The Major League Baseball Amateur Draft is fast approaching and the Minnesota Twins are slotted to pick fourth overall. With the way the season has been going for the Twins, many fans are setting their sights on the years ahead and the draft is a good place to drum up optimism and hope for a struggling team’s future.
Last season, the Twins took outfielder Byron Buxton with the number two pick in the draft and early indications are that the Twins hit a “home run” with their selection. Buxton has lived up to the hype, hitting .324 with 59 hits, seven HR, 38 RBI, an astounding 35 walks and an OBP of .432 in 182 at-bats for low Class-A Cedar Rapids. Buxton has certainly embraced playing at this level, but it soon may be time for the Twins to send Buxton to high Class-A to see how he matches up against better competition. Might the Twins have a fast-track outfielder on their hands, like the Los Angeles Angels did with Mike Trout? It’s possible, but time will tell.
~~~ Originally published on www.rantsports.com ~~~
When the Twins selected Buxton, he was widely considered the “best available” player on the board and some even argued that he was the most talented player in the draft. By getting him with the number two overall pick, the Twins were very fortunate. Often, however, teams debate whether or not to draft for need and major-league readiness or to take the best player available. With their high picks the Twins have often claimed to subscribe to the “best player available” paradigm and last year’s draft fits that model; but with another season underway and the Twins still struggling with a talent-deficient starting rotation, will need and major-league readiness overcome best available this year?
There are plenty of pitching prospects that have been rumored to be on the Twins radar: this group includes Mark Appel, Jonathan Gray, Ryne Stanek,Sean Manaea, Braden Shipley and Kohl Stewart. Lately, Stewart has been a hot name associated with the Twins; but no matter which prospect the Twins take from this list—if the they decide to go in that direction—each comes with a certain amount of risk, weakness and talent. The same goes for position players like Austin Meadows, Kris Bryant and Reese McGuire who all have obvious talent, but are still raw and have their own fair share of question marks.
With all this in mind, what should the Twins’ strategy be? Do they draft a pitcher because the rotation is in such bad shape or do they take the best available player and then continue to build pitching depth in the later rounds? For a team that is starting to restock its minor league system with some very talented players, I would advocate for the “best available” theory for the Twins. Although money will play a significant role in who the Twins decide to choose, the positions they play and their immediate readiness for the majors should not. The question the Twins should ask themselves, regardless of position, is: which player is going to have the best overall career when all is said and done? Which player will get here the soonest should not be the deciding factor. (I think a pitcher will still be the best player available when the time comes for the Twins to draft at number four.)
The Twins are couple years away from returning to contention; not a few years from returning to the World Series, but a few from just returning to contention. With that in mind, the team has time to draft the best available prospect and let him develop in a timely fashion. There seem to be several talented starters in the organization—albeit, mostly at the low levels—who, we hope, will soon be coming up to improve the major league staff; given this, drafting additional talent for the lineup would be OK as well.
It is a crucial draft for the Twins, make no mistake about it; but if they can continue to practice their theory of drafting the best available prospect, they will continue to inch closer to contention and dominance.
Brian Wille is a Minnesota Twins writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @BeeWill15 . For more articles by Brian Wille check out his latest articles about Carlos Gomez's Departure from the Twins Nearly Three Years Later or Kyle Gibson Not Getting a Call to the Majors