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Draft Theories

The MLB Draft is a complicated beast.

For instance, the draft pool rules are somewhat confusing. You can't trade (most) picks. And the pool is full of two specific groups - prep and college players - that are typically separated by three years of age, skills and development.

Those are just a few things. Before Day 3 kicks off, I'm going to run through my theory of what was going on inside the draft room over the last two days.
We're all aware that the Twins entered the draft process with an advantage over the other clubs - that coming off the heels of being the worst team in baseball last season and cushioned by the fact they qualified for a Comp Round A pick - owning the largest draft pool in all of baseball and the largest pool of all time.

It was entirely fair to assume that the club wasn't going to spend its entire allotment ($7.7m) on the first pick. No team ever had. In all likelihood, no team ever will. The Twins were going to take the player they liked the most in a price range they were comfortable with.

There are rumblings that Brendan McKay turned down an offer from the Twins. I'd be surprised if he was the only one. But I doubt it was an "offer" as much as it was the Twins trying to find the magic number with a handful of players. Brendan McKay will likely break the new-rule bonus record of $6.7m held by Kris Bryant when he signs with the Rays. It wouldn't surprise me if Hunter Greene's number is in that range too.

But Royce Lewis wasn't a "money-saving" pick. Lewis was the club's top target and will sign for a fair price - a price that will likely be very close to - if not more than - $6.7m.

Basically, what I'm saying is that Lewis, McKay and Greene will all sign for relatively similar bonuses. And, honestly, I think the Twins had a pretty good inkling that regardless of who they drafted - and they didn't make their mind up til the very end according to various reports - they were going to bank around a $1 million.

That's not being cheap. That's just using the resources available to them.

Now let's turn the page...

Immediately our focus turned to picks 35 and 37. We knew there would be some money available to spend later in the draft. It made a ton of sense to do it at 35 and/or 37.

And I'm sure - OK, not sure but guessing - that the club had a handful of prospects they really hoped would fall to these spots and that the money would be used up. Purely speculative, but I'd put Shane Baz and Seth Romero in that group. Sam Carlson was someone fans placed in that group. Call it whoever you want and call that pie-in-the-sky Plan A.

The fact is, though, outside of the draft room not one knows who was actually in that group or how big it was. From everything that I can gather, they weren't "sniped," there just wasn't a prospect they liked so much to blow their entire pool on (which at that time could have been nearly $3 million). So they stuck to their board at #35 with Brent Rooker and took a player at #37 in Landon Leach who was quickly moving up draft boards.

And then they turned to Plan B, which was still a really good plan.

When Leach's name was called - and Carlson's wasn't - and then fans looked for where he was ranked by Baseball America and MLB.com, many were aghast. How dare they go cheap! Did they just screw up their whole draft? Those types of things filled up both my Twitter timeline and mentions. To many I replied with some variety of "let's see what happens tomorrow."

The reality was they knew they still had around $1.5m with which to play around. They probably also - when they picked at #35 and #37 - had a really good idea which group of prep arms would fall to the first pick of the third round. A group that I'm assuming they thought would include Sam Carlson and definitely included Blayne Enlow.

As soon as Monday's picks wrapped up, I'm guessing they got on the phone with Enlow's reps and made sure the (reportedly) $2 million they had to offer him was enough. It was.

One question that gets asked often is, "Then why not just draft Enlow in Round 2 and take Leach in Round 3. Hoping he falls was risky." Yep, it was. But you can also look at it from a couple of other perspectives: Maybe Leach was a guy the club had to have. And Enlow was one of a group they knew they'd get one of.

It also could do with the draft pools. If Enlow is drafted in Round 2 and doesn't sign, the club loses a lot more of their pool than if he's drafted in Round 3 and doesn't sign.

Then they turned the page to the next rounds, which they seemed to have played relatively straight until round 8, when they draft their first of three consecutive college seniors.

When the smoke cleared on Day 2, I asked about the signability of the players and the remaining draft pool: No concerns on signability and no money left.

As we turn the page to Day 3, the focus shifts to filling rookie-league rosters. Though reports of Enlow's bonus started to drift out last night, there will still be a few back-up guys drafted just in case he doesn't sign and they have money to use.

All in all, the Twins did a pretty good job manipulating their pool to get the best high school shortstop, one of the top college bats, and two really good prep arms.

Maybe they do know what they're doing.

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57 Comments

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Nick Nelson
Jun 14 2017 08:34 AM

My theory? They wanted Enlow. Had him lined up at 35 or 37 (where the bonuses are 1.9m/1.8m) but told him they would give him a little more if he informed other teams he wasn't going to sign so he could slide and the Twins could use those picks on other guys they liked. Then, they draft him at 76, give him a bonus higher than either the 35 or 37 slot (I hear $2M?) and come away with what they feel are four 1st/2nd-round talents.

 

I like it. 

    • Carole Keller, diehardtwinsfan, Loosey and 8 others like this

Definitely believe they had Enlow higher on their boards than Carlson.

 

Falvey is known for identifying pitching, and I've heard him talk about things like spin rate multiple times when talking about pitchers. Enlow had the highest spin-rate on his curve in the draft, and was largely considered the best breaking ball available as well. Wonder if they see some Kluber-like traits in there.

 

My favorite pick of the day though? Rooker. I find it strange he wasn't more highly regarded and think that was based on past seasons, not this year and the work he's put in. Dude is going to hit.

    • Carole Keller, Thrylos, diehardtwinsfan and 7 others like this

 

Definitely believe they had Enlow higher on their boards than Carlson.

 

Falvey is known for identifying pitching, and I've heard him talk about things like spin rate multiple times when talking about pitchers. Enlow had the highest spin-rate on his curve in the draft, and was largely considered the best breaking ball available as well. Wonder if they see some Kluber-like traits in there.

 

My favorite pick of the day though? Rooker. I find it strange he wasn't more highly regarded and think that was based on past seasons, not this year and the work he's put in. Dude is going to hit.

I can't wait for Rooker to get started. The guy can mash

    • Carole Keller, Steve Lein, nicksaviking and 3 others like this

Assuming all those players sign for the same money.......

 

they must just like Lewis more than McKay, Wright, Greene.

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Jeremy Nygaard
Jun 14 2017 09:20 AM

 

Assuming all those players sign for the same money.......

 

they must just like Lewis more than McKay, Wright, Greene.

 

That's essentially what I was told:

 

"Just because the media had other guys ahead of Lewis, doesn't mean the industry did."

 

Had the Twins not drafted him, he would have went to San Diego (is the belief).

    • Mike Sixel, gunnarthor, Dance with Disco Dan and 1 other like this
When I google Enlow, the first article is one from SB nation, just seven days ago titled "Blayne Enlow's velocity loss has his draft stock crashing"

No link on phone but you can easily find it. Says he went from 90-94 (earlier pegged at 92-94) to 89-91.

Is this a rogue article? I can't find any other traction on this.
    • frightwig likes this

Good work Jeremy!

 

Was reading Callis this morning too, he loves the Twins draft thus far. Said Enlow has best curve of any pitcher in draft and that Barnes has best changeup. 

    • bluechipper likes this

 

Assuming all those players sign for the same money.......

 

they must just like Lewis more than McKay, Wright, Greene.

 

I have very little doubt in my mind that Royce Lewis was #1 on their board.

    • Mike Sixel, BigSkyTwinsFan and MN_ExPat like this
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Carole Keller
Jun 14 2017 09:27 AM

My initial disappointment after the first pick has waned. I still wanted Greene, but I think the big picture looks pretty good.

 

Good write up and theories.

    • BigSkyTwinsFan, Puckett34 and Dr. Evil like this

I posted this on twitter...

 

After talking a bit, reading more, and then making some guesses... here is how I think the Twins draft board was at the top... (take it for what its' worth)

 

1.) Royce Lewis

2.) Brendan McKay

3.) Kyle Wright

4.) Hunter Greene

5.) MacKenzie Gore

    • Steve Lein and Mike Sixel like this

 

My theory? They wanted Enlow. Had him lined up at 35 or 37 (where the bonuses are 1.9m/1.8m) but told him they would give him a little more if he informed other teams he wasn't going to sign so he could slide and the Twins could use those picks on other guys they liked. Then, they draft him at 76, give him a bonus higher than either the 35 or 37 slot (I hear $2M?) and come away with what they feel are four 1st/2nd-round talents.

 

I like it. 

I don't know.  Seems like the teams picking 38-56 or so wouldn't have had much trouble meeting that price for Enlow.  And Enlow takes some risk staying on the board until 76 -- what if the Padres grab him at 69 and offer $1.6 mil?  Now he either has to take a couple hundred thousand less to sign, or pass up signing altogether, just to help the Twins and get another $100-200k?

    • frightwig and markos like this

 

When I google Enlow, the first article is one from SB nation, just seven days ago titled "Blayne Enlow's velocity loss has his draft stock crashing"

No link on phone but you can easily find it. Says he went from 90-94 (earlier pegged at 92-94) to 89-91.

Is this a rogue article? I can't find any other traction on this.

 

I've also seen reports that the lower velocity was earlier in the season and he was back up to 90-93 when the weather warmed up.

    • ThejacKmp likes this
It is sort of funny.

Greene could come back to totally haunt the Twins and if he does, Lewis could literally be a punchline a la Darko Milicic

Or it could be a Mauer/Prior or Correa/Appel thing.

Those are the two extremes
    • Vanimal46 likes this

 

It is sort of funny.

Greene could come back to totally haunt the Twins and if he does, Lewis could literally be a punchline a la Darko Milicic

Or it could be a Mauer/Prior or Correa/Appel thing.

Those are the two extremes

 

Or they both flame out. (knocks on wood)

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ashburyjohn
Jun 14 2017 09:55 AM

My theory is a little more big-picture: FalVine are all about gearing up for the cohort that marks the next five-year window of contention. Only Rooker looks like he might contribute significantly in a year or two. The extreme emphasis on high-schoolers for the high-end-talent portion of the draft won't start to bear fruit until 2021 at the soonest.

 

The major league team needs pitching now. They no doubt have some kind of plan for addressing it, while the current cohort still is together and productive. A major free-agent signing, a major trade involving the current pipeline of prospects... some combination. But not this draft. (Bluebirds among the new college draftees of course may always fall into one's lap.) That's my draft theory. The tactics of this draft are an interesting but secondary matter. The strategy is much easier to execute when the constraint of worrying about the current 40-man roster is removed. That's how I read the 1:1 pick, and most of what followed.

    • birdwatcher, Mike Sixel, Loosey and 2 others like this

1. I don't think that the Twins drafting of Lewis at 1.1 was a straight forward money saving pick.  Based on what I have heard in public media and their deliberation, they probably had at least McKay and Lewis ranked close, with the pitchers, and took the player in that group that was willing to take the Twins offer.  

 

2. I think that the Twins management has turned to a new money-ball draft approach.  Since the original, college pitchers have become overdrafted and overpriced.  So, drafting a HS position player at or near the top of the draft gives you essentially the better bang for the buck now.

 

3.  I believe that the Twins made a mistake passing on Blayne Enlow at #37.  Draft wise it has worked out because Enlow was still available at #76, but drafting him at #37 meant it was easier to sign him above slot value and you did not have to risk losing him between picks #38 and 75. If you draft him #37, and have to pay him $3 million to sign, you only have to come up with $1.2 million over slot.  But at #76 you have to come up with $2.25 million over that slot, meaning $1 million more needs to be skimped from other picks.  

 

4.  So, you work out the deal for Enlow at #37 and then draft a guy at slot value at 76.  Since we overdrafted Leach, there is a good chance he is still available at 76.  

5.  Once the draft reached the 6th round, teams suddenly turned to college seniors to save on the lower round slotted value.  In the 10th round, 24 college seniors were selected, 6 juniors, and zero HS players.

 

6.  I think that this creates a new moneyball opportunity and shows why I would have selected ENlow at #37.  Lets say you do that, and pay Enlow all of the slot savings you made from Lewis, and you still have a bit more from that and a lower slot signing of Rooker.  Now, from rounds 3-10 instead of selecting players below slot value, you draft signable players in those rounds at the slot value.  I think that this would have given the Twins somewhat better value, particularly in the later part of the 2nd day.

    • frightwig likes this
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twinsfanstreif
Jun 14 2017 10:39 AM

I just found this today, prior to the draft MLB.com did an article on the best tools in the draft here: http://m.mlb.com/new...picid=151437456

 

We came away with 2 of the best pitching tools, Best Curve (Enlow) and best Change (Barnes). We also had 2 of the "In the running," Best Speed (Lewis) and Best Power (Rooker). That's pretty darn good, the only other team to get 2 was Cincy and they were both Hunter Greene (Best Arm and Best Fastball). Cincy had no other players that made the "In the Running" category

    • Mike Sixel, bluechipper and nytwinsfan like this

 

1. I don't think that the Twins drafting of Lewis at 1.1 was a straight forward money saving pick.  Based on what I have heard in public media and their deliberation, they probably had at least McKay and Lewis ranked close, with the pitchers, and took the player in that group that was willing to take the Twins offer.  

 

2. I think that the Twins management has turned to a new money-ball draft approach.  Since the original, college pitchers have become overdrafted and overpriced.  So, drafting a HS position player at or near the top of the draft gives you essentially the better bang for the buck now.

 

3.  I believe that the Twins made a mistake passing on Blayne Enlow at #37.  Draft wise it has worked out because Enlow was still available at #76, but drafting him at #37 meant it was easier to sign him above slot value and you did not have to risk losing him between picks #38 and 75. If you draft him #37, and have to pay him $3 million to sign, you only have to come up with $1.2 million over slot.  But at #76 you have to come up with $2.25 million over that slot, meaning $1 million more needs to be skimped from other picks.  

 

4.  So, you work out the deal for Enlow at #37 and then draft a guy at slot value at 76.  Since we overdrafted Leach, there is a good chance he is still available at 76.  

5.  Once the draft reached the 6th round, teams suddenly turned to college seniors to save on the lower round slotted value.  In the 10th round, 24 college seniors were selected, 6 juniors, and zero HS players.

 

6.  I think that this creates a new moneyball opportunity and shows why I would have selected ENlow at #37.  Lets say you do that, and pay Enlow all of the slot savings you made from Lewis, and you still have a bit more from that and a lower slot signing of Rooker.  Now, from rounds 3-10 instead of selecting players below slot value, you draft signable players in those rounds at the slot value.  I think that this would have given the Twins somewhat better value, particularly in the later part of the 2nd day.

 

I think you might underrate their view of Leach. I suspect they really wanted him and don't think he would have made it to the 3rd round.

    • Steve Lein, Mike Sixel, diehardtwinsfan and 3 others like this

 

I think you might underrate their view of Leach. I suspect they really wanted him and don't think he would have made it to the 3rd round.

 

I prefer Enlow to Leach by a long shot.  The bonus money is assumed to be significanly higher for Enlow vs. Leach.  SO, I guess I would rather risk losing Leach than Enlow.  

 

Even if I believe it was a mistake, it might work out in the end if they can sign both.  I hope that is the case.

    • wagwan likes this
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bluechipper
Jun 14 2017 10:51 AM

I'm happy overall with how it played out. I wanted either McKay or Wright at 1-1, but I can live with the upside pick of Lewis. The next 3 picks sound promising too, especially Enlow and Rooker.

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SarasotaBill
Jun 14 2017 12:25 PM

Derek & Thad had a plan:

-- maximize talent by squeezing the top draft pick

-- see if McKay would accept a under slot #4 pick deal to save even more

-- favor position over pitcher at 1:1 to lower risk

-- obviously really wanted Rooker at 35

-- do an over slot deal in the 3rd instead of the 2nd to lower risk (could negotiate overnight)

 

Their draft seems to have had good reviews. We'll know a lot more in 4 years.

    • Mike Sixel, BigSkyTwinsFan, beckmt and 2 others like this

 

-- do an over slot deal in the 3rd instead of the 2nd to lower risk (could negotiate overnight)

Doesn't seem like Enlow was a tough sign, sounds like he is quite willing to sign for roughly 35/37 pick money.  So I'm not sure the round or extra night really bought them anything in regards to him.

 

I think the plan must have had Leach in it, even at the risk of losing Enlow.  (And perhaps they did lose Carlson over it.)

    • diehardtwinsfan and markos like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Jun 14 2017 01:18 PM

 

Doesn't seem like Enlow was a tough sign, sounds like he is quite willing to sign for roughly 35/37 pick money.  So I'm not sure the round or extra night really bought them anything in regards to him.

 

I think the plan must have had Leach in it, even at the risk of losing Enlow.  (And perhaps they did lose Carlson over it.)

 

I tend to agree.I think they really liked Leach and had a couple guys Enlow/Carlson that they were willing to let drop.Not many teams had the bandwidth to sign them all at that point. 

 

Edit:I'd add that if they don't have extra money, they had no plans of getting both.

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SarasotaBill
Jun 14 2017 02:10 PM

When the numbers come out, they will provide further insight. In the mean time, my guess is they valued getting Leach at under slot and thought there would be a few overslot guys remaining after the first day.

 

General analytics would assume price dropping overnight. Maybe the overslot guys price dropped overnight from 2.6 (slot #24) to 2.2M (slot #30). If so, another 400k saved to add more talent.

 

My theory is a little more big-picture: FalVine are all about gearing up for the cohort that marks the next five-year window of contention. Only Rooker looks like he might contribute significantly in a year or two. The extreme emphasis on high-schoolers for the high-end-talent portion of the draft won't start to bear fruit until 2021 at the soonest.

 

The major league team needs pitching now. They no doubt have some kind of plan for addressing it, while the current cohort still is together and productive. A major free-agent signing, a major trade involving the current pipeline of prospects... some combination. But not this draft. (Bluebirds among the new college draftees of course may always fall into one's lap.) That's my draft theory. The tactics of this draft are an interesting but secondary matter. The strategy is much easier to execute when the constraint of worrying about the current 40-man roster is removed. That's how I read the 1:1 pick, and most of what followed.

 

I agree with you.  I really thought the new regime would go for fast moving pitching to try and help this current wave out.  Instead they seemed to pick players with high end tools and projection.  So while they did a nice job there is no real immediate help on the horizon with this draft.  

 

So with the results of this draft the only way to help the current window would be trades and there is no guarantee they get a deal that works for them or that they have the players to get what they need.

 

I guess if all else fails then they wait for wave two to arrive.  Then we should have some valuable players to trade like Kepler, Sano, Polcanco, Buxton maybe others. With younger options to fill in like Gordon, Palacios, Whitefield,etc.  We should have money to keep some core talent while younger talent rises.  Will be interesting to see how things play out, but I am starting to doubt they can turn things around soon enough to help the current team.


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