Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email
Photo

Article: Keith Law On The Twins And The 2017 Draft

hunter greene brendan mckay kyle wright keith law smart baseball
  • Please log in to reply
78 replies to this topic

#1 Seth Stohs

Seth Stohs

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 14,237 posts

Posted 18 May 2017 - 09:13 AM

In the fourth and final installment of a conversation with Keith Law, we discussed what goes into the thinking when a team has the #1 overall pick in the draft. What factors would he use if he was the scouting director for the team with the top selection? I think his response speaks very well to the fact that it is not an easy decision this year. Law’s comments about the options remind us that there are choices at number one, that it’s not a slam dunk choice.

One more reminder, tonight at 6:30, Keith Law will appear with fellow baseball authors Peter Schilling, Jr., and Michael Fallon for a book reading, discussion and signing. Head to Moon Palace Books in southeast Minneapolis to be a part of this event. Get your copy of Smart Baseball signed by Keith Law.

We all know the catch phrase that teams like to use when talking about early draft picks. “Best Player Available” is the popular, and correct, thing to do. Who will be the best player in the minds of your scouting department? That is the player you want.

However, there are many factors that a scouting department will consider in determining who they will select and invest millions of dollars.I asked Keith Law for his general thoughts on what a team should consider when making the #1 overall pick.

“My personal philosophy… The history of the #1 pick, you are more likely to get a generational talent or an all-world sort of player than any other spot. It’s a rare opportunity. Of course, you never want to pick there again.”

The top player on Law’s board is the top player on most people’s board right now, though even now that is subject to change.

“If you look at Hunter Greene, the 17-year-old high school right-handed pitcher/shortstop from Southern California, he’s first on my rankings, and I believe he’s first on MLB.com’s too. I think he has a chance to be an absolute superstar. I would take him recognizing the risk, but you want to roll the dice on a chance to get a franchise-defining sort of player. However, that is simply my philosophy, and it isn’t my money so it’s pretty easy for me to say that.”

Money is a factor. While the draft slots have changed a bit this year, teams at the top - those with the most slotted money available to use - can still be creative. The best example in recent years was the Astros selecting Carlos Correa first overall in 2012 and signing him for well under slot value. They then used the extra slot money to select Lance McCullers and Rio Ruiz later. Could the Twins consider that strategy? Should they?

“And money is always a factor. If Hunter Greene wants $8 million and Kyle Wright of Vanderbilt says he’ll sign for $5 million, you might be able to do great things with that $3 million in savings.” Law continued, “Taking Wright, even if you don’t believe he’s the best player, may be the better choice because of the value. They have one extra pick and another at the top of the second round, you can overpay guys later and get more talent in total.”

With the Twins farm system lacking the high-end talent (as we discussed in Part 3), adding three high-quality prospects in the draft certainly sounds appealing. We don’t know what Greene or Wright or McKay or others would ask. Those discussions will start occurring in the coming weeks. But the strategy is sound.”

With the #1 overall pick, you simply cannot take a guy who busts completely. Ceiling is great, but floor likely comes into play as well.

Law explains, “There is another philosophy that says if you pick first, you don't want to zero out on that. Hunter Greene is a high school right-hander. No high school right-hander has ever gone first overall. It’s risky. Maybe you take Wright, who’s at Vanderbilt, who’s the best college pitcher in the class for me. He’s been pitching out of his mind the last month. He’s got size. He’s got stuff. He’s got command. I mean, Vanderbilt is as good of pedigree as you can get for a pitcher. So maybe you say, we know that guy’s a big league starter. He’s at least a three, probably a two, and he might be a one. That’s good. You would take that. Especially the Twins. They’ve struggled to develop good young starting pitcher. You would take that.”

In summary, Law agrees that Greene presents the highest ceiling. However, he comes with a lot of risk. Wright has a high ceiling, though not as high as Greene, but his floor is most likely significantly higher too.

“Would you take that if I told you that in passing on Hunter Greene, there’s a 30% chance you’re passing on Bob Gibson. Maybe Hall of Famer is a bit much, but a multiple-time All-Star, a Cy Young contender in Greene. He might be that.”

Law recently had the opportunity to see Greene and talk with him for an upcoming story. He came away incredibly impressed.

“He might get to the big leagues by 20. He’s 17, and I got to interview him a couple of weeks ago. This is an impressive person. It’s an impressive body. You don’t see kids like that. I see kids all the time for the job. I don’t see many kids build like that, athletic like that, loose like that, still projectable and already throwing in the upper-90s.”

With the Twins having so many young players in their pre-arbitration and pre-free agency years, maybe there is a goal to get someone who can help more quickly.

“At the same time, do you want to wait 3-5 years for a high school pitcher, or do you want to take the college pitcher who could be in your rotation in 12 months?”

These are all factors and considerations that Twins first-year Scouting Director Sean Johnson has likely thrown around in his head, and thrown off of all of the area scouts, and thrown off of Derek Falvey, Thad Levine and others.

Simply, there isn’t an easy #1 overall choice in the 2017. There isn’t a Stephen Strasburg, there there isn’t a Bryce Harper.

Making it even more difficult, Law acknowledges there are likely more than just the two players (Greene and Wright).

“I could go back and forth, and I could make a good case for either side. Those are just two of them. You will hear Brendan McKay’s name though he’s falling off at this point. But he may still be a strong consideration at one. There are other names in this group because there’s not a hitter. There’s not a Bryce Harper where you look and say that’s a sure thing. The bat plays and he’s got power. I can check off a bunch of things that are virtual guarantees. We’re talking about pitchers, and pitchers are scary. I’ve been in draft rooms with Toronto where we took pitchers and we were sure of what we were getting, and we didn’t get that.”

I mentioned to Law that I had just done a radio spot and when asked who I would take with the #1 pick, I surprised the show’s hosts by saying Kyle Wright.

Law made me feel better about my (admittedly hypothetical) selection.

“You’re not wrong. I guess there are wrong answers, but Kyle Wright is not a wrong answer. I don’t know if there’s really one right answer this year.”

McKay’s name has surfaced with the Twin and the top overall pick. Those voices have seemingly quieted of late. And it’s because of the things scouts (and fans) have seen the last couple of weekends.

“When I saw him in February, he was 90-95. We’ve had reports from the last two weekends where he’s been upper-80s and topping out at (91 or 92). That’s a little concerning. He was never overpowering. He’s going to live by command, by mixing his pitches. Now you’re telling me it’s an average fastball? It’s not a high school kid's where you’ve projecting it to get better. It’s a college arm thinking this is probably what it is. That would worry me. He’s still a good pitcher, but at this point, if I were in Falvey’s shoes, I’d say we’re not doing that at one.

So what do you think? There are a lot of ways to think about who the Twins should draft with the first overall pick. All of them make sense. Things to consider include:
  • Ceiling
  • Floor
  • Likelihood of reaching ceiling
  • Financial creativity (can you get two of three high-level talents by signing someone for less at one?)
  • Timelines
I would really like to thank Keith Law for spending some time talking to me the other day about a variety of topics. It was a nice conversation that felt like it could have gone much longer. One more time, you’ve got the opportunity tonight to rub elbows with Keith Law, hear a reading of his new book Smart Baseball, listen to some baseball discussion and get autographs. 6:30 tonight at Moon Palace Books in Minneapolis.

If you missed any of the previous article, here they are:

Part 1 - Keith Law On Smart Baseball
Part 2 - Keith Law On Derek Falvey And The 2017 Twins
Part 3 - Keith Law On The Twins Minor Leagues

Click here to view the article
  • gunnarthor, James, Oldgoat_MN and 1 other like this

#2 mikelink45

mikelink45

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 809 posts

Posted 18 May 2017 - 09:25 AM

I cannot see or scout the players and if I did I would not be accurate, but my hope is that we have assembled the talent judges needed for one of the most important decisions in the draft that we (hopefully) will have over the next decade. 

  • Willihammer and terrydactyls1947 like this

#3 enge0280

enge0280

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 510 posts

Posted 18 May 2017 - 09:26 AM

Kyle Wright sounds like a GREAT pick to me!

  • bluechipper, nytwinsfan, BrianTrottier and 1 other like this

#4 clutterheart

clutterheart

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 1,324 posts

Posted 18 May 2017 - 09:45 AM

 

Kyle Wright sounds like a GREAT pick to me!

Agree the more I read about Wright the more I think he is the safest pick with the highest upside.

- Unless they think McKay (or someone else) as a hitter is worth the #1 pick.

If they took Greene, I wouldn't fault the team for going for it and it would be really fun if he works out.  But its a hell of a risk.

 

 

 

  • gunnarthor, James, brvama and 5 others like this

#5 gunnarthor

gunnarthor

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 7,129 posts

Posted 18 May 2017 - 09:46 AM

Thanks for doing these Seth. I won't be at the book signing but it was nice of Klaw to talk to TD.

  • Mike Sixel, diehardtwinsfan, maxisagod and 3 others like this

#6 gunnarthor

gunnarthor

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 7,129 posts

Posted 18 May 2017 - 09:48 AM

I used to be a McKay guy but I think I've come over to Wright. Sometimes, we overthink things and nitpick. Wright's got stuff, size and comes from a great school. He's known he'd be a ML pitcher for years now and seems to handle everything well. Take him, save a few bucks and get someone who is falling.

  • brvama, Siehbiscuit, enge0280 and 5 others like this

#7 tarheeltwinsfan

tarheeltwinsfan

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 262 posts

Posted 18 May 2017 - 09:55 AM

Roll the dice and be the first team to take a HS RHP. He will be fun to watch as he advances through the minor leagues and when he is finally promoted to the major leagues, after months and possibly years of DaveW's posting "When will Greene be in high A; Promote Greene to AA; Why is Greene not in AAA; Put Greene on the 40 man roster; What in the world is the FO thinking by not putting Greene on the Twins right now!" Twins Daily won't be the same without you, DaveW.

  • gunnarthor, James, Oldgoat_MN and 3 others like this

#8 Vanimal46

Vanimal46

    Minnesota Twins Whine Line Host

  • Members
  • 6,752 posts
  • LocationAustin, TX

Posted 18 May 2017 - 09:57 AM

 

Agree the more I read about Wright the more I think he is the safest pick with the highest upside.

- Unless they think McKay (or someone else) as a hitter is worth the #1 pick.

If they took Greene, I wouldn't fault the team for going for it and it would be really fun if he works out.  But its a hell of a risk.

 

It's a tough choice, but I think I would roll the dice on Greene. Wright is a nice consolation prize, and what do I know? From all I've read, and KLAW's quotes above, he's got a prototypical SP body and a good attitude. If he's a hard worker like Berrios, I'll certainly be rooting for the kid to succeed. 

  • Sweetwater and tarheeltwinsfan like this

#9 Linus

Linus

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 1,757 posts

Posted 18 May 2017 - 09:59 AM

Wright or Greene. One factor favoring Wright is that he likely contributes while we still have our young core. Greenes best years might be when Sano is playing for the Yankees.
  • gunnarthor, James, Twins33 and 2 others like this

#10 Mike Sixel

Mike Sixel

    Now living in Oregon

  • Members
  • 20,284 posts

Posted 18 May 2017 - 10:10 AM

Thanks to Seth and Keith for these. Of course, I am a KLAW fanboy.....as much or more for his non-baseball work.

 

I have been saying Wright for weeks, and I'd go that way. A legit 3, possibly 2, maybe a 1. As a college pitcher. From a good school. I love Greene's potential, and would have no issue with that pick. In fact, I'd be thrilled with that pick. KLAW just described him as having the stuff that makes HoF types!

  • James and enge0280 like this

I don't know, it is a site to discuss sports, not airline safety.....maybe we should take it less seriously?


#11 Thrylos

Thrylos

    They Finally fired ’em. Play Ball!

  • Members
  • 8,012 posts
  • LocationLehigh Valley, PA, USA
  • Twitter: thrylos98

Posted 18 May 2017 - 10:11 AM

The issue I have with the reported Greene's ceiling is that it is "calculated" based on his fastball and "athleticism". The last is not a huge difference maker in baseball, esp. for pitchers.I'd put mechanics over athleticism all day (and night.)His mechanics are dubious at this point.Same with a fastball.Heard some reports that it "can use a bit more movement".If that is the case, it is pretty scary, because, what you can blow past a Private Religious High School player, you likely cannot blow by an average A class player. And looking at Greene's stats he is "dominant" (48 K per 106 batters faced, 12.2 per 9), but not dominant (18 H + 4 BB per 28 IP,= 0.785 WHIP,) based on the level of competition.

 

For comparison purposes, Brendan McKay has 0.810 WHIP against major conference opponents this season.100 mph fastball or not. Strikeouts or not (and McKay is striking out 12.4 per 9, a number higher than Greene's.)

 

Let that sink for a while:McKay is about as effective against College hitters and is Greene against Private High School hitters.Plus McKay has 2 other above average pitches (one plus) that Greene does not have.

So, if Greene were to go to College and kept his effectiveness rate up, in 4 years he would be about as effective as McKay in getting hitters out, strikeouts or not, 100 mph fastball or not.

 

For me the choice as is right now, is pretty simple.I did a bit of analysis last week here, comparing the top 4 College pitchers and ranked them, based on their objective numbers as well as subjective "scouting" rankings.The results are very clear.The one factor that was not taken into consideration is sign-ability or how much a bonus they might require, but still...

 

I know that Greene is a great athlete,a great story, has an 100 mph fastball and can strike high school kids out, but I'd rather go with the guy who can get College kids out (and even with strikeouts) at the same rate...

 

And he is a lefty.

Edited by Thrylos, 18 May 2017 - 10:16 AM.

  • Brock Beauchamp, Kevin, USNMCPO and 3 others like this
-----
Blogging Twins since 2007 at The Tenth Inning Stretch
http://tenthinningst...h.blogspot.com/
twitter: @thrylos98

#12 bluechipper

bluechipper

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 1,770 posts

Posted 18 May 2017 - 10:30 AM

I'd go with Wright, mostly due to the combination of much lower risk and quicker to the majors.

  • howieramone2 likes this

#13 Thrylos

Thrylos

    They Finally fired ’em. Play Ball!

  • Members
  • 8,012 posts
  • LocationLehigh Valley, PA, USA
  • Twitter: thrylos98

Posted 18 May 2017 - 10:36 AM

One more thing because it is getting to be a pet peeve:

 

How many "generational talents" can you have in a generation?1, 2, 5, 50?

 

I'd take Kershaw, Trout, Harper (and potentially a few more, with Sano knocking on the door) in this conversation for the current generation.If that number gets to how many, some of them are not "generational talents"?

 

 

 

Edited by Thrylos, 18 May 2017 - 10:37 AM.

-----
Blogging Twins since 2007 at The Tenth Inning Stretch
http://tenthinningst...h.blogspot.com/
twitter: @thrylos98

#14 Oldgoat_MN

Oldgoat_MN

    Baseball Games. Life is good!

  • Members
  • 1,501 posts

Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:06 AM

Simply, there isn’t an easy #1 overall choice in the 2017. There isn’t a Stephen Strasburg, there there isn’t a Bryce Harper.

 

Interestingly enough, coming into the 2017 season neither of those consensus #1 picks leads their draft class in WAR for their career. 

MLB drafts are a tricky business.

  • gunnarthor, 70charger, howieramone2 and 1 other like this

Don't believe everything you read on the Internet just because it has a name or a photo you recognize.

- Abraham Lincoln

Sabermetrician’s credo:

“I’m not sure, this is why I’m not sure, and this is roughly how not sure I am.”


#15 gunnarthor

gunnarthor

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 7,129 posts

Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:10 AM

 

Simply, there isn’t an easy #1 overall choice in the 2017. There isn’t a Stephen Strasburg, there there isn’t a Bryce Harper.

 

Interestingly enough, coming into the 2017 season neither of those consensus #1 picks leads their draft class in WAR for their career. 

MLB drafts are a tricky business.

Yep, the reality is, we're probably not getting the best player from the draft at 1/1. It'll be someone else. So don't worry about it. Get a guy who you know will be a solid ML pitcher and don't overthink it.

  • Mike Sixel, Oldgoat_MN, DocBauer and 1 other like this

#16 jimbo92107

jimbo92107

    Señor Member

  • Members
  • 2,827 posts
  • LocationSan Diego

Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:30 AM

I still take Greene. Aim high, gentlemen. Hunter Greene has by far the best name (it's an actual color!), and by far the highest ceiling. And if for some reason he flops as a pitcher, you still have a chance to make him into an outfielder that can hit. I reject the timing argument (Sano to the Yankees? For shame!), and I don't think the Twins will lose their young core players within three years. In fact, it's more likely they will be at their personal peak just about the year Greene comes flying out of Chattenooga. 

 

Starting five: Greene, Berrios, Gonsalves, Romero, with Stewart, Mejia and Jorge competing for the fifth spot. Not bad. 

  • Sweetwater, twinssouth, Vanimal46 and 1 other like this

Pro tip: Try pitching to a little less contact.


#17 nytwinsfan

nytwinsfan

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 1,506 posts

Posted 18 May 2017 - 12:35 PM

Great article/interview. I'm leaning Wright now as well.

  • Oldgoat_MN likes this

#18 Steve Lein

Steve Lein

    Senior Member - MiLB Report Contributor

  • Members
  • 1,307 posts

Posted 18 May 2017 - 12:40 PM

I'm with Thrylos a bit here on Hunter Greene. Have said it before, but he looks like he's nothing but velocity at this point to me. Sure, that oozes projection...

 

Thing is, 95+ MPH velocity in high school should put up ridiculous numbers if he's anything near what the projections say. I don't think his numbers are ridiculous... All you have to do is some comparisons. 

 

Last High School pitcher to go #1? Brady Aiken. His numbers his senior year were far better than Greene's.

 

#7 overall pick last year? Braxton Garrett. His numbers in HS were far better than Greene's.

 

Beau Burrows had better HS #'s - he went #22 in 2015.

 

Something just doesn't add up to me...

 

Now, I won't be disappointed if Greene is the pick - there is obviously a reason he's in the discussion and he sounds like a really good kid. But is it because the talent level is down that far this year? It does make you wonder.

 

 

  • Thrylos, Oldgoat_MN, Willihammer and 1 other like this

Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 45, Speed: 45. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but will sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)


#19 Han Joelo

Han Joelo

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 585 posts

Posted 18 May 2017 - 12:41 PM

No more Kyles, please.  Go Greene.  Like the much chased but never cornered definition of an "ace," generational talent can mean whatever you want it to, and won't be quantified with a number.  A generation from now, will people remember and talk about someone?  That is partly market and win related, but I like the upside of this kid.

 

After reading the MLBTR article on Arizona's draft of 2009, which included a few thoughts about Trout that highlighted his character and athleticism, I'm loathe to miss out on a similar opportunity.

  • birdwatcher likes this

#20 DocBauer

DocBauer

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 2,953 posts

Posted 18 May 2017 - 01:09 PM

I know Law's 30% potential comment on Greene is not real math, but an off the cuff statement. And if the Twins go that route, I'd be happy, root for the kid and hope like he'll. But when look at build, stuff, high floor, projectable ceiling, proximity to the majors, I just thing Wright us the correct choice here.
  • howieramone2 likes this

"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

 

--Lou Brown




Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: hunter greene, brendan mckay, kyle wright, keith law, smart baseball