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Rebuild Started on Draft Day 2016

Posted by Jonathon Zenk , 04 June 2018 · 1,079 views

minnesota twins alex kirilloff royce lewis ben rortvedt akil baddoo
Rebuild Started on Draft Day 2016 I flash back to June 9, 2016, and the Minnesota Twins sat with a record of 18-40 and they were fighting the Atlanta Braves for the worst record in all of baseball. Not only that, but the minor league system left a lot to be desired. Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios were called up that season, and after the first few prospects, there was not much that excited Twins fans. So, in other words, their major league club was awful and there was not much help on the way.

Enter the 2016 draft. It turned out to be Terry Ryan’s Swan song, as he was fired the following month. With a bad major league product and a lack of good prospects in the minors, Ryan needed to hit on the draft picks in a big way. A bad draft could have set the organization back even further.

Minnesota had pick No. 15, and many fans wanted the team to take Boston College pitcher Justin Dunn. Instead, the Twins took high school outfielder Alex Kirilloff. Dunn has done fine, as the 22-year-old currently has a 2.79 ERA in eight starts for the St. Lucie Mets. However, it is clear Ryan made the right decision.

After missing the entire 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery, Kirilloff has destroyed the Midwest League so far this year, and has recently made his debut in Baseball America’s top 100 prospect list. In 51 games, the 20-year-old has slashed .332/.385/.598. He is currently in the top three in the Midwest League in hits, average, slugging percentage, OPS, homers, RBI and doubles. Obviously, this is just the first step for him, but he is proving his old general manager right, and he will likely get a taste of the Florida State League later this summer.

The string of solid draft picks did not stop with Kirilloff, though, as they added catcher Ben Rortvedt, outfielder Akil Baddoo and second baseman Jose Miranda with their next three picks. They also added pitcher Tyler Wells in the 15th round. Four of the five are top 30 prospects by MLB Pipeline, and I imagine Wells will enter that mix soon.

After a few rough years at the plate, Rortvedt has found a groove. Through 37 games, he is batting .281 with an OPS of .729. He has a ways to go yet, but he is certainly trending in the right direction, and will be promoted soon with Kirilloff.

Baddoo and Miranda both started off the season real slow, but are just now catching fire. After his batting average fell to .212 May 18, Baddoo has hit .333 (11-33) in the eight games since. One of the more impressive things about Baddoo is that his OBP has hovered around .400, even when his batting average has taken a hit. His OBP has not been below .370 since April 22 and has not been lower than .386 since the start of May.

Miranda, like Baddoo, struggled for much of the start of the season. On April 23, his batting average slumped below the Mendoza line, and it would stay that way for a month. He had a six-game hitting streak snapped on Saturday, but in those six games of the hitting streak, he had a batting average of .500 (12-24), knocking in nine runs.

Those four picks by Ryan especially helped get things moving in the right direction for when Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over at the start of the 2017 season. The difference between then and now, especially in the minor league system, is night and day.

The major league club was able to make its first playoff appearance since 2010 last October, and the minor league system has gone from one of the worst in all of baseball to one of the better ones. Falvey and Levine kept the momentum going, as they took a bit of heat for passing on pitcher Hunter Greene to go with shortstop Royce Lewis, who looks like he could be the next big thing with the Twins. The Twins also added Brent Rooker and Blayne Enlow with two of their next three picks. Lewis, Rooker and Enlow are all in Baseball America’s top 10 Twins prospects.

There is no doubt that Ryan had warts, and that the Twins needed to make a change. However, as we sit here on June 4, 2018, the organization is in significantly better shape than it was just two years ago. The minor league system is on the verge of becoming one of the best in baseball, the big league ball club is having an underwhelming, but still only 3.5 games in back of Cleveland for the AL Central lead. The turnaround started that summer two seasons ago when the Twins had a great draft to catapult themselves back into MLB relevancy.

Twins minor league acquisitions since June 2016 on MLB Pipeline’s top 30

1. Royce Lewis, SS
6. Alex Kirilloff, OF
8. Brent Rooker, 1B/OF
9. Blayne Enlow, RHP
11. Akil Baddoo, OF
15. Zack Littell, RHP
19. Andrew Bechtold, 3B
21. Tyler Watson, RHP
23. Ben Rortvedt, C
24. Jacob Pearson, OF
25. Jake Cave, OF
28. Jose Miranda, 2B
29. Landon Leach, RHP
30. Yunior Severino, 2B

  • DannySD likes this

I think the draft in 2016 may have gone a long way to giving us the minor league depth we have, but no one is up from that draft so only our minorleague system has received the boost at this point. The Twins are competetive now mostly from 2009 and 2012 draft and int signings.
Winston Smith
Jun 04 2018 09:48 PM

Until they produce in the bigs or are traded for a quality big league player it doesn't mean much. Most future stars turn out not to be.

Have to agree with Brandon and Winston. Still, it's a great reflection on the future talent that Ryan's final draft tenure brought in. These are all very talented prospects, though a couple years away at least. But the work of this draft should not be ignored.