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  • Should Twins Draft for Need or Best Available at Pick Number Four?


    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

    Image courtesy of: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
    This article was originally published in blog: MLB Draft Preview: Should Twins Draft for Need or Best Available at Pick Number Four? started by bwille
    Comments 39 Comments
    1. Twins Daily Admin's Avatar
      Twins Daily Admin -
      To me, this comes down to three questions....

      1) If Kris Bryant is on the board and Appel and Gray are not, is he the automatic pick or do they go with a college pitcher?

      2) If Kohl Stewart is on the board (and Appel, Gray and Byant are gone) is he the automatic pick or do this go with a college pitcher?

      3) Can they come out of this fourth pick with ANY position player other than Bryant and we'll still think it was a good move?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Why inch? Why are they multiple years away? I don't agree with your premise there at all. They could choose to be competitive a lot sooner.

      Look, if there was an OBVIOUS BPA, that is who they should take. But, not everyone agreed Buxton was the top prospect last year. Now, they have zero legit MLB pitchers, and 1 in the minors that looks like he could help this year or next for sure. You need 3-6 of them, not 1.

      If the position player and pitcher are close, take the pitcher. Or, not. And continue to have one of the 5 worst starting staffs in the AL.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      As I think four of the top five players are pitchers, unless Bryant is on the board, the BPA will be a pitcher. Lately the debate has been should the Twins take the BPA or go underslot. If they go underslot I will be very upset.
    1. zenser's Avatar
      zenser -
      I think by the time the Twins draft at four that the best player available will also fill a need. I am assuming Appel, Grey, and Bryant are gone. I think they have to take Stewart. I understand the signability issues. I also think that the Shipley, Stanek, and Manaea are good but I am not sold on them being an ace or 2. I think they can have nice MLB careers but I think you have to take the risk and grab the ace and that would be Stewart. If he doesn't sign, we would likely be looking at 2 top 10 picks next year in a draft class that is considered to be deeper.

      To answer the question in general without regards to this years draft, in my opinion, you need to take the best player available. A smart FO could then turn any depth into trade chips. Obviously, a lot of factors come into play such as age, readiness, and overall ability. That is just my opinion.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Both. They need to draft a prospect with a chance to be an impact player in the major leagues. Like Buxton, who was an obvious and great pick. A pitcher who projects to be a mid-rotation starter? No way you go that route, because they're available via trade. None of us is qualified to make assessments, but when we read the reports, it seems like most scouts don't place any prospect other than the top three and possibly Stewart. So, if the Twins really don't agree with scouts who think Stewart has a #1-2 starter ceiling, and therefore represents a fourth "impact" prospect, then anything they decide will probably be dissappointing to fans.

      Here's what we CAN predict: one of the pitchers selected later in the first round will become an ace. And years from now, some of you will rip the Twins for passing on an obvious, sure-fire ace once again. Trey Ball, anyone?
    1. lightfoot789's Avatar
      lightfoot789 -
      I saw Chris Anderson going to St. Louis in a few Mock Drafts. St. Louis always drafts well and especially with pitchers. He should go in the mid teens of draft anyways. That being said - With no clear cut #4 out there - Draft Chris Anderson at #4 and use that saved money to over pay every remaining draft pick in the top 10 rounds. A local kid who bleeds MN and would not look to bolt from MN in later years. As well as a Big kid who has quality stuff. That is my reach for the day. Who can tell me that there is not another player in draft at our spot (#4) who doesn't have significant flaws. Stewart even has health concerns now. After #3 - everybody is a reach / stretch.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      I think we take Stewart if the first 3 are gone(that is not certain as the Astro's have now been linked with Morin). We have to see. Bryant may be redundant as he plays 3B/OF, positions of strength in the Twins organization.
    1. SgtSchmidt11's Avatar
      SgtSchmidt11 -
      I'm not even sure that the Twinkies should draft Bryant if he's even on the board. If he was solid defensively I'd feel better about it but I'd rather see the Twinkies pull the trigger on Stewart or Shipley. Or better yet, pray to the gods that the Stro's go underslot and the Rockies take Bryant.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by lightfoot789 View Post
      I saw Chris Anderson going to St. Louis in a few Mock Drafts. St. Louis always drafts well and especially with pitchers. He should go in the mid teens of draft anyways. That being said - With no clear cut #4 out there - Draft Chris Anderson at #4 and use that saved money to over pay every remaining draft pick in the top 10 rounds. A local kid who bleeds MN and would not look to bolt from MN in later years. As well as a Big kid who has quality stuff. That is my reach for the day. Who can tell me that there is not another player in draft at our spot (#4) who doesn't have significant flaws. Stewart even has health concerns now. After #3 - everybody is a reach / stretch.
      You're not going to bet the draft just because he's a local kid are you? How about Boldt at 43 instead?
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Simple question--what do the Twins need to become a consistent winner? Quality starting pitching and a dominant hitter for the middle of the lineup. The Twins can't continue to complain about their SP--and then not draft who they think is the best available SP--unless they sign the next Miquel Cabrera.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      I get so sick of these discussions because BPA is incredibly subjective. Buxton was not universally considered BPA. Some looked at Appel, some Gausman, and apparently some thought it was Correa. It's one thing if everyone says "that guy is BPA" like Strasburg was a few years back, but beyond that, this argument gets really silly, as no one can even agree on what they value (such as pitchers being more valuable than hitters, etc) much less who is the best overall player.

      This is where need comes in. In this draft, there are 3 BPAs, that from what I can tell could fall in any order (I should note that I tend to think that Stewart is clearly alone as the #4 guy as well, so picking him at 4 satisfies both need and BPA). As much as I wouldn't be a fan of it, if Bryant fell, I think the Twins have to take him if Appel/Gray are off the board. But once clear BPAs are gone, need should become a major factor in the decision making process.

      This is what disappointed me in last year's draft. Buxton was not clearly the BPA. There was no clear BPA. Had the Twins taken Appel, we'd be looking at a top 10 overall pitching prospect likely destroying AA/AAA right now, and we need that far more than we need Buxton.
    1. Cap'n Piranha's Avatar
      Cap'n Piranha -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      I get so sick of these discussions because BPA is incredibly subjective. Buxton was not universally considered BPA. Some looked at Appel, some Gausman, and apparently some thought it was Correa. It's one thing if everyone says "that guy is BPA" like Strasburg was a few years back, but beyond that, this argument gets really silly, as no one can even agree on what they value (such as pitchers being more valuable than hitters, etc) much less who is the best overall player.

      This is where need comes in. In this draft, there are 3 BPAs, that from what I can tell could fall in any order (I should note that I tend to think that Stewart is clearly alone as the #4 guy as well, so picking him at 4 satisfies both need and BPA). As much as I wouldn't be a fan of it, if Bryant fell, I think the Twins have to take him if Appel/Gray are off the board. But once clear BPAs are gone, need should become a major factor in the decision making process.

      This is what disappointed me in last year's draft. Buxton was not clearly the BPA. There was no clear BPA. Had the Twins taken Appel, we'd be looking at a top 10 overall pitching prospect likely destroying AA/AAA right now, and we need that far more than we need Buxton.
      Buxton, at 19 and in low A, is already being considered the number 2 prospect in all of baseball by some. He is a multi-year All-Star, with potential to have MVP type years, and make the HOF (not saying he will, but the talent and work ethic is there). Those types of players don't come along every year, so I think every Twins fan should be ecstatic with having Buck in the system.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      I get so sick of these discussions because BPA is incredibly subjective. Buxton was not universally considered BPA. Some looked at Appel, some Gausman, and apparently some thought it was Correa. It's one thing if everyone says "that guy is BPA" like Strasburg was a few years back, but beyond that, this argument gets really silly, as no one can even agree on what they value (such as pitchers being more valuable than hitters, etc) much less who is the best overall player.

      This is where need comes in. In this draft, there are 3 BPAs, that from what I can tell could fall in any order (I should note that I tend to think that Stewart is clearly alone as the #4 guy as well, so picking him at 4 satisfies both need and BPA). As much as I wouldn't be a fan of it, if Bryant fell, I think the Twins have to take him if Appel/Gray are off the board. But once clear BPAs are gone, need should become a major factor in the decision making process.

      This is what disappointed me in last year's draft. Buxton was not clearly the BPA. There was no clear BPA. Had the Twins taken Appel, we'd be looking at a top 10 overall pitching prospect likely destroying AA/AAA right now, and we need that far more than we need Buxton.
      To posters yes. To the Twins no.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      If the position player and pitcher are close, take the pitcher.
      This, to me, is the heart of it. As other responses have pointed out, BPA is not a clearly defined thing; I don't think it's "subjective" as one person put it, but it's definitely subject to great "uncertainty". In particular, you have only an estimate of a guy's floor, and an even less clear estimate of his ceiling. If your scouting is weak, you give everyone a high ceiling (could be a star) and a low floor (could be a bust). If you have good scouting, the estimates have more shape, but they still involve a lot of room, particularly for the HS players. You could end up graphing the results, looking something like this (quickest decent example I could locate, from a totally different context):
      Attachment 4237
      and if you are drafting high in the first round then maybe one bar like the one in the middle appeals to you, or maybe the one on the left with the higher floor seems like the wiser pick. You might resort to some further analysis regarding risk, to compute some kind of Expectation Value, and that might be the dots on that graph. If any player stands out like this, according to whatever your taste for risk, IMO you take him, regardless of position.

      However, once past the top 5, at most 10, the bars on the chart for the best players remaining will start to look awfully similar to each other. Then, you pick among those best, according to positional need. Again, IMO.

      This is why the debate of BPA vs Need always strike me as futile. You normally just don't know enough to really know who the BPA is, until about 10 seasons later. Buxton is turning out to be a great pick at #2 last year, kudos to the scouting team; locating a similar clearcut BPA at #4 will be tougher.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      To posters yes. To the Twins no.
      How do you actually go about comparing a pitcher to an offensive player? They have zero relevant skill sets in common.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      How do you actually go about comparing a pitcher to an offensive player? They have zero relevant skill sets in common.
      I don't know how deep of a question you mean by this, and you're not a newbie on this site so I don't mean condescension if I choose to go to basics.

      Even at the major league level, to compare established veterans runs into this same argument. And yet, front offices have to make these comparisons all the time, for instance in deciding whether to trade a center fielder for a stud starting pitching prospect. You have to have some analytic approach, even if only by long experience and seat-of-the-pants feeling, or you'll get fleeced. So it starts with trying to win the World Series every few years, which comes from winning lots of games over the course of many seasons, which comes from scoring runs and preventing the runs of your opponents, which comes from base hits and walks and homers and so forth... - each level you go down, you get further removed from actually winning championships, but closer to having things you can measure and expect to be repeatable. Hitters get hits and walks and homers, pitchers (and defenders) prevent them, and this forms some basis for comparison. WAR is one approach to this - you can construct others.

      And now if we're not talking about established major leaguers but college players and high-schoolers, in addition to the abstraction of WAR and/or raw stats versus actually winning championships, you have uncertainty. Not subjectiveness, IMO, but the uncertainty of there being a range of outcomes from drafting a guy. It just means your analytic approach needs to take this into account, rather than just throw up your hands and say anyone could turn into an All-Star if you coach him well enough. Your scouts take their best guess about projections (5 tools or whatever), your front office tries to turn these into guesstimates that turn into possible ranges of output, using WAR or just your best guess, from the guy over his career. And then you compare and decide which player gives you the most value.

      Did I completely misunderstand your question and waste typing this wall of words?
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      While experts might not agree who the exact BPA was last year obviously the Twins front office did. After spending a butt load of time and money they ended up taking a HS CFer over the three college arms. What does that tell you about their board? In the end who cares who Law or Callis or Sickels thinks is the best player? Not their jobs on the line.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Cap'n Piranha View Post
      Buxton, at 19 and in low A, is already being considered the number 2 prospect in all of baseball by some. He is a multi-year All-Star, with potential to have MVP type years, and make the HOF (not saying he will, but the talent and work ethic is there). Those types of players don't come along every year, so I think every Twins fan should be ecstatic with having Buck in the system.
      I'm not upset about Buck... You, however, are getting ahead of yourself. You can make that same statement about Gausman or Appel at this point.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      To posters yes. To the Twins no.
      It's likely less subjective to the Twins, but it's still very much a subjective measure. If it wasn't, there would be a lot less busts.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      How do you actually go about comparing a pitcher to an offensive player? They have zero relevant skill sets in common.
      True, but which on it's face is of more value. I'd argue that a pitcher, while pitching once every 5 games, has far more control on the outcome of the game than a hitter does over a 5 game period. While you cannot necessarily compare them apples to apples, it has more to do with what type of player they can be.
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