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Article: Twins Draft Preview: Tyler Kolek

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 11:33 PM

You can view the page at http://www.twinsdail...iew-Tyler-Kolek

#2 AM.

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 06:49 AM

He seems to have the highest upside of anyone in the draft. If he falls to the Twins, I hope they select him, to make it three straight years of snagging "highest upside." That's what you should be doing with these picks.

If he is gone, my vote, which counts for nothing, is Nola. He has a lower ceiling, but not really that much lower (although a different way of getting there), and to me seems like the risks are considerably lower with Nola.

#3 tobi0040

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 07:17 AM

He seems to have the highest upside of anyone in the draft. If he falls to the Twins, I hope they select him, to make it three straight years of snagging "highest upside." That's what you should be doing with these picks.

If he is gone, my vote, which counts for nothing, is Nola. He has a lower ceiling, but not really that much lower (although a different way of getting there), and to me seems like the risks are considerably lower with Nola.


As far as I am concerned, sign this kid up. Would it really be a tragedy if five years from now his velocity dipped from 100 to 97-98? Give me upside here and the chance at a front line starter. #3 starters can be purchased in free agency, front line starters can't. Heck, we signed two #3 starters last off-season without breaking the bank and we had an offer for Garza (2 or 3 starter) that was the highest AAV offer, reportedly.

#4 mike wants wins

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 07:25 AM

Fast fastball is not that hard to hit, if it is straight and if he doesn't have a breaking ball. I'd be ok with it, but I'm not sure just throwing hard is enough.

#5 Willihammer

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 07:34 AM

A fast fastball is hard to hit though. Anything 96+ you can throw straight as an arrow, in the zone, and still miss bats.

To be able to throw in the zone and still miss bats - that's the holy grail.

If he falls, we have to take him.

#6 zenser

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 07:49 AM

A fast fastball is hard to hit though. Anything 96+ you can throw straight as an arrow, in the zone, and still miss bats.


I tend to agree with this with the exception of Kyle Farnsworth. His fastball is a straight as they come and he can get roughed up.

#7 Seth Stohs

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 07:58 AM

Kolek appears to be a polarizing potential draft pick...

I think he's an arm surgery waiting to happen, but that kind of velocity is rare. That said, 80% of big league hitters can hit 97 and straight. He will need to add one more pitch to become a potential power closer. He will need to add two more pitches to become a potential dominant starting pitcher.

I still lean to Nola because I think he has upside too. I think I would take Nola over Gordon though... maybe.

#8 Willihammer

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 07:59 AM

http://www.baseballp...articleid=22139

#9 gunnarthor

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:02 AM

If he's there at #5, I can't see the Twins passing on him. I think Beede is the only pitcher that scares me more than Kolek but the Twins won't pass on him. But he won't be there either.

#10 mike wants wins

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:03 AM

Cool article! Thanks willihammer.
Lighten up Francis....

#11 jimbo92107

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:09 AM

Depends what kind of game you want to play. Today all we really know about Kolek is that he's a big, strong kid that can throw a baseball incredibly fast. Can he learn to control a curve, slider, change, etc? If not, he's a closer you took with the fifth pick in the draft. Can he maintain his incredible velocity without hurting his arm? His mechanics look good, but that kind of speed can wreck an arm in a hurry. If he becomes a mid to low 90's guy with not much for secondary pitches, what a wasted pick.

Then you've got Aaron Nola, one of those guys with a smooth, easy whip-arm motion that looks almost like skimming stones on a Sunday at the lake. That guy will be in the majors within one year and pitch effectively for a decade, while Tyler Kolek struggles for at least a couple years to develop a slider, curve and change in the minors.

If both guys are available I take Nola for a simple reason: time. If the Twins want to compete while Mauer is still near his peak, they need their young arms to get to the bigs as a group within a couple years. Nola would definitely be a starter in that frame. Kolek would not. Even if he could become the next CC Sabbathia, right now Tyler Kolek is a thrower. This team can't afford to wait for him to become a pitcher. Nola is a pitcher right now. Take the pitcher!

Edited by jimbo92107, 30 May 2014 - 08:14 AM.


#12 tobi0040

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:15 AM

Kolek appears to be a polarizing potential draft pick...

I think he's an arm surgery waiting to happen, but that kind of velocity is rare. That said, 80% of big league hitters can hit 97 and straight. He will need to add one more pitch to become a potential power closer. He will need to add two more pitches to become a potential dominant starting pitcher.

I still lean to Nola because I think he has upside too. I think I would take Nola over Gordon though... maybe.


From what I have read, his curve has nice bite to it but is inconsistent. Very few high schoolers have a good change up, but an average change up is probably not the hardest thing to develop and average would be fine with that kind of fastball velocity.

#13 tobi0040

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:21 AM

Depends what kind of game you want to play. Today all we really know about Kolek is that he's a big, strong kid that can throw a baseball incredibly fast. Can he learn to control a curve, slider, change, etc? If not, he's a closer you took with the fifth pick in the draft. Can he maintain his incredible velocity without hurting his arm? His mechanics look good, but that kind of speed can wreck an arm in a hurry. If he becomes a mid to low 90's guy with not much for secondary pitches, what a wasted pick.

Then you've got Aaron Nola, one of those guys with a smooth, easy whip-arm motion that looks almost like skimming stones on a Sunday at the lake. That guy will be in the majors within one year and pitch effectively for a decade, while Tyler Kolek struggles for at least a couple years to develop a slider, curve and change in the minors.

If both guys are available I take Nola for a simple reason: time. If the Twins want to compete while Mauer is still near his peak, they need their young arms to get to the bigs as a group within a couple years. Nola would definitely be a starter in that frame. Kolek would not. Even if he could become the next CC Sabbathia, right now Tyler Kolek is a thrower. This team can't afford to wait for him to become a pitcher. Nola is a pitcher right now. Take the pitcher!


It is a supply and demand issue for me. The supply of pitchers with Kolek's upside is very low and too pricey for us. Every off-season you can get #3/#4 starters. I think drafting at #5 based on how quickly a guy will be here (or even using it as a tie breaker) is not the way to do it. Sign another Nolasco, Hughes, or Garza next off-season if we need something next year, plant a seed in the garden that could grow to be a front line starter.

#14 mike wants wins

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:25 AM

I agree on not being worried about the next year or two....they have Meyer and May. I want the guy that will be great for 3-6 years at some point.
Lighten up Francis....

#15 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:25 AM

I'd take Kolek over Nola in a heart beat here. For one, quickness to the majors means nothing when he's blocked by Meyer, May, Darnell, Hughes, Gibson, Gilmartin, and Nolasco. Berrios could be in the way too in a year.

Second, it's said the fastball has a nice drop to it... It's not a straight fastball.

Go with high upside. If he flames out, he flames out, but the reward is way too tantalizing.

#16 DJL44

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:44 AM

KLaw says the White Sox love Kolek.

#17 Dantes929

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 09:07 AM

I agree on not being worried about the next year or two....they have Meyer and May. I want the guy that will be great for 3-6 years at some point.

There is the risk and there is what is fun about baseball. Mark Buehrle would contradict that you need to miss bats or strike out people to be successful. Frank Viola would contradict that it is necessary to have a blazing fastball to strike people out. Nolan Ryan would argue that it certainly helps to have a blazing fastball. It is most likely that the #1 in the draft will not become a legendary player. Less likely that the #5 will . If you think Kolek has a 10% chance of being Roger Clemens, a 40% chance of being Joel Zumaya and a 50% chance of being a bust do you take him? Do you take that over Nola if Nola has a 20% chance of being Viola, 20% chance of being Buehrle, 30% chance of being Radke and #30% chance of being a bust? I agree that you do not look short term but risk reward is very real.

#18 laloesch

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 09:34 AM

KLaw says the White Sox love Kolek.



I'm not even going to pick up the bong. Kolek is not going to fall to us. Zero chance of it happening.

#19 tobi0040

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 09:47 AM

There is the risk and there is what is fun about baseball. Mark Buehrle would contradict that you need to miss bats or strike out people to be successful. Frank Viola would contradict that it is necessary to have a blazing fastball to strike people out. Nolan Ryan would argue that it certainly helps to have a blazing fastball. It is most likely that the #1 in the draft will not become a legendary player. Less likely that the #5 will . If you think Kolek has a 10% chance of being Roger Clemens, a 40% chance of being Joel Zumaya and a 50% chance of being a bust do you take him? Do you take that over Nola if Nola has a 20% chance of being Viola, 20% chance of being Buehrle, 30% chance of being Radke and #30% chance of being a bust? I agree that you do not look short term but risk reward is very real.


These are all good points, but you have to go off of history and the rules, not the exceptions.

-In general, pitchers that throw with velocity get more K's

-More K's usually means better overall numbers

-Pitchers at 18 have a better chance to develop pitches than a pitcher at 21

Regarding the odds bit, I think you are looking at Nola in a very favorable light and have a pessimistic view of Kolek. The career ERA's of Voila, Mark B., and Radke are 3.73, 3.81, and 4.22. For argument sake, you have a 40% chance at a #2 starter and a 30% chance at a #3 starter. Most reports have Nola's ceiling as a #3 starter. I would also argue something exists between Roger Clemons and Joel Zumaya and certainly, at a minimum a comp could be given to a closer that stays healthy

#20 drivlikejehu

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 10:02 AM

He'll probably be gone, but I'm not crazy about him. I wouldn't take a pitcher at #5 unless I was confident he could be solid with a low-90s fastball. Too many pitchers throw hard as an amateur but can't hold it over a pro workload, or get hurt, etc.

Of course, you hope for as much velocity as you can get, but ideally the prospect knows how to pitch and it's not an all-or-nothing situation.

#21 Brandon

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 11:16 AM

You have a better than average Earned run average with an average pitcher and a lights out bullpen. in 2010 we had 5 deep in the rotation. Liriano was the defacto ace. While he had ace peripherals, He had a 3.62 ERA and I would put that as a number 2 starter. but the others were 3 and 4 starters Pavano, Baker, Slowey, and I forget..... My point is we have Nolasco and Hughes, Gibson and Deduno and Meyer and May. Adding Nola to the mix is not a bad way to have too much pitching.

I am going to be fine with whoever they pick but a little nervous with Kolek because of past experiences with pitchers like Hunt and there was a high schooler back in 2004 we drafted in the first round throwing 96 that imploded. I also like the idea of Gordon cause if nothing else it will be nice to see one of our top 5 prospects be a SS at some point.

#22 Dantes929

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 11:25 AM

Tobi, I admit the %s were just off the top of my head. Viola, Radke and Buehrle all spent time as aces and certainly there is much that exists between Clemens and Zumaya. Maybe replace Viola with Pavano or even just go with Buehrle and Clemens. Clemens had a career 3.12 ERA and lets steroid adjust it to 3.3. No denying Clemens was better but they both had a lot of success. Where is the cutoff point for the odds of just those two or bust? Would you take a 10% flyer on Clemens over 100% chance of a Buehrle? I know Clemens is rare but Buehrle's do not grow on trees, either. It was all for the sake of argument.

#23 tobi0040

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 11:34 AM

You have a better than average Earned run average with an average pitcher and a lights out bullpen. in 2010 we had 5 deep in the rotation. Liriano was the defacto ace. While he had ace peripherals, He had a 3.62 ERA and I would put that as a number 2 starter. but the others were 3 and 4 starters Pavano, Baker, Slowey, and I forget..... My point is we have Nolasco and Hughes, Gibson and Deduno and Meyer and May. Adding Nola to the mix is not a bad way to have too much pitching.
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Here were the four teams that advanced past us in the playoffs in 2010:

Giants - Lincecum (3.43 ERA), Cain (3.14 ERA), and Bumgarter (3.00 ERA)
Rangers - Lee (3.18 ERA), Wilson (3.35 ERA)
Phillies - Halladay (2.44 ERA), Hamels (3.06 ERA), Oswalt (2.76 ERA)
Yankees - CC (3.18 ERA) and Pettitte (3.28 ERA)

Look at the Tigers rotation now, that is what we are up against, so I am in favor of throwing players in the pipeline that may be able to match them down the road versus a deep rotation of #3 starters.

#24 Dantes929

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 11:35 AM

"In general, pitchers that throw with velocity get more K's

-More K's usually means better overall numbers"

There is a lot of room in that general. I remember in a year the Giants won it they threw the fastball less than any other team and the velocity of their fastball was middle of the pack. That is going by memory and I don't know where to get the velocity stats but easy to go look at baseball reference for this year. I think you will agree that ERA is a much better value than strikeout totals. Best three teams for ERA are A's, Braves, and Giants yet they rank 17th, 4th and 14th in strikeouts. Top 3 teams for strikeouts are Dodgers, Indians and Yankees and their ERA ranks are 8, 20, and 17. I value control and stuff over velocity but I guess we can agree that the recent editions of the Twins have not had enough of any of the 3.

#25 tobi0040

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 11:37 AM

Tobi, I admit the %s were just off the top of my head. Viola, Radke and Buehrle all spent time as aces and certainly there is much that exists between Clemens and Zumaya. Maybe replace Viola with Pavano or even just go with Buehrle and Clemens. Clemens had a career 3.12 ERA and lets steroid adjust it to 3.3. No denying Clemens was better but they both had a lot of success. Where is the cutoff point for the odds of just those two or bust? Would you take a 10% flyer on Clemens over 100% chance of a Buehrle? I know Clemens is rare but Buehrle's do not grow on trees, either. It was all for the sake of argument.


I think Kolek is probably a 5% chance at Clemens and 20% chance at a #2/#3 starter, another 20% shot at being a good closer. I will take that over a 100% chance at a #3 starter. The fact is we can sign a #3 starter. Our payroll is at $80M and we have a ton of young, talented, controllable players coming up.

#26 gunnarthor

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 11:57 AM

Look at the Tigers rotation now, that is what we are up against, so I am in favor of throwing players in the pipeline that may be able to match them down the road versus a deep rotation of #3 starters.


Here is what the Twins faced in the playoffs
2010 - game 1 Sabathia (7.5 k/9 4.6 WAR season), Game 2 Pettitte (7.0 k/9 2.5 season), Game 3 Hughes (7.5 k/9 2.0 WAR season). Twins were able to score some runs off of Sabathia (Liriano was worse though) but Pettitte and Hughes shut down their offense.

2009 - game 1 Sabathia (7.7 k/9 6.2 WAR), game 2 AJ Burnett (8.5 K/9 4.4 WAR), game 3 Pettitte (6.8 k/9 3.3 WAR). Pavano and Blackburn pitched well for us but offense never showed up.

2006 - game 1 Zito (6.1 k/9 4.4 WAR), Estaban Loaiza (5.6 k/9 0.7 WAR), Dan Haren (7.1 k/9 3.5 WAR). Offense didn't really show up for us.

2004 - Game 1 Mike Mussina (7.2 K/9 2.4 WAR), game 2 Jon Leiber (5.2 k/9 2.8 WAR), Kevin Brown (5.7 k/9 2.8 WAR), Vasquez (6.8 k/9 2.5 WAR). Twins beat Mussina and lost two extra innings games.

In any event, it helps to have good pitchers but that doesn't mean they have to have 8+ K/9 rates. The Twins just need better pitchers period. If that's Kolek, fine. If that's Nola, fine.

#27 Willihammer

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 12:02 PM

None of Buehrle, Radke, or Viola were drafted in the top 10. Heck, Buehrle slipped to the 38th round. They fell for a reason - the odds are stacked even more against the soft tossers. Play the odds, take the safe pick. Take the hardest throwers you can find.

#28 twinsguy14

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 01:17 PM

A fast fastball is hard to hit though. Anything 96+ you can throw straight as an arrow, in the zone, and still miss bats.

To be able to throw in the zone and still miss bats - that's the holy grail.

If he falls, we have to take him.

. 96 mile per hour straight fastball means nothing without the threat of a secondary pitch to a hitter, some movement or deception.
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#29 DocBauer

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 09:47 PM

Kolek is tantalizing! There is no questioning that.

With time, coaching, health, and a willingness to learn, he could be a Clemons comparable. Scouts and GM's have to decide on injury risk, coach-ability and projection. He could also be another in a long and forgettable line of prospects who threw hard and nothing more.

The MLB draft is a huge crapshoot of hope and possibility.

When you pick in this high of a draft slot, you have to determine dream possibility vs quality probability.

I agree it's probably a moot point as he probably won't be there at 5 anyway. If, by chance, he is, and you want to go pitching, I think it's clearly between him and Nola.

Hey, Nola isn't a soft tosser. And he's polished, playing in a top conference, with solid secondary stuff that has good potential. Being a "safer" pick doesn't mean poor or no projection. Kolek is tantalizing but scary. His upside is tremendous, but he's probably less polished than Stewart or Berrios. And an 18 year old that throws that hard scares me in regard to his arm.

I want to say Kolek if available as the #5 pick should be someone who has scouting numbers that make you salivate. Win or lose, you take a shot on someone like that. I'm just torn at the thought of "what if" going both directions.

#30 jimbo92107

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Posted 01 June 2014 - 08:50 AM

There is the risk and there is what is fun about baseball. Mark Buehrle would contradict that you need to miss bats or strike out people to be successful. Frank Viola would contradict that it is necessary to have a blazing fastball to strike people out. Nolan Ryan would argue that it certainly helps to have a blazing fastbal....


Other than Buehrle, your examples had other pitches that made them special. Frank Viola did in fact have an excellent heater, clocked as high as 96, and as many of us recall, his circle change was truly sweet music to behold. Ryan had an amazing curve ball and a good slider to go with his historic fastball.

However, I don't disagree with your point. Pitchers like Bruce Chen and Tanaka for the Yanks prove that you don't need big heat to be successful in the majors. Does Kolek have the ability to learn a couple plus secondary pitches? Unknown. Will his arm hold up throwing that hard? Unknown. When you ask those questions about Nola, you already have your answers. Nola is already a complete pitcher. His route to the majors will take less than one season in the minors.

Others say that a quick timeline doesn't matter with the slew of star pitching prospects bubbling up from the Twins minor league system. I say you can't have too many top prospects, because most of the "can't miss" guys will find a way to miss. Guys that are mlb caliber are always valuable, whether it's in your rotation or as trading chips for that shortstop your team really needs. Take Nola, and you've got much more certain value than Kolek.

Edited by jimbo92107, 01 June 2014 - 08:54 AM.