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  • Jonathan Mayo on Minnesota Twins Prospects - Part 3

    Recently I had the opportunity to interview to MLB.com senior writer Jonathan Mayo about the Minnesota Twins farm system. In Part 1 of that interview, we talked about Aaron Hicks and Kyle Gibson, while Part 2 concentrated on Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. In the final part of the three part series, we talk about the 2014 MLB Draft, whether Josmil Pinto is the Twins answer behind the plate, Trevor May’s future and where you can find some of the Twins top prospects in 2014.

    CF – What do you think of the depth of the upcoming MLB Draft, how deep is it in comparison to past years?

    JM – From what I can tell, a lot can change in the spring, but early indications are that it seems to be stronger than last year and overall a pretty good class. It looks like there is going to be some very good talent. I mean there always is, but it does seem like it’s going to be a strong class for teams to consider.

    CF – Are there any particular players or positions that the Twins are targeting that you know of?

    JM – They’ve always been looking at the best available player. A lot of teams say that, but that’s how the Twins actually do it. The Twins pick fifth in the upcoming draft, and they’ve been known to go in any number of different directions. When you’re picking that high you’re always going to get a good player, but there are a lot of possibilities. There is a lot of good college pitching, although the top two guys might be gone by the time they pick.

    They could go in any direction, but this all depends on who performs well in the spring, and what they like. There’s a really good high school catcher from California. There’s a really, really good college shortstop at NC State, Trey Turner. There are a lot of good players out there. They will take whoever they feel like is the best available when they’re picking; I think that’s who they are going to take. They aren’t going to not take a guy because they already have enough players in the system.

    CF – Should people expect that Josmil Pinto would be able to be the every day catcher for the Twins now that Joe Mauer has moved to first base?

    JM – He’s always hit, had some struggles early on but made adjustments. I like his walk rate. Everything points to his ability to be an every day guy. I don’t know much about his overall defensive ability other than the fact that he can throw.

    It’s funny that there are all of these offensive-minded catchers that have incredible arm strength. I was just writing about Gary Sanchez, the Yankees prospect. There’s always been a question about his catching, although he’s improved, but he’s got a ridiculous arm. I think that he’s got a chance, and it’s not like they moved Mauer to make room for Pinto, they move Mauer to first to preserve his bat.

    That being said, they probably saw enough from him in AA & AAA to think, “Well maybe we stumbled on to something, and we're able to develop something.” I think that he’s got a chance if he can handle the rigors of handling a big league pitching staff, and that aspect of the game. I wouldn’t go nuts, this wasn’t a guy that was highly regarded or groomed in the sense that “Oh when Pinto’s ready we’ll have to move Joe Mauer.” It doesn’t always work that way, sometimes the guys that are hyped don’t always pan out to be what you thought, and sometimes the guys that you think are organizational guys suddenly figure things out, he may be one of those guys.

    Catching especially, there are so many things that have to work for you to get to that, it takes a different kind of individual to become an everyday catcher at the big league level. You never know when a highly touted guy is going to flame out because he just can’t put it all together, or when a guy who’s been toiling away, finally figures it out.

    CF – Trevor May is a guy who’s been pretty inconsistent and was a big part of the Ben Revere trade, and was well regarded in the Phillies organization. Is this the year he finally breaks through? He’s always had the strikeouts, but is he getting lost in the shuffle with all of the other prospects?

    JM – Maybe at some point they consider shortening him up and making him a reliever, but he can’t throw strikes. That’s been his biggest problem, and he kind of regressed. He’s 24, will be for the entire season - there’s still time, but it seems like every time he’s making progress he kind of stalls or regresses a little bit. That happens with power guys.

    It’s also kind of weird because he’s a fastball, changeup guy. I’m not sure what you do with that. You usually don’t have a guy coming out of the bullpen with a breaking ball as an out pitch, unless you have Trevor Hoffman’s changeup, and he doesn’t.

    I think this is a big year for him, I think he needs to go out and show that he can throw consistent strikes. He was in the Arizona Fall League, and threw mostly relief innings, I’m not sure if that’s because he threw 150 innings during the season or they want to have him throw his slider over and over again, or “let’s get a look at him as a reliever”. I don’t know the answer for sure. I think this is the year that he needs to show that he can command the strike zone enough to be a starter, or he needs to move to the bullpen.

    He clearly can miss bats, but it’s a question of strikes, and whether he can maintain his velocity, which is why you don’t want to give up on him. It’s not like he’s going out throwing three innings at 95 MPH and then the next throwing 89. He doesn’t get tired and he doesn’t lose velocity but if it gets to a time that his inability to command the baseball, and his breaking stuff is fringy, you’re not going to have a future as a starter.

    Those things need to improve in order for him to stay there. It’ll be interesting to see where he is in the spring. If he comes out of the bullpen, and then the Twins are saying that he can help us out of the bullpen, then he could impact the big league club this coming year.

    CF – I’d like to rattle off a few names and you tell me where you believe they will start the 2014 season.

    Miguel Sano?

    JM – New Britain. I think with how Sano hit in New Britain, the power was there, but he didn’t hit and his walk rate wasn’t terrible and the strikeout rate was higher as well. Could he show up to Spring Training [and] he wows everyone so much that he starts the year in Rochester? Yeah, but I think there would be no harm, given how young he is, to start the year in New Britain, set the Eastern League on fire, and then move up to Rochester.

    He’s still very very young and enormous. 6 foot 3, 195 is what he’s listed at, and both of those are off, and from a while ago. The first couple of times I saw him he was like a man-child, he was so enormous and not in a bad way. He’s one of those guys that the bat looks like a tooth pick in his hands. Unbelievable.

    Eddie Rosario?

    JM – After the suspension? He’ll probably have to start doing some sort of rehab depending on the timing of it, but I’ll say New Britain also.

    Alex Meyer ?

    JM – Rochester

    Byron Buxton?

    JM – New Britain

    Kohl Stewart?

    Cedar Rapids

    Jose Berrios?

    Fort Myers

    Thanks to Jonathan Mayo for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak to me. Make sure to check out his Top 100 prospect list on January 23rd at 10pm on the MLB Network, and then see the full list available on MLB.com. You can also find the first two parts of this interview here and here.
    This article was originally published in blog: Jonathan Mayo on Minnesota Twins Prospects - Part 3 started by Christopher Fee
    Comments 14 Comments
    1. twinstalker's Avatar
      twinstalker -
      Trea Turner looks to stay at shortstop. I would be shocked if the Twins passed on him. Having trouble remembering the last top ten college middle infielder to succeed, though (or to even be top ten drafted).
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      Tulo was a college SS drafted in the top 10.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      They’ve always been looking at the best available player. A lot of teams say that, but that’s how the Twins actually do it.
      LOVE this line.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinstalker View Post
      Trea Turner looks to stay at shortstop. I would be shocked if the Twins passed on him. Having trouble remembering the last top ten college middle infielder to succeed, though (or to even be top ten drafted).
      Here is a list that I find shocking. All the college position players the Twins drafted in the top 10 rounds from 1999 on, excluding the last 2 years, because it is too early to tell:

      Levi Michael, Tyler Grimes, Adam Bryant, Derek McCallum, Nick Lockwood, Tyler Ladendorf, Brian Dinkelman, Steven Tolleson, Matt Scanlon, Tagg Bozied, Kelley Gulledge, Doug Deeds, Johnny Woodard, Caleb Moore, Eric Lis, Matt Betsill , Whitney Robbins, Garrett Olson, Jeff Christy, Danny Lehmann, Nick Romero, Jeff Lanning, Mike Gonzales, Evan Bigley, Tobias Streich, Blake Dean, Lance Ray

      and

      Chris Herrmann, Brian Dozier (the jury is still out with those 2)

      I just don't see it happening.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      It's early. I'll say it again, it's early. Baseball America's and MLB.com's "top 100" lists change a lot as players get another year in front of scouts.

      But, at this point...if the draft was today. Carlos Rodon is #1...then who knows. I'm not a big fan of Hoffman or Beede yet. Still have control/command issues of the pitches they have, much less to develop another one, as needed for MLB.

      I like Trea Turner. I also like Aaron Nola (LSU) pitcher and Sean Newcomb (LHP) from Hartford. Then I'd look at Kyle Schwarber (C/1B) of Indiana.

      The Twins drafted Dustin DeMuth (8th RD) last year out of Indiana, curious if they'd try to go after him again, although, likely at a higher pick this year.

      From the high school scene, I'm very curious about how Tyler Kolek (Texas), Touki Toussant (FL), Michael Gettys (GA), and Braxton Davidson (NC) will develop.

      Gettys, is another GA OF athletic type in the mold of Buxton. Meadows, and Frazier.

      Nola, to me is the closest to MLB, could easily pull a "Wacha" in my mind. Or Ben McDonald or Dylan Bundy and be in the pros by the end of 2014 or by midseason 2015 if the team wants him on the big club. IMO< he's very likely to hit his ceiling, and equally as likely to land at "Brad Radke" level.

      If I had to draft today, I'd hope for Nola, Newcomb, Turner, or Kolek. And probably in that order.
    1. Tibs's Avatar
      Tibs -
      Buxton and Sano both at New Britain would be pretty cool
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Regarding thrylos's list above: if you excluded the first ten 1st round picks each year, every single team's list of position players drafted through ten rounds of the draft from 1999 through 2011 would look pretty much identically "shocking". Not sure what the list tells us. Are position players in general are a poor gamble in the first ten rounds? Are position players that much more of a gamble than pitchers? Are the Twins especially inept at picking position players? To buy that argument, I'd have to see better support than a list in a vacuum like thrylos posted here containing no comparative info. To argue honestly in support of the last theory, you'd have to factor in and account for advantages associated with a team's draft order. A very small percentage of players drafted after the second round, by ANY team, ever see the big leagues, right? But 70% of picks 1-10 make it, 50% of picks 11-20 make it, and only 25% of picks 20-31 make it, according to the last analysis I know many of us read. (I think, by a BP contributor). The Twins had zero 1-10 first round selections over this span, and maybe a couple in the 11-20 range, right?

      BTW, there may be some names missing from the list. Mauer for instance?
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      My bad, just clicked that the list is restricted to college prospects only. Still am not sure what we can garner from it, as no one was of the Trea Turner quality for sure.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Birdwatcher,

      Good to add context. Some things may sound 'bad' but in context aren't so bad, the guy who only gets it 'right' 3 out of 10 times doesn't sound so good, unless you say he's a MLB hitter.

      I tend to be a little more scrupulous when it comes to college hitters. There's a lot more statistics available and games to go off of.

      If a major college hitter (position player) can't absolutely rake it, .380 avg, or mash it, 14<x AB/HR ratio, and have a at least 1.2 BB/SO ratio, I wouldn't draft him in the top 10 rounds - unless I'd have multiple scouts telling me, "this guy can hit MLB pitching", I'd try my go at pitching or high school players.

      The Levi Michael's, Tyler Grimes', Adam Bryant's, Lance Ray's, Tobias Streich's, Nick Romero's, Whit Robbins', Garrett Olson's, and the Steven Tolleson's of the world, I feel, can be avoided. That is, sure, take a flyer on these guys after round 10.

      **I do need to try to find some players who don't meet my criteria, who did well.

      Brian Dozier, had a very low K rate, met the 1.2 BB/K rate...although didn't quite rake it , hit .355. He's just outside the cut. Ironically, it's his power that's shown in MLB.

      Adam Bret Walker, wouldn't make the cut. Power was 15.7 AB/HR, hit .359 though, and his BB/K rate was near .5-ish.

      Nate Roberts is just outside the cut, although, his stats are not at a major college.
      1.09 BB/K, .372 avg, 17.14 AB/HR. He could be a hitter in MLB. Led the AFL in hitting in 2012, was injured in 2013.

      I haven't accumulated enough data points to optimize what the best combo of those 3 would be just yet.
    1. Joe A. Preusser's Avatar
      Joe A. Preusser -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tibs View Post
      Buxton and Sano both at New Britain would be pretty cool
      I had this same exact thought. How cool is it that 2 guys out of 9 can wins a bunch of games ALL BY THEMSELVES.

      If they stay half the year in AA the Rock Cats will have the best record in the league.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Steve Tolleson has had a few big league stints... I'd take that from anyone outside the first round. It's rare.

      A lot of those guys (Ray, Robbins, Bryant, etc.) missed time due to injury. Hard to know what would happen/will happen/could happen with health. Jury is still out on Nate Roberts.
    1. ScottyB's Avatar
      ScottyB -
      As far as shortstops go, the Twins basically have NEVER drafted and signed a player who stuck at that position in the majors for any length of time. They have drafted shortstops who have succeeded at other positions (i.e. Cuddyer and Knoblauch). But in the full history of the draft the top four shortstops the Twins have drafted in terms of games played at shortstop for the Twins are Pat Meares (737), Danny Thompson (468), Brian Dozier (83) and Trevor Plouffe (55). Virtually all other starting shortstops came via trade or before the draft existed (Zoilo Versalles).
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by ScottyB View Post
      As far as shortstops go, the Twins basically have NEVER drafted and signed a player who stuck at that position in the majors for any length of time. They have drafted shortstops who have succeeded at other positions (i.e. Cuddyer and Knoblauch). But in the full history of the draft the top four shortstops the Twins have drafted in terms of games played at shortstop for the Twins are Pat Meares (737), Danny Thompson (468), Brian Dozier (83) and Trevor Plouffe (55). Virtually all other starting shortstops came via trade or before the draft existed (Zoilo Versalles).
      That is one dead sexy list of shortstops. Combine them into one and you'd have a player slightly better than Mario Mendoza.
    1. oldguy10's Avatar
      oldguy10 -
      And speaking of Mendoza isn't it quite possible that Florimon is a clone of Mario's? With the bat to a tee I am thinking.
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