Jump to content

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

Article: First-Round Flops or Unfinished Projects?

kohl stewart tyler jay
  • Please log in to reply
82 replies to this topic

#1 Nick Nelson

Nick Nelson

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 3,471 posts

Posted 24 September 2018 - 07:47 PM

As a rebuilding team in desperate need of pitching, you can't really afford to miss on arms with two top-10 picks in the draft in three years.

Alas, Minnesota's selections of Kohl Stewart in 2013 (fourth overall) and Tyler Jay in 2015 (sixth overall) have been heavily scrutinized. Neither has developed as one would hope.

This offseason, the front office will need to take hard looks at both, and assess fits within the future vision.When prospects reach a certain threshold of service in the minors, they become eligible for the Rule 5 draft if not added to the 40-man roster. Stewart was at that point last offseason, and the Twins elected not to add him. He went unclaimed in the Rule 5.

That's pretty telling in terms of his perceived value, just four-and-a-half years removed from being the top prep pitcher drafted. Stewart's minor-league career has been interesting, in that he has consistently been fairly successful, but has never shown characteristics of a dominant pitcher.

To reach Triple-A by age 22, and the majors by 23, is impressive. Stewart posted a sterling 3.36 ERA while allowing only 24 homers in 570 minor-league innings. Great numbers. And now he's holding his own as an MLB rookie with a 4.40 ERA through seven outings. Recent history with more highly acclaimed prospects like Jose Berrios and Stephen Gonsalves shows how difficult it can be to achieve even so-so results out of the gates.

But beneath the veil of Stewart's results are major shortcomings. At no point has the right-hander excelled at throwing strikes. He averaged 3.5 BB/9 in the minors and has had a tougher time since graduating to the majors, issuing 18 walks in 30 frames. He's thrown only 56% strikes, a staggeringly poor rate. And he's done so while allowing a ridiculous amount of contact; among 458 pitchers to throw 30+ innings innings this year, his 6.3% swinging strike rate ranks 451st.

That formula sounds disastrous. Yet, in the month of September, Stewart has made it work. In three appearances this month, he's posted a 1.88 ERA while holding opponents to a .174 average and .196 slugging percentage over 14 1/3 innings. That includes zero home runs allowed over a span of 56 batters – truly an impressive feat for a 23-year-old whose matchups have included the Astros and Yankees.

His success owes to an elite-level ground ball rate (55.1%), which was his calling card throughout the minors. Despite yielding all that contact, Stewart has allowed just one home run and a .368 slugging percentage overall with the Twins, while inducing six ground-ball double plays. In the minors he averaged 0.4 HR/9, a lower rate than Berrios or Kyle Gibson.

Consistently preventing opponents from being able to lift the ball is a real skill, and it's very encouraging Stewart has carried it up to the majors. I still don't think it's enough to make him a quality starting option unless the control and/or whiffs improve considerably, but of course, he's only 23. Hardly an outlandish hope.

Somewhat of an afterthought as recently as this spring, Stewart has put himself squarely back into the mix of rotation depth, and locked down a 40-man spot heading into an offseason that figures to feature plenty of turnover.

The outlook is murkier for fellow first-rounder Jay.

In the 2012 draft, Minnesota deployed a strategy of taking college relievers with high picks, and attempting to convert them to starters. Even though the method hadn't borne much fruit three years later, the Twins tried it again in 2015, with much higher stakes. They took the Illini closer sixth overall, letting Andrew Benintendi slide to the Red Sox at seven. Again, they expressed hopes for a successful transition to a starter's workload.

Three years later, the pick is shaping up as a major bust, worsened by the questionable underlying thought process.

Jay's shoulder evidently wasn't up to the task. He started 13 games at Fort Myers in 2016, and pitched fairly well, but was shut down with shoulder fatigue after a midseason promotion to Double-A. Last summer, the arm issue had become so severe that the team weighed thoracic outlet syndrome surgery – a dire step for a 23-year-old – though it didn't end up happening. He threw 11 2/3 innings total.

Here in 2018, the lefty was healthy enough to make 38 appearances at Chattanooga, but he wasn't good, posting a 4.22 ERA and 1.58 WHIP over 60 innings. Double-A batters hit .310 against him.

If the Twins don't add Jay to the 40-man this offseason, they'll risk letting another team snag him away. The only thing that would compel Minnesota to roster him over any number of more deserving candidates on merit is where he was drafted. That's also the only thing that would compel another team to draft him.

Take a flyer on a 24-year-old former top college player with plenty of Double-A experience? I could see someone doing it. And I'm not sure the Twins would kick themselves much if it happened. Unless they've seen glimmers of something hidden deep within, Jay looks fairly expendable at this point, which is a real shame.

As a rebuilding team in desperate need of pitching, you can't really afford to miss on arms with two top-10 picks in the draft in three years.

The Twins are dangerously close to writing off one, so they really need Stewart to pan. Luckily, he's showing some real signs of promise. Not a moment too soon.

Click here to view the article
  • USAFChief, glunn, Blake and 5 others like this

#2 mikelink45

mikelink45

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 2,054 posts

Posted 24 September 2018 - 09:00 PM

Nicely done.Developing pitchers has to be a priority.We have Gratol and Thorpe in the minors and we have to continue to groom them as well as figuring out what to do with what we have do to rescue our highest level prospects. 

  • caninatl04 likes this

#3 Rosterman

Rosterman

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 3,052 posts

Posted 24 September 2018 - 09:08 PM

You see the non-potential of early round picks over time, and wonder why teams do shell out big bonus $$ for such players. Especially when you can basically trade for them once a season has passed, or possibly go after them if they pan out as Jay (and Burdi) have for the Twins.

 

That Kay didn't get a call to AAA will hurt him for Rule 5 consideration.

 

Interesting that the Twins not only advanced Stewart to AAA ball, but they gave him more than a single start shot in the big leagues. Will be interesting to see how his career develops.

 

We have to remember that not all HIGH draftees are superstars. Some take time (humm....Hicks and Buxton, maybe).

  • jokin, LA VIkes Fan, Minny505 and 1 other like this

Joel Thingvall
www.joelthingvall.com
rosterman at www.twinscards.com


#4 TheLeviathan

TheLeviathan

    Twins News Team

  • Members
  • 15,168 posts

Posted 24 September 2018 - 09:29 PM

I'm not in a rush to dump them, but they'll have to show more not to be labeled a flop.The position they were drafted at necessitates a larger contribution than they are currently showing.

 

If these were late first round picks...ok.But they weren't.

  • birdwatcher, Mike Sixel, d-mac and 1 other like this

#5 USAFChief

USAFChief

    Anyone got a smoke?

  • Twins Mods
  • 21,904 posts
  • LocationTucson

Posted 24 September 2018 - 10:30 PM

The Jay pick was really awful. That’s not “unlucky.” That was a stretch, and not a good one.
  • Blake, Mike Sixel, gil4 and 18 others like this

Cutting my carbs...with a pizza slicer.


#6 mlhouse

mlhouse

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 553 posts

Posted 24 September 2018 - 11:20 PM

The problem with the Twins draft and minor league development goes way beyond these issues.Look at the top picks in recent drafts that can be reasonably evaluated:

 

2015 1st roundTyler Jay

 2nd round Kyle Cody

 

 Reached Majors Andrew Vasquez (32)

 

2014 1stNick Gordon

 2ndNick Burdi

 

 Reached Majors:Burdi, John Curtiss (5), Trevor Hildenberer (22)

 

2013 1stKohl Stewart

2nd Ryan Eades

 

Reached MajorsStewart, Turner(3), Gonsalves(4), Slegers(5), Garver(9), Granite(14)

 

2012 1st Buxton

 Supp JJ Berrios,Luke Bard

 2nd Melotakis, JT Chargois

 

Reached Majors Buxton, Berrios, Bard, Chargois, Duffy(5), Taylor Rogers(11)

 

20111st Levi Michaels

Supp Travis Harrison, Hudson Boyd

2nd Madison Boer

 

Reached MajrsDereck Rodriguez(6)Jason Wheeler (8)

 

 

Since 2015 the organization has virtually struck out on top level picks with the exception of J.J. Berrios and several question marks. The major league draft has contributed almost nothing to this organization as it attempted to rebuild after disastrous season after disastrous season.

 

The draft has produced one solid starting pitcher (Berrios) and two limited reliever (Hildenberger, Rogers). 

 

On the 2018 roster, just one part time positional player was a draft pick, Mitch Garver playing in his first full time season at the age of 27. Buxton is an enigma trapped in a riddle that to this point has been a signficant disappointment at best. 

 

 Several younger players might or might now be guys the team can work with in the future, but most of those have not been given much of a chance to prove themselves, includin Vasquez, Gonsalves, and Stewart, as well as Nick Gordon who has not reached the majors yet.  

 

Most of the others that have reached the majors have been passed by or do not have much chance left:John Curtiss, Nick Burdi,Aaron Slegers, Zack Granite, Luke Bard, JT Chargois, Tyler Duffy, Jaason Wheeler.

 

An interesting name that has reached the major leagues was Dereck Rodriguez.He started 20 games for the Giants this season, posting a 2.50 ERA.Rodriguez pitched 6 years in the Twins organization and never was given a chance.Some of the time was used converting him as a pitcher,but the Twins methodically moved him throgh the organization without giving him a chance of making it to the big leagues and when he became eligible to get free agency he moved to a new organization that did.

  • glunn, Blake, Riverbrian and 18 others like this

#7 rdehring

rdehring

    Chattanooga Lookouts

  • Members
  • 684 posts

Posted 25 September 2018 - 06:58 AM

Your post, Nick, raises many questions.The above comment from mlhouse points out how really ugly the recent past draft decisions have been.

 

I have been as down on Stewart as anyone the past few years.After an ugly first couple games, he is showing some promise that he could develop into a solid middle of the rotation starter (#3-#4).Spring will determine where he starts 2019.It will likely be back at Rochester, but that's ok.  

 

I am fearful that Tyler Jay will be out of the organization come December.The Twins most likely won't add him to the 40-man and some team may take a flyer on him.Although he has shown little to encourage us, watch him become a shut down late inning reliever for someone else a few years down the road...or not.

 

Is it possible the Twins Daily staff could have reviewed public scouting information and drafted better than the Twins from 2011 thru 2015? 

  • tarheeltwinsfan, d-mac, Minny505 and 1 other like this

#8 Nick Nelson

Nick Nelson

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 3,471 posts

Posted 25 September 2018 - 08:35 AM

 

The problem with the Twins draft and minor league development goes way beyond these issues. 

Great post. You're right, Stewart and Jay are only microcosms of a roundly unfruitful draft/development strategy over a 5-6 year span, at a time where the organization could ill afford it. 

  • Riverbrian, tarheeltwinsfan, d-mac and 2 others like this

#9 Shaitan

Shaitan

    Chattanooga Lookouts

  • Members
  • 785 posts

Posted 25 September 2018 - 08:43 AM

While I get that being a 1st round pick gives players advantages and expectations, once they put on a minor league uniform they're on equal footing with the rest of their teammates. I don't care where a player was drafted; I care what he does in the future. They have 30-some rounds for a reason.

 

Some players figure it out as they mature. Span comes to mind, though OF and P are clearly different scenarios. His minor league numbers were nothing that excited anyone, but he put together an above-average MLB career. Here's to hoping both Stewart and Jay turn the corner. I have more faith in the former at this point. Jay's medical history doesn't look promising.


#10 snap4birds

snap4birds

    Cedar Rapids

  • Members
  • 94 posts

Posted 25 September 2018 - 08:52 AM

 

 

That Kay didn't get a call to AAA will hurt him for Rule 5 consideration.

 

 

 

 

 

Not anymore.The Padres have taken guys out of A ball in the past.Allen Cordoba hadn't even appeared in high-A, just rookie league in 2016 and they drafted him, kept him on the ML roster in 2017 and he spent this past year down in A ball.  

They also drafted Luis Perdomo after his highest level was the FSL (high A).  

If a team knows it's tanking, and they see someone with promise, what do they have to lose if they have a roster spot open?

 

  • Minny505, caninatl04 and Original Whizzinator like this

#11 tarheeltwinsfan

tarheeltwinsfan

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 755 posts

Posted 25 September 2018 - 09:09 AM

I realize that many are drafted, but few excel.However that does not mean that the draft is merely the luck of the draw, does it? I would contend that sabermetrics are not very helpful in predicting the future major league success of a high school or college baseball player. So I ask, what information most accurately predicts future success in the major leagues? Can it be quantified?

  • h2oface, Original Whizzinator and rdehring like this

#12 JLease

JLease

    Ft Myers

  • Members
  • 278 posts

Posted 25 September 2018 - 09:56 AM

 

Great post. You're right, Stewart and Jay are only microcosms of a roundly unfruitful draft/development strategy over a 5-6 year span, at a time where the organization could ill afford it. 

 

which is unquestionably a major reason why we have a new front office.

 

the strategy of drafting college relievers to turn them into starters was a major bust. Much as I like out of the box thinking and trying to find an efficiency no one else might be capitalizing on, this one was a serious fail. I can't think of a single reliever we successfully converted into a starter in this period. Ugh.

 

Kohl Stewart is an interesting case. The twins make have been fortunate he slipped through the Rule 5 draft last year, because he's got some things that are working for him. Inducing tons of ground balls, keeping the ball in the park, and frequent weak contact can be a successful formula...but he's got to improve the control. The free passes will keep him in borderline status if he can't reign them in. he's going to have enough base runners as it is when balls inevitably bleed through, so handing out extras via walks will make him a guy who simply can't get through enough innings.

 

but he's interesting. He's not that old. He's got a couple of pitches that are working for him. If the team can just refine that approach a little, sharpen his pitches up a little, improve that control a bit...he could be a guy that could chew up a lot of a innings for you and keep you in games.

 

With the focus on launch angle and power hitting, and so many players not worrying about Ks...maybe there's a place for a guy who induced wimpy grounders. Maybe he could be a guy that frustrates the crap out of these power hitters who can't quite square up on his stuff. but he's got to throw more strikes, because right now the book on him is going to be "don't chase anything".

  • Nick Nelson, Mike Sixel and Ben Noble like this

#13 Mike Sixel

Mike Sixel

    Now living in Oregon

  • Members
  • 26,974 posts

Posted 25 September 2018 - 10:01 AM

 

I realize that many are drafted, but few excel.However that does not mean that the draft is merely the luck of the draw, does it? I would contend that sabermetrics are not very helpful in predicting the future major league success of a high school or college baseball player. So I ask, what information most accurately predicts future success in the major leagues? Can it be quantified?

 

It certainly isn't luck based, not entirely. I think people confuse predictability and variance with luck a lot.......but there is some luck even in the models, as it were. Early picks consistently outperform later picks, indicating that it isn't just random at all....Of course things are quantified, I suggest visiting Fangraphs' new prospect page, where they talk about how they rank minor league players....that gets into both the scouting and the statistics that are used.

 

Jay being this bad is a shock. I thought he'd at least be a good RP by now....I don't fault the Stewart pick at all really.

 

And no, you can't just trade for them a year later. No one is trading a guy 1 year into the minors that looks like a star, not unless you are giving up a very good/great MLB player. How many of those can you give up. Of course you have to pay draft picks....

  • Monkeypaws, big dog, DocBauer and 3 others like this

There's always next year, or the next, or maybe by the time I'm Chief's age, I guess....


#14 gunnarthor

gunnarthor

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 9,157 posts

Posted 25 September 2018 - 10:12 AM

I think Stewart is unfinished and I think Jay won't be a Twin much longer. 

 

 

  • Mike Sixel, Twins33, big dog and 4 others like this

#15 bobs

bobs

    Cedar Rapids

  • Members
  • 179 posts

Posted 25 September 2018 - 10:30 AM

 

The problem with the Twins draft and minor league development goes way beyond these issues.Look at the top picks in recent drafts that can be reasonably evaluated:

 

2015 1st roundTyler Jay

 2nd round Kyle Cody

 

 Reached Majors Andrew Vasquez (32)

 

2014 1stNick Gordon

 2ndNick Burdi

 

 Reached Majors:Burdi, John Curtiss (5), Trevor Hildenberer (22)

 

2013 1stKohl Stewart

2nd Ryan Eades

 

Reached MajorsStewart, Turner(3), Gonsalves(4), Slegers(5), Garver(9), Granite(14)

 

2012 1st Buxton

 Supp JJ Berrios,Luke Bard

 2nd Melotakis, JT Chargois

 

Reached Majors Buxton, Berrios, Bard, Chargois, Duffy(5), Taylor Rogers(11)

 

20111st Levi Michaels

Supp Travis Harrison, Hudson Boyd

2nd Madison Boer

 

Reached MajrsDereck Rodriguez(6)Jason Wheeler (8)

 

 

Since 2015 the organization has virtually struck out on top level picks with the exception of J.J. Berrios and several question marks. The major league draft has contributed almost nothing to this organization as it attempted to rebuild after disastrous season after disastrous season.

 

The draft has produced one solid starting pitcher (Berrios) and two limited reliever (Hildenberger, Rogers). 

 

On the 2018 roster, just one part time positional player was a draft pick, Mitch Garver playing in his first full time season at the age of 27. Buxton is an enigma trapped in a riddle that to this point has been a signficant disappointment at best. 

 

 Several younger players might or might now be guys the team can work with in the future, but most of those have not been given much of a chance to prove themselves, includin Vasquez, Gonsalves, and Stewart, as well as Nick Gordon who has not reached the majors yet.  

 

Most of the others that have reached the majors have been passed by or do not have much chance left:John Curtiss, Nick Burdi,Aaron Slegers, Zack Granite, Luke Bard, JT Chargois, Tyler Duffy, Jaason Wheeler.

 

An interesting name that has reached the major leagues was Dereck Rodriguez.He started 20 games for the Giants this season, posting a 2.50 ERA.Rodriguez pitched 6 years in the Twins organization and never was given a chance.Some of the time was used converting him as a pitcher,but the Twins methodically moved him throgh the organization without giving him a chance of making it to the big leagues and when he became eligible to get free agency he moved to a new organization that did.

Boy that 2011 draft was something....

  • Oldgoat_MN, Danchat, d-mac and 1 other like this

#16 DocBauer

DocBauer

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 4,384 posts

Posted 25 September 2018 - 10:51 AM

I don't know if Stewart is better described as an enigma or Kelly and Hyde. Quality ERA, high ground ball %, extremely low HR totals, reports of low 90's velocity consistently and a slider that had real potential and overall success in his milb career, and even a bit of a surge in SO to begin this season. But the lack of control and lack of SO is both alarming and confusing.

We've been talking about Stewart for so long now,it's almost crazy to realize he's only 23yo! And despite repeating his odd pitching numbers at the ML level, as you state, he's actually getting some results. Youth, interesting SSS results, low HR totals, high ground ball % all give me some hope. If I'm not mistaken, the 1 seamer he's throwing now began just this season. Probably nothing more than a back end starter at best, or effective middle man, he's showing he has a chance.

Jay is an entirely different matter. I don't want to debate the whole RP to SP argument. Considering his arsenal and college usage, at least it made some sense at the time, in the absence of a better overall arm. But at worst, I also felt he'd be up as a dominant LHRP by now. And there is still real value in that. But at this point, for injury or whatever reason, he has yet to even dominate AA. He should absolutely go unprotected at this point. There are other 40 man candidates to keep, promote and push.

I hope he goes unclaimed and comes back. Sometimes a guy just gets right in body and mind and something starts to click. Maybe that's him in 2019? But right now, I'm afraid it's time to move on.
  • markos, Minny505, Original Whizzinator and 1 other like this

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

 

--Lou Brown


#17 Jacksson

Jacksson

    Cedar Rapids

  • Members
  • 102 posts

Posted 25 September 2018 - 10:56 AM

I still believe that teams that rely heavily on their minor league system to develop players SHOULD NOT be drafting high school players in the upper level draft picks. There is a weeding out process that takes place in college, in addition to the additional physical and mental maturity. With the limited amount of time to develop talent due to the restrictions of either losing them through the rule 5 draft or losing them as minor league free agents, let alone the necessity of keeping the pipeline of talent to the majors consistently primed, a draft focus on college players just makes sense.

#18 LA VIkes Fan

LA VIkes Fan

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 1,210 posts

Posted 25 September 2018 - 11:03 AM

The draft results are certainly underwhelming but i'm curious as to how that ranks with other organizations.Are there rankings available based upon objective data as compared to some guy's subjective views? I'd be curious as to what we should expect and how far off of the norm the Twins have been. I suspect it's a long way, but I would be interested to know how far off the norm we are.


#19 h2oface

h2oface

    Lifelong since '61

  • Members
  • 3,394 posts
  • LocationTralfamadore

Posted 25 September 2018 - 01:41 PM

At #24, in 2015, the Tyler Jay year, the Dodgers took Walker Buehler, who has been amazing this year. In 2009, at #25 (Kyle Gibson at #22), Mike Trout was finally selected by the Angels.

 

It is often said that these are outliers, and all (most) the teams passed, on these examples. They all used their stats and scouts and advanced stats of the time, and evaluated them as not worthy of the many failures that have become litter ahead of them.

 

Say what you want about the current way the stats are used to select the hierarchy of the draft. It fails way more often than it succeeds. Is there a better way? Maybe not. But I want the people making the selections that see the missing links, that picks guys like Walker Buehler and Mike Trout way ahead of the consensus group peer think. I guess that is too big of an order. Maybe it is all just luck after all, and the guys like Falvey and Levine could just as well be any other gambler.

 

 

  • Original Whizzinator likes this

#20 Thrylos

Thrylos

    Twins World Champions in 2019

  • Members
  • 9,665 posts
  • LocationLehigh Valley, PA, USA
  • Twitter: thrylos98

Posted 25 September 2018 - 02:17 PM

Can probably make the argument that the Twins have been lagging in draft quality since 2009 (Gibson) if not since 2002 (Span).Add some horrendous player development with the inability to trade prospects for proven players and you got a recipe for the disaster they have been...

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



Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: kohl stewart, tyler jay