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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. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Plenty have questioned the coaching ability of various staff members. As none on this list have washed out with the Twins and went on to success elsewhere one could say it is not the coaching.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Would be interesting to see this with HS pitchers. From memory i dont remember any HS pitchers make the club.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      Would be interesting to see this with HS pitchers. From memory i dont remember any HS pitchers make the club.
      Latroy Hawkins and Brad Radke. Baseball reference has a page listing the primary starters and closers. Boof Bonser also came out of high school but not drafted by the Twins.
    1. jlovren's Avatar
      jlovren -
      I guess we could do the same thing with coaches in the minor league systems. I believe that while talent is 70% of the reason why prospects get to the bigs, I also believe that last 30% is the instruction and coaching they receive. Let's face it, we have had two legit big time bats on the club for a long time with Mauer and Morneau. You have to go all the way back to Kirby to name a consistent bat before them. Are the hitting coaches, swing coaches and basepath coaches doing their jobs? My answer is no. However, let me back that up by saying I have no stats, first hand knowledge or opinions from someone inside the game to support that. Although I would like to see Seth do a piece about that.
    1. PeanutsFromHeaven's Avatar
      PeanutsFromHeaven -
      I really appreciate this analysis. Growing up in a Rookie League town (out in the Pioneer League circuit) I saw a lot of guys who came in highly touted and suddenly realized that a hot streak didn't equate to getting the hell away from all the cows and towards an actual metropolis. I forget that lesson sometimes as a fan, and it helps to think about the patience everyone in the organization needs to have with young prospects.
      As for the coaches, I've got no idea, but thinking about it from an amateur coach/professional teacher perspective--not every teacher's style matches with every student. So, maybe the Twins coaches are a mismatch with some of the current generation of prospects, or maybe what works for guys like Mauer/Morneau/Revere takes longer to work for guys like Plouffe/Morales (again--no idea what kinds of guys those would be...this is pure, irresponsible, conjecture)
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by jlovren View Post
      Let's face it, we have had two legit big time bats on the club for a long time with Mauer and Morneau. You have to go all the way back to Kirby to name a consistent bat before them.
      I'd consider both Hunter and Koskie to be "consistent bats". Both had above league average bats for over a half decade.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by rocketpig View Post
      I'd consider both Hunter and Koskie to be "consistent bats". Both had above league average bats for over a half decade.
      And I'd add Kubel and Cuddyer, and Span could get there soon.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      And I'd add Kubel and Cuddyer, and Span could get there soon.
      Definitely... I was trying to point out guys that had their primes before Morneau or Mauer hit the bigs. All three of the guys you mentioned are pretty consistent bats.
    1. adjacent's Avatar
      adjacent -
      One aspect when drafting high schoolers that is not often mentioned is that they are teenagers. And like any other teenager sometimes they are not sure of what they really want to do. The article mention the case of Matt Moses, that he really did not care much. I don't know but that may be the case for many, like many other kids that start college, and after a year or two change major, sometimes several times. And it is OK, and it is nobody's fault. It is just the process of maturation. I am actually surprise to see that about 2/3 made it.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      It seems to me that Mauer marked a turning point--Twins did fairly well with HS draft picks until Mauer (Torii, AJ, Cuddy) and pretty poor with the exception of Span (and maybe Revere) since. Is the scouting staff different, is the minor league coaching different?? I also think Buxton has to be on a fast track as number 2 pick. It wll be disappointing if he is not up by Sept. 2016.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by adjacent View Post
      One aspect when drafting high schoolers that is not often mentioned is that they are teenagers. And like any other teenager sometimes they are not sure of what they really want to do. The article mention the case of Matt Moses, that he really did not care much. I don't know but that may be the case for many, like many other kids that start college, and after a year or two change major, sometimes several times. And it is OK, and it is nobody's fault. It is just the process of maturation. I am actually surprise to see that about 2/3 made it.
      You make a great point... I know I changed my major several times! Doesn't make them a bad person by any means.

      As for the 2/3 made it, I do need to re-emphasize that the same size was just 22 players drafted by the Twins among the Top 100 picks over a 15 year period from 1993 through 2007. I too was impressed that it was that high.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by DAM DC Twins Fans View Post
      It seems to me that Mauer marked a turning point--Twins did fairly well with HS draft picks until Mauer (Torii, AJ, Cuddy) and pretty poor with the exception of Span (and maybe Revere) since. Is the scouting staff different, is the minor league coaching different?? I also think Buxton has to be on a fast track as number 2 pick. It wll be disappointing if he is not up by Sept. 2016.
      That's why I did want to include the draft position in my chart. That said, I would mention that from all reports, Mauer was a much more polished hitter as a 17/18 year old than what Buxton is. Of course, he's yet to spend any time in a game yet, so it's far too early for any guarantees, but I think the September 2016 timeline seems fair.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      My problem with MN is they NEVER (sans Mauer) have recalled a player before their service time dictates it ( 5 yrs for HS). They are not quite as horrible for a college player, but close.
      Talent evaluation has changed over the past decade and that's why 19yr olds like Bryce Harper & Mike Trout are recalled cause they deserve it, not due to their age. The 2 players Buxton is compared to (BJ/Justin Upton) both made their MLB debut at age 19 also. Miguel Cabrera was 20 & didnt dominate minor league ball when he came up , but their is NO shot the Twins would do the same with Miguel Sano. Basically, I believe, MN tries to develop their players for their minor league system....not their major league system.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Cabrera was a 20 year old in AA with a slash line of .365/.429/.609 after 303 plate appearances. It was his 4th season in the minors. If Buxton performs similarly in 2015 at AA, I am certain the Twins will call him up for the end of the season.

      It will be up to Buxton and Sano to force their way into the majors like the players above. Sano started A-Ball at 18 this year, he can be in the majors to finish 2013. He will need to show significantly improved contact rate in and then dominate AA as Cabrera did. Based on his performance this year, I think it is more likely we will see him in 2014. Buxton isn't any different. It will be up to him. The Twins will not hold him back if he goes out and dominates.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by greengoblinrulz View Post
      My problem with MN is they NEVER (sans Mauer) have recalled a player before their service time dictates it ( 5 yrs for HS). They are not quite as horrible for a college player, but close.
      I guess I can't think of a situation where they should have in recent years.

      Talent evaluation has changed over the past decade and that's why 19yr olds like Bryce Harper & Mike Trout are recalled cause they deserve it, not due to their age. The 2 players Buxton is compared to (BJ/Justin Upton) both made their MLB debut at age 19 also. Miguel Cabrera was 20 & didnt dominate minor league ball when he came up , but their is NO shot the Twins would do the same with Miguel Sano.
      I'd say let the kid play and prove that he should be moved up. Sano isn't being kept in Beloit because the Twins are slow to promote prospects. He's staying in Beloit because he needs to improve. Buxton doesn't even have a minor league at bat yet. Let's let him get a few of those before we promote him. Comparisons for Buxton are the Uptons, but what if he becomes Mike Cameron instead (And that would be decent)... Let's let these guys play a little bit, mature a little bit and see how they move up. Pushing prospects is one thing. Pushing them too fast rarely works.

      Basically, I believe, MN tries to develop their players for their minor league system....not their major league system.
      I would 100%, wholeheartedly disagree with that statement.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      A comment was made to coaching being 30% of a player's development. As prospect rise through the ranks so do coaches. Brunansky got his start in the GCL, up to New Britain the Rochester. Jeff Smith and Jake Mauer have each been promoted. My questions would be wouldn't you want your best coaches at teaching fundamentals left in the lower levels if they have a proven aptitude there? Given the lack of development of starting pitching, shouldn't they be looking for some new pitching coaches?
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I think that's why Gary Lucas has been in Beloit for awhile now. That's probably why Jim Dwyer and Steve Mintz stay in Ft. Myers. The E-Twins coaching staff is terrific. With Brunansky, I think he experienced a little success at AA last year and hoped it would translate to AAA... It hasn't.
    1. 108 Double Stitches's Avatar
      108 Double Stitches -
      Interesting study. 68% seems like it would be difficult to maintain, but like a lot of good baseball studies, it gives numbers to ideas that we suspected anyway.

      One thought that came to me after reading this is that when speed is the primary tool of young players, they seem to get their opportunity a little earlier (and perhaps before they are as ready as the other prospects). Maybe just a secondary factor (maybe no factor at all), but iit appear to me that if speed is a big part of your game, the Twins are getting you your opportunity earlier that otherwise justified.

      Revere would fall into that category. Of the 3 fast trackers, he clearly doesn't feel like Mauer or Morneau, who were not only in the majors fast, but before too long picking up MVP support. Even though he doesn't figure into draft analysis, Carlos Gomez also seemed to be in the majors because his speed was there, but the rest of his game was behind the others early in their MLB careers. Speed is usually the first tool to depreciate, which would not only justify earlier first looks, but less concern over length of the contracts for this type of player. I maybe way off base on this, but just saying the study was provoking some other thoughts.

      The other extreme (not to beat this idea too far into the dirt) seems to apply to Morales and Plouffe. Speed is really of no significance to their career. So if the talent arrives later, its easiier to wait on them.
    1. MWLFan's Avatar
      MWLFan -
      Quote Originally Posted by greengoblinrulz View Post
      Basically, I believe, MN tries to develop their players for their minor league system....not their major league system.
      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.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Even though he doesn't figure into draft analysis, Carlos Gomez also seemed to be in the majors because his speed was there, but the rest of his game was behind the others early in their MLB careers.
      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.
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