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  • Patience Probable with Prep Picks

    Since the Twins drafted outfielder Byron Buxton with the second overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, the question I hear most is, ďWhen do you think we will see Buxton in a Minnesota Twins uniform?Ē We can all venture our guesses bases on what weíve read about an 18 year old, but no one knows. He could come up as a 20 year old in 2014, as a 24 year old in 2018, or he may never make it up to the big league club.

    Another question I have heard frequently over the last two years is when we will see Aaron Hicks and if he is behind schedule, whatever who whoeverís schedule that is.

    Is there a lot of risk drafting high school hitters early in the draft? How have the Twins done when they have drafted high school bats?

    My hope in this article is not to necessarily answer those questions because, again, we donít know what the end story will be for any individual. By the end of this article, hopefully you will be able to see a bit of information to help you project when we might expect to see Buxton, Hicks or other high school draftees.

    Methodology

    Ben Revere was drafted by the Twins in 2007 out of Lexington Catholic High School in Kentucky. He debuted with the Twins in September of 2010, three-and-a-half years after being drafted. My assumption as I prepared this data was that Revere was on a very fast track. That is where I started the search. I looked at all high school hitters drafted by the Twins in the first 100 picks of their respective drafts. Although anyone drafted or signing with an affiliate technically have a chance to make the big leagues, many believe that the Top 100 picks is where most of the future big leaguers are selected.

    Between 1993 and 2007 (15 drafts), the Twins selected 22 high school hitters in the Top 100 picks of the drafts. Fifteen of the twenty-two have reached the big leagues. Obviously there is a wide range of big league success, but that is an impressive 68.1% Six to eight of those 22 players have had a significant level of big league success.

    With that, I put together a chart showing when the players was drafted (including overall pick #), when they made their big league debut, when they became a regular big leaguer, how many Major League plate appearances they have accumulated, and finally, what level did a player who didnít make the big leagues get?
    Player Draft Year (Pick) MLB Debut Regular MLB PA's No MLB - Hi Level
    Ben Revere 2007 (28) 9/7/2010 2011 656
    Danny Rams 2007 (92) Current - FM
    Chris Parmelee 2006 (20) 9/6/2011 192
    Joe Benson 2006 (64) 9/6/2011 74
    Henry Sanchez 2005 (39) 09 - Beloit
    Paul Kelly 2005 (54) 11 - Ft. Myers
    Drew Thompson 2005 (80) 10 - FM, '11 WS
    Trevor Plouffe 2004 (20) 5/21/2010 2012 540
    Matt Moses 2003 (21) 09 - Rochester
    Denard Span 2002 (20) 4/6/2008 2008 2380
    Joe Mauer 2001 (1) 4/5/2004 2005 4169
    Jose Morales 2001 (77) 9/8/2007 2009 252
    BJ Garbe 1999 (5) 06 - New Britain
    Rob Bowen 1999 (56) 9/1/2003 2006 439
    Justin Morneau 1999 (89) 6/10/2003 2004 4447
    Michael Cuddyer 1997 (9) 9/23/2001 2004 4812
    Michael Restovich 1997 (61) 9/18/2002 297
    Cleatus Davidson 1994 (42) 5/30/1999 24
    AJ Pierzynski 1994 (71) 9/9/1998 2001 5939
    Torii Hunter 1993 (20) 8/22/1997 1999 7510
    Kelcey Mucker 1993 (38) 99 - New Britain
    Javier Valentin 1993 (93) 9/28/1997 1998 1663

    NEVER MADE IT

    Along with the 68% of these 22 players making it to be the big leaguers comes the 32% chance that a Top 100 draft choice never sees the major leagues. This could be for many reasons. For example, Paul Kelly and Drew Thompson just could not stay on the field. They were hurt. Both had big league talent. Mucker and Garbe were good athletes that just plateaued. Sanchez had huge power but couldnít make contact. He also couldnít stay out of trouble. Moses was talented, but many believed he just didnít care about baseball all that much. There are many reasons that players donít get to the big leagues, and this small group of seven illustrates that well. (Note Ė Danny Rams is still playing with the Ft. Myers Miracle, hitting .136 on the season.)

    ON THE FAST TRACK

    Three players on this list were on what I would consider the fast track. Joe Mauer was starting on Opening Day in 2004, two-and-a-half years after he was the #1 overall pick in 2001. He signed and played in Elizabethton in 2001. He spent all of 2002 in Quad Cities (Low A). He started 2003 in Ft. Myers and played the second half in New Britain.

    Ben Revere was drafted in 2007 and played in the GCL that year. He spent all of 2008 in Beloit, where he hit .379. He spent all of 2009 in Ft. Myers and hit .311. In 2010, he hit. 305 in New Britain before his September call-up. Revere spent three-and-a-half seasons in the minors before his debut. He didnít spend much time in the minors in 2011 before being a starter for the Twins. He also got a little bit of time in Rochester in 2012.

    Justin Morneau was the Twins 3rd round pick in 1999, and he debuted with the Twins almost exactly four years after signing with the Twins, on June 10, 2003. He was regular by the All Star break in 2004, shortly before the Twins traded Doug Mientkiewicz at the deadline. More impressive, he played in the Gulf Coast League in 1999 and 2000. In 2001, he spent time in Quad Cities and Ft. Myers before ending the season with ten games in New Britain. He spent all of 2002 in New Britain which is where he started the 2003 season. He moved up to Rochester, and by July, he was up with the Twins. He spent 72 more games in 2004 in Rochester before being called up for good.

    (Side Note - Jason Kubel was a 12th round pick in 2000. He debuted with the Twins in August of 2004, just over four years after signing, despite spending 2000 and 2001 in the GCL.)

    AVERAGE ADVANCEMENT

    Of the 15 (in our sample of 22) that made it to the big leagues ten of them debuted between four-and-a-half and five-and-a-half years. The common denominator in this group is that the players went back to the minor leagues after their debut. Rob Bowen and Javier Valentin came up within four-and-a-half years, and it wasnít long before they were backup catchers in the big leagues. Torii Hunter came up from AA just four-and-a-half years after he was drafted, but he played in just one game (as a pinch runner) before going back to the minors. In fact, he played in just six games for the Twins the following year. And, two years after that, he was infamously returned to the minor leagues when he figured things out. He came up for good after that. Michael Cuddyer came up after four-and-a-half years too, and it took him three years to become a regular.

    Cleatus Davidson came up five years after he was drafted. He spent a little time as a utility infielder for the Twins and never played with the big league club again. AJ Pierzynski didnít hit his first chance for five-and-a-half years, and he spent plenty more time over the next two seasons in the minor leagues before staying up for good. Michael Restovich took five-and-a-half years too, and he only got minimal time with the Twins over the next three seasons. He was a part-time big leaguers for several more years but never became a regular. Denard Span rarely put up numbers during his five-and-a-half years in the minor leagues before his debut. Thatís why the Twins wanted to get a centerfielder in the Johan Santana trade. But Span got his chance just days after the start of the 2008 season. He was sent back down, but it wasnít long before he came up as a regular and heís outperformed his minor league numbers ever since. Chris Parmelee and Joe Benson were each in the minor leagues for five-and-a-half years before their September call-ups last year. I donít think that either would be called a big league regular at this time, but both still have the youth and potential to become just that.

    EXTREME PATIENCE

    Jose Morales was in the minor leagues for six-and-a-half years before he was called up to the Twins in 2007. He had three hits in his big league debut, and was injured on a slide and missed the rest of that season and plenty of time the following year. He showed some glimpses that he could be a decent backup.

    Trevor Plouffe did not make his Major League debut for six years after he was drafted in 2004. His is an interesting case. After the draft, he spent the season in Elizabethton. He spent all of 2005 in Beloit where he hit just .223 but was promoted to Ft. Myers for the 2006 season. There, he hit just .246. In 2007, he found himself in New Britain as a 21 year old. He hit .274 with 48 extra base hits, and yet in 2008, he was back with the Rock Cats. He split 2008 before New Britain and Rochester. He spent all of 2009 in Rochester. In 2010, he was back in Rochester, and hit .244. However, in June, the Twins had a need and Plouffe made his big league debut. He put up major power numbers for Rochester in 2011 and played in 81 games for the Twins. We know of his early-season struggles with the Twins in 2012. Based on his hot streak the last month, can we now call him a regular, about eight years after he was drafted?

    SUMMARY NOTES

    So, when people ask me when I would guess we will see Byron Buxton playing for the Minnesota Twins, I think Iíll guess the average of the above, five years. That would mean he would debut with the Twins around June of 2017, but it will likely be September of either 2016 or 2017.

    Is Aaron Hicks behind schedule? He was the #1 pick in June of 2008. Five years would be about June of 2013. He is at AA right now, and he needs to be added to the 40 man roster after this season, so itís possible he gets called up in September this year. So now, he is not behind schedule. Heís on a pretty normal schedule.

    Finally, I so often hear some fans make judgements quickly on a player who comes up for his debut, struggles and is sent down. I never understand that because, in reality, very few come up, make their debut and stay in the big leagues forever. It's normal to have some struggles, get sent back down, work on some things, come back up, and rinse and repeat. Obviously the better a player is able to make adjustments, the more likely he is to eventually become a quality regular.

    You can do the same math with 2010 second-round pick Niko Goodrum and 2011 supplemental first round pick Travis Harrison. Yet no one knows. Will Harrison be on the Ben Revere path, or the Michael Cuddyer path, or the Trevor Plouffe path, or the BJ Garbe path? We donít know. There are no givens in minor league baseball, and thatís part of makes it so fun to follow.

    This article was originally published in blog: Patience Probable with Prep Picks started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 36 Comments
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by MWLFan View Post
      As a person who goes to a lot of Minor League games I disagree with this whole heartedly. I missed seeing Morneau in Quad Cities and Manship in Beloit by a week because they moved up before the season ended. I see what is happening with Madison Boer who was the opening day starter in Beloit and has struggled in FM and wonder why he didn't stay down for half a season. I read a lot of Jim Mandelero in Rochester and I think Red Wing fans would laugh, maybe cry, at that statement.

      The Twins final end game is to get these guys to be productive Major Leaguers to the best of their abilities. Down the food chain we need to accept that we are stepping stones and as Mongo from Blazing Saddles would, "Just pawns in game of life." Now how good the Twins are at reaching that end game is debatable, but no one is developing Sano or Buxton to top out at Rochester. Also that some of these guys don't make it is not always the fault of the organization or the coaches or the front office, some personal responsibilty needs to be put on the individual here. These kids, and the are kids, have been given talents and opportunities that us less gifted and more robust shall we say dream of. It is a test of not only physical skills but will and attitude to make through E-Town, Beloit, New Britian and Rochester. We only see the product on the field, but the rest of life is what can trip the players up big time. Some like Josh Hamilton and Sean Burroughs survive the demons to play another day in the sun, most have their moments and move on to some other path knowing they gave it a shot and it didn't work out, some leave angry and confused about why they aren't Strasburg or Trout and blame the coaches and organization, and some drop off the radar and lose themselves like Brien Taylor. Unlike the other sports in or culture baseball is life in many ways.
      Extroidanary post... These kids are kids... Its up to them... It's not like the Twins coaches are telling them anything different than the Rays coaches are. Yeah some organizational creeds can vary but the prospect has to learn to hit his pitch and pitch his pitch and its the same on every club. Every coach should be able to spot a hitch or bad pitching mechanics and point it out and throw BP to try and correct but in the end it comes down to the player working on correcting it. Buying in... Kids come out of HS with bad stuff and get away with it. They hit the pros and they can't get away with it anymore. They don't know why but they will continue to do what they do until the light bulb goes on... It takes elbow grease and the coaches are working at it and talking about it. Now the player has to do it and some just don't get the connection.

      The game is real simple that way.

      They have to get used to the changing game speed and grow. Every once in awhile a Trout or Harper comes along but they are not the norm. This is why High round picks fail. They don't adapt or grow.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Carlos Gomez may be a perfect example of why rushing players is not always for the best, and I would argue most likely for the worst. Gomez came to the Twins having spent about 1/2 of the previous season with the Mets. Not because he was ready, but because of injury and the Mets philosophy at that time of pushing certain prospects (see Mulvey, Kevin and Guerra, Deolis as well). I imagine if Gomez would have been in the Twins system, he would have just been getting to AA, developing appropriately and instead of having spent four years struggling in the big leagues to this point, maybe he would have come up two years later and been fully developed and turned into what people thought he would.
      A perfect example and I still want Gomez back. What a complete failure by the Twins Organization. Gomez is freakishly talented and we wasted him and Santana at the same time. He was in the bigs way too soon but they felt they had to show something for Johan.
    1. PMKI's Avatar
      PMKI -
      Didn't want to start a new thread for this but I heard somewhere that when we were trading Johan we could have got Matt Kemp. I'm just wondering if this is true? I realize that Kemp may not have turned into what he is now but I'm just curious.
    1. Paul's Avatar
      Paul -
      MWLFan, Seth and Riverbrian,

      I think this is a first. I can't remember reading 4 posts in a row on this site that had this level of intelligence and insightfulness rather than emotion and incitefulness.

      Thank you.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
      MWLFan, Seth and Riverbrian,

      I think this is a first. I can't remember reading 4 posts in a row on this site that had this level of intelligence and insightfulness rather than emotion and incitefulness.

      Thank you.
      I can consider that a compliment... thanks!!
    1. Paul's Avatar
      Paul -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I can consider that a compliment... thanks!!
      You're welcome and deserving!
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
      MWLFan, Seth and Riverbrian,

      I think this is a first. I can't remember reading 4 posts in a row on this site that had this level of intelligence and insightfulness rather than emotion and incitefulness.

      Thank you.
      The record is 5 in a row... It was Seth and Twinsnorth exchanging back and forth on something.

      Speaking of North... Where has he been? We need our Canada influence... The site isn't the same without it.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by PMKI View Post
      Didn't want to start a new thread for this but I heard somewhere that when we were trading Johan we could have got Matt Kemp. I'm just wondering if this is true? I realize that Kemp may not have turned into what he is now but I'm just curious.
      Unfortunately no... there was a lot of Kemp/Kershaw/LaRoche talk for Santana as the Dodgers were natural partners, but Santana and his NTC dictated where he would go, and it was New York or Boston.
    1. jtrinaldi's Avatar
      jtrinaldi -
      I hate it how slow the Twins are with their upper Echelon MILB/young signee prep talent. Here are a few examples of similar upside to Buxton over the last few years. These were all top 5 picks, Buxton will likely reach A ball to start 2014 if the Twins continue to keep players for 2 years in E-Town/GCL (Kepler Goodrum) and likely Boyd and Harrison
      Manny Machado Drafted in 2010 made A Ball debut in 2011
      Tim Beckham Drafted in 2008 made A ball debut in 2009
      Mike Moustakas Drafted in 2007 made A ball debut in 2008
      Josh Vitters Drafted in 2007 made A ball debut in 2009 (played 4 games in A ball in 2008)
    1. fetch's Avatar
      fetch -
      Quote Originally Posted by jtrinaldi View Post
      I hate it how slow the Twins are with their upper Echelon MILB/young signee prep talent. Here are a few examples of similar upside to Buxton over the last few years. These were all top 5 picks, Buxton will likely reach A ball to start 2014 if the Twins continue to keep players for 2 years in E-Town/GCL (Kepler Goodrum) and likely Boyd and Harrison
      Manny Machado Drafted in 2010 made A Ball debut in 2011
      Tim Beckham Drafted in 2008 made A ball debut in 2009
      Mike Moustakas Drafted in 2007 made A ball debut in 2008
      Josh Vitters Drafted in 2007 made A ball debut in 2009 (played 4 games in A ball in 2008)
      Buxton is a lot different from Goodrum and (especially) Kepler
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jtrinaldi View Post
      I hate it how slow the Twins are with their upper Echelon MILB/young signee prep talent. Here are a few examples of similar upside to Buxton over the last few years. These were all top 5 picks, Buxton will likely reach A ball to start 2014 if the Twins continue to keep players for 2 years in E-Town/GCL (Kepler Goodrum) and likely Boyd and Harrison
      Manny Machado Drafted in 2010 made A Ball debut in 2011
      Tim Beckham Drafted in 2008 made A ball debut in 2009
      Mike Moustakas Drafted in 2007 made A ball debut in 2008
      Josh Vitters Drafted in 2007 made A ball debut in 2009 (played 4 games in A ball in 2008)
      Kepler and Goodrum were extremely raw prospects when signed and they didn't exactly earn a promotion. Harrison and boyd are sandwich picks and are not comparable (or even close) to Buxton or the other top 5 picks that you mentioned. Buxton will almost certainly make his A ball debut in 2013 and I wouldn't be shocked if he made it there this year.

      It's easy to be critical of the pace that young hitters (HS and intl) are promoted but you need talent and results to earn a promotion. Moses, Parmelee and Hicks were the only highly regarded HS bats (at the time of the draft) that the Twins have taken since Mauer and they didn't exactly push for promotions. You could include Plouffe/Span in that list but I don't recall scouts really loving their bats at the time of the draft.
    1. jtrinaldi's Avatar
      jtrinaldi -
      Quote Originally Posted by kab21 View Post
      Kepler and Goodrum were extremely raw prospects when signed and they didn't exactly earn a promotion. Harrison and boyd are sandwich picks and are not comparable (or even close) to Buxton or the other top 5 picks that you mentioned. Buxton will almost certainly make his A ball debut in 2013 and I wouldn't be shocked if he made it there this year.

      It's easy to be critical of the pace that young hitters (HS and intl) are promoted but you need talent and results to earn a promotion. Moses, Parmelee and Hicks were the only highly regarded HS bats (at the time of the draft) that the Twins have taken since Mauer and they didn't exactly push for promotions. You could include Plouffe/Span in that list but I don't recall scouts really loving their bats at the time of the draft.
      I think Buxton is fairly comparable to Bubba Starling talent wise, and a lot more advanced than Hicks was ever thought to be. I could see Buxton coming to class A in June or July next year (similar to Hicks timeline) just so they can get him through Extended and make sure that he is ready.
    1. fetch's Avatar
      fetch -
      Buxton is a lot more advanced than Starling too
    1. SweetOne69's Avatar
      SweetOne69 -
      Kepler was signed @ 16 and started is career @ 17. He is currently 19 and in E-town.
    1. jtrinaldi's Avatar
      jtrinaldi -
      Quote Originally Posted by fetch View Post
      Buxton is a lot more advanced than Starling too
      No he is not,even Keith Law said in his chats that the first guy in this years draft would have been picked 7th or 8th in last years. Lets not start over rating our prospects here....
    1. fetch's Avatar
      fetch -
      Quote Originally Posted by jtrinaldi View Post
      No he is not,even Keith Law said in his chats that the first guy in this years draft would have been picked 7th or 8th in last years. Lets not start over rating our prospects here....
      "advanced" and "better" aren't the same thing.
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