An Inside Look at Draft Free Agency with a New Twin
Image courtesy of Fordham University Athletics DepartmentTraditionally spanning 40 rounds, Major League Baseball trimmed the amateur draft all the way down to five rounds. Some teams made four or less selections, and every undrafted player was then subject to new undrafted free agent rules.
Players were stuck between some tough decision making processes. Limited to bonus allotments maxing out at $20,000 the financial draw wasn’t what it would be in a traditional year. There’s also the uncertainty as to whether a college program would be stretched in terms of roster capacity with hundreds of players in limbo.
Minnesota didn’t go gangbusters on the open market, but they did target a select few talents. Fordham pitcher John Stankiewicz was among the first undrafted free agents they signed, and I checked in with him to see what the process was like.
Twins Daily: Let's start with the craziness. What was it like going through the draft process in a year where the event was cut substantially short and you had a season put on hold?
John Stankiewicz: It was definitely a bummer that the season was put on hold. I thought we had a pretty good team in 2020 and could have made another championship run. The draft process was a crazy process especially this year. It was a first for everyone so it seemed everyone was somewhat in the same situation.
TD: You leave Fordham after your junior year. What was the decision making process like making the leap to pro ball now? You're doing it on your own terms as an undrafted guy, but traditionally we'd have seen you go shortly after this five round draft concluded.
JS: I have always wanted to play professional baseball so the decision was pretty easy. What made it even easier was the possibility of something like Covid happening again. I wanted to take this opportunity and keep developing and getting better each day.
TD: What about the Twins stood out to you. This whole undrafted free agent process is new. There's a capped bonus allotment, but you also have the choice to go wherever you please. What was the pitch like?
JS: The guys from their player development side pitched some great ideas, especially on how they are advancing along with the game. They use some great new technology to put each player into the best position to become better.
TD: Without necessarily getting into specifics, how much did financials and the economic decision you had to make weigh on you. In a normal year there's bonus allotments through the first ten rounds of a draft. Being capped at a certain amount, did getting whatever you felt like was the most compensation for your ability weigh heavily?
JS: Financials played somewhat of a role but at the end of the day the goal is to play professional baseball and this year is just a little speed bump in the road.
TD: You leave college with a pretty dazzling track record. Working mainly as a reliever in your freshman year, you broke out big time as a sophomore. The 1.47 ERA across 92 innings is no joke, but then the 102/20 K/BB with a .190 BAA is nothing short of exceptional. When did it start to become real that the next level was a possibility? What is your process or style on the mound like?
JS: After my 2019 season it became a little more clear that playing at the next level could be in sight. On the mound I just think, let me get ahead of the hitter and put myself into a spot where I can put him away. Obviously that doesn’t happen every time so you just have to focus on the next pitch.
TD: Take the floor on this last one. What do you want Twins fans to know about John Stankiewicz, and why should they be excited about the first undrafted target Derek Falvey and Thad Levine set their sights on this year.
JS: I’m excited to be a Minnesota Twin and pumped to get going. It’s not about how you start it's about how you finish. I’ll be working hard each and everyday in order to become the best pitcher I can be.
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