Minnesota Twins Draft Preview
Image courtesy of Steven Branscombe, USA TodaySure, the 2020 draft won’t affect how the best sports betting sites look at the 2020 season. The baseball draft just doesn’t provide the instant gratification, or at least the instant return on investment that the NFL draft or the NBA draft do.
But isn’t that some of what the fun of it is? Being a Major League Baseball player is tough. The players are really good, and even after a successful collegiate career, they have to climb an organization’s ladder.
Scouts have had it tough this year. First, they haven’t been able to see players in action since early March. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t seen the players.
Consider college juniors. It is likely that scouts have at least been aware of most of those players for at least three years, and if they were at all prospects in high school or played on national circuits, they may have five or six years of getting to know them and watch them.
For high school players, most of the high-round draft picks were stars on the national teams the previous summer. It is unusual to find a prep player rocket up draft boards because of his play on the field his senior season. That said, Twins fans need look only to 2019 first-round draft pick Keoni Cavaco to find an example.
There is video. I’m sure there are phone calls to coaches and others around the top players. From talking to several of this year’s prospects, there are generally multiple Zoom meetings with teams each day.
*Click here to listen to Seth discuss the draft on 1390 Granite City Sports*
The Twins Picks
1st round pick - #27 Overall
1st round Competitive Balance Pick - traded to Dodgers (Maeda)
2nd round pick - #59 Overall
3rd round pick - Lost due to signing of Josh Donaldson
4th round pick - #128 Overall
5th round pick - #158 Overall
Recent Twins Draft History
In 2008, Deron Johnson took over as Twins Scouting Director from Mike Radcliff. He held the reins through the Twins 2016 draft. In 2017, Sean Johnson became the Twins Scouting Director and has led the past three drafts. Deron Johnson and Mike Radcliff remain heavily involved in the draft. Looking back over the past dozen drafts (2008-2019), there is definitely a pattern.
#1 - When the Twins have had the first overall pick through the 19th overall pick, they have heavily gone the way of high-upside high school players, usually hitters. Of the eight picks they had in this range, seven of those picks were high school players. And six of those seven were hitters.
2008 - Aaron Hicks (#14 overall), 2012 - Byron Buxton (#2 overall), 2013 - Kohl Stewart (#4 overall), 2014 - Nick Gordon (#5 overall), 2015 - Tyler Jay (#6 overall), 2016 - Alex Kirilloff (#15 overall), 2017 - Royce Lewis (#1 overall), 2019 - Keoni Cavaco (#13 overall).
#2 - When the Twins have had pick #20 through #45 (some years, there were enough Competitive Balance or Compensation picks that those were still ‘first-round’ picks), they have drafted primarily college players. Of the ten picks in this range, nine of them were college players. Of those nine, four were hitters and five were pitchers.
2008 - Carlos Gutierrez (#27 overall), Shooter Hunt (#31 overall), 2009 - Kyle Gibson (#22 overall), 2010 - Alex Wimmers (#21 overall), 2011 - Levi Michael (#30 overall), 2012 - Jose Berrios (#32 overall), Luke Bard (#42 overall), 2017 - Brent Rooker (#35 overall), 2018 - Trevor Larnach (#20 overall), 2019 - Matt Wallner (#39 overall).
So, with the Twins owning the #27 overall pick, history would tell us that they would go for a college player. The fact that they have just four picks in the draft, I think it becomes even more likely.
Going even a little more granular, in the three drafts of Sean Johnson (also the three drafts of the Derek Falvey/Thad Levine era), the Twins have gone quite heavy on bats. Their first round picks have been Royce Lewis, Trevor Larnach and Keoni Cavaco, with Competitive Balance Picks Brent Rooker and Matt Wallner and a second-round pick in Ryan Jeffers. Their second round pick in 2019 was college pitcher Matt Canterino, and in 2017 they selected Canadian prep pitcher Landon Leach. Seven of their eight picks in rounds three through five have been college players. The lone exception was the high upside Blayne Enlow in 2017.
Three Names To Know
Again, history (and recent history) would certainly indicate that we should expect to see the Twins take a college bat with the #27 overall pick. So, here are three names that the Twins may be able to pick. All three are ranked in the 27-37 range of draft prospects, but in several mock drafts, at least one of them has been taken before #27.
Justin Foscue, IF (Mississippi State)
An Alabama native, Foscue went to Mississippi State. He struggled somewhat as a freshman, but he took off as a sophomore, hitting .338/.402/.582 (.984) with 22 doubles and 14 homers. He was off to a strong start in 2020 as well when the season ended. The fact is that he is going to have to really hit because many believe that he could struggle defensively at second base and could move to the outfield. Probably doesn’t have the size and profile to be a full-time DH. But, most believe that he is certain to be a big-league hitter.
Foscue is the player that I selected for the Twins in the Prospects Live draft in late April. I make the pick at the 1:35:57 mark of this video and it is analyzed a bit. Bonus Coverage... find out who I took with the Twins 2nd round pick at the 2:49:38 mark.
Nick Loftin, SS (Baylor)
Loftin is a good example of a player who would be a nice pick up at the end of the first round and be really happy with. While he doesn’t have any elite tools, he does everything fairly well. He hit over .300 each season at Baylor, including .331/.391/.517 (.908) with 20 doubles and six homers. And, he isn’t fast, but he can play shortstop well.
Aaron Sabato, 1B (North Carolina)
The game of baseball is now all about power, and Sabato brings as much power to the plate as anyone in the draft. He’s a burly 6-3 and 230 pounds. As a freshman in 2019, he hit .335/.437/.650 (1.087) with 22 doubles and 13 home runs. In just 19 games this spring, he already had seven doubles and six homers. His value is almost solely based on his power. He has little speed and is considered below average at first base. But, he has as much power as anyone in the draft.
One To Dream On…
The Twins have probably had the most success when they have drafted high school athletic types in the first round. Examples include (but certainly not limited to) Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Ben Revere, Aaron Hicks, Michael Cuddyer and Trevor Plouffe, among others. If there is a player that I believe the Twins are hoping like crazy falls to them at #27 (and has in a few mock drafts), I believe it is...
Ed Howard, SS (high school in Illinois)
Yes, the Twins have some high-end shortstop prospects, but as we have learned and seen, it is really hard to get to the big leagues as a shortstop. Howard has the tools to be a big-league shortstop. He’s got good range, good speed and a strong arm. Most believe that he can stay at shortstop. He also has a strong, athletic frame and a swing that many believe could lead to power down the line too.
Following the five-round draft, teams will be able to sign as many draft-eligible players as they would like for no more than $20,000. The Twins probably helped themselves by announcing two weeks ago that they would continue paying their minor leaguers through the end of August and not releasing players. But, it will be a lot like the recruitment process. It’s about the relationships that the area scouts have built with the players, their advisors, their coaches, etc.
It’s hard to imagine non-drafted high school players signing for just $20,000 if they’re a real good prospect. But it’s also possible that they will choose to go to junior colleges and be eligible for the 2021 draft rather than going to a four-year college and have to wait until 2023 to get drafted.
Seniors may be willing to be sign, though they can get another year of college eligibility if they want. Junior may choose to go back, but if they do, they will also be ‘senior signs’ next year and lose leverage. In other words, it’s not going to be easy to sign players after the draft.
Twins Daily Draft Coverage
Please know that we will be covering the Twins draft extensively over the next few days. We will highlight each of the Twins four draft picks. Be sure to check back often for draft rumors, picks, signings and more.
Thank you to Andrew Thares for his Top 50 prospect rankings and for helping plan the coming days’ coverage
Top Draft Prospects 1-10
Top Draft Prospects 11-20
Top Draft Prospects 21-30
Top Draft Prospects 31-40
Top Draft Prospects 41-50
First Round Busts: The Twins Struckout Three Consecutive Years - Cody Christie
Reviewing Minnesota’s Recent First-Round Picks - Cody Christie
What does MLB History Say About the 27th Pick? - Matthew Taylor
Please feel free to ask questions. Which draft prospects are your favorites, and would you like seeing the Twins draft? How do you feel about the four players mentioned.