale is the battery mate of Logan Gilbert, the 14th overall pick in the draft.
With some of the money that the Twins were presumably able to save with their first two picks, they were able to turn around and select a few players in rounds 4-10 that have some real upside.
The draft pick that I am most excited about is Utah outfielder DaShawn Keirsey, whom the Twins selected in the fourth round. Keirsey has been an excellent hitter in all three of his seasons at Utah, while playing in one of the best conferences in college baseball. Keirsey also brings an excellent glove in centerfield and plus speed that should allow him to impact the game in more ways than one.
Another upside pick the Twins took was sixth rounder Charles Mack, a high school third baseman from New York. Mack is yet another Twins prospect whose most appealing asset is his power. After playing most of his high school career at short, Mack shouldn’t have much trouble making the transition over to third. Mack does have a strong commitment to Clemson, so the Twins might need to spend more than the $254K assigned to that pick to get him.
With their ninth and tenth round picks, the Twins took two more high school kids (both from Mississippi) with some upside in Joe Garry Jr. and Regi Grace. Garry is a toolsy outfield prospect with great athleticism and a body that could develop some power as he matures. Grace is a pitching prospect with a strong fastball-slider combo. The Twins will most likely have him begin as a starter and see if he has what it takes to make it there.
Even though much of the Twins draft was centered on position players, the Twins still did come away with some intriguing pitchers as well. I already touched on Regi Grace a bit, but let’s look as some of the other Twins pitchers in this year’s class.
The first pitcher the Twins took in the draft was Cole Sands out of Florida State in the fifth round. Sands has dealt with a few injuries that may have caused his stock to fall a bit of late, but when he’s healthy Sands can be an excellent pitcher. One encouraging thing about Sands is the big improvements he has made during his college career at both striking out more hitters and limiting walks.
In the seventh round the Twins took another pitcher, this time it was Virginia Military Institute starter Josh Winder. Winder doesn’t come from a big name college baseball program and his performance there hasn’t exactly been all that inspiring. However, a couple things that Winder does have is an ideal pitchers body and plus stuff from a guy taken in the seventh round. This is exactly the kind of kid you want to bring into your system and see what professional coaching can do for him.
On day three the Twins took a good mix of both starting pitchers and relievers to fill out some more of their roster. Some of the names include Jon Olsen (12th), Kody Funderburk (15th), Anthony Tuionetoa (16th) and Andrew Cabezas (18th) among many others.
A couple of the more intriguing pitching prospects from day three are Austin Schulfer (19th) and Jacob Blank (22nd). Schulfer was a senior starter at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee who struck out nearly a batter per inning while walking less than one batter every three innings this past year. Jacob Blank was the lead horse for the Division II National Champion Augustana Vikings. Blank was named the Division II National Pitcher of the Year in 2017, and has a 1.43 ERA over the last two seasons combined.
The Twins also took Seth Halverson in the 30th round of the draft. Halverson plays for the Heritage Christian Academy and is one of the top high school prospects in the state of Minnesota. It is highly unlikely, however, that Halverson will sign with the Twins as he is committed to play college baseball at the University of Missouri.
Given the circumstances entering the draft, I think the Twins did a good job managing their limitations and brought in some good talent. As is always the case only time will tell how good of a draft class this actually is.
So, I would like to here from you. What grade would you give the Twins draft?
You can read my scouting reports on all 39 Twins draft picks here:
Twins Select Trevor Larnach in the First Round of the 2018 Draft
Twins Select Ryan Jeffers in the Second Round of the 2018 Draft
2018 MLB Draft Day 2 Thread
2018 MLB Draft Day 3 Thread
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