Twins Have Found Value in Late Round Draft Picks
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY Sports6th Round: Pat Neshek (10.7 Career WAR, 3.0 Twins WAR)
Neshek has gone on to have a 13-year big league career as he appeared in 20 games last season for the Phillies. He’s been selected to four All-Star teams, but they have all come after he turned 33-years old. His time in Minnesota (129 2/3 innings) saw him compile a 3.05 ERA with a 1.01 WHIP and a 151 to 45 strikeout to walk ratio.
7th Round: Latroy Hawkins (18.0 Career WAR, 8.1 Twins WAR)
Hawkins pitched nine seasons in a Twins uniform, but the more amazing feat might be the fact he pitched in the big leagues until his age-42 season. Minnesota used him as a starting pitcher through the 1999 season, but he led the league in earned runs that year and would transition to the bullpen for the rest of his career. Because most of his Twins tenure was as a starter, his 5.05 ERA 1.523 WHIP are high. However, no one pitches 21 years in the big leagues without providing some value.
8th Round: Brad Radke (45.4 Career/Twins WAR), Brian Dozier (23.6 Career WAR, 22.7 Twins WAR)
Radke and Dozier are a strong duo to pull out of the draft’s same round. Since the Twins moved to Minnesota, only five players have compiled more WAR in a Twins uniform and four of them are in the Hall of Fame (Carew, Killebrew, Puckett and Blyleven) and the fifth, Mauer, likely could be there someday. Dozier was a late bloomer as he didn’t debut with the Twins until age-25 and he was a first-time All-Star at age-28. His last three full seasons in Minnesota he hit .258/.335/.496 while averaging 35 home runs per season.
9th Round: Mitch Garver (5.1 Career/Twins WAR)
Like Dozier, Garver was a bit of a late bloomer, but he’s revamped his offensive and defensive approach since leaving college. He has 218 games played at the big-league level and last season he was masterful at the plate with a .995 OPS and 31 home runs while only appearing in 93 games. Many fans were looking forward to what he was going to be able to do for an encore performance during the 2020 campaign.
10th Round: Steve Braun (17.4 Career WAR, 15.0 Twins WAR), Jeff Reboulet (10.0 Career WAR, 5.8 Twins WAR)
For younger fans, Braun might be a name that is a little less familiar. He played the bulk of his career during the 1970s and early 1980s when the Twins were between their strong 1960’s teams and their future World Series squads. In over 750 Twins games, he hit .284/.376/.381 while playing all over the infield. Reboulet joined the Twins in 1992 as a 28-year old that spent six seasons working his way through the minors. He posted a .335 OPS and played decent enough defense at shortstop and third base to help his value.
11th Round: Taylor Rogers (6.4 Career/Twins WAR)
As the team hurdled toward 100-wins last season, Rogers anchored a bullpen that saw some trepidatious moments through the middle of the season. Over the last two seasons (137 1/3 innings), he has posted a 2.62 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP with a 165 to 27 strikeout to walk ratio. That includes a season where the baseball was flying out of the park at a record pace.
Other Late Round Picks: Kent Hrbek (17th Round: 38.4 WAR), Eddie Guardado (21st Round: 13.3 WAR), Corey Koskie (26th Round: 24.6 WAR), Matt Lawton (13th Round: 15.0 WAR)
Some important figures in Twins history fell even deeper than the 12th round of the draft. Hrbek has his number retired by his hometown team and he was a vital part of the two World Series runs. Guardado and Koskie both played pivotal roles on the Twins as the team rebuilt itself in the 2000s. Lawton played on some bad Twins teams in the late 1990’s but he was one of the best players on those squads.
Who gets your vote for the best late round pick in Twins history? Leave a COMMENT and join the discussion.
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