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How Should the Twins Strategically Approach the MLB Draft?

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#1 Andrew Thares

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Posted 08 June 2020 - 07:59 PM

With the drastic alterations made to the 2020 MLB Draft, organizations will need to throw out their traditional model for the draft and come up with a strategy to best approach this year’s draft. While many teams will stay true to a simple plan, and number of teams might look to mix things up to get the most out of this draft.Ever since the bonus pool system came into effect, MLB teams have used a number of different strategies to bring in the best group of young talent that they could. For those who are unfamiliar with how the MLB Draft typically works, each pick in the first ten rounds is assigned a pick value. The cumulative total of the pick values a particular team has is what makes up their bonus pool. One strategy organizations have used to take advantage of this is drafting a player that demands more money than that pick is worth in an early round, then saving money sporadically throughout the rest of the first ten rounds to make up for that.

Under the current Minnesota Twins regime, the strategy has been quite the opposite. In the three drafts since they have taken over control, the Twins have actually been able to spend over their slot allotment after round five by an average total of $285,600 per year. They were able to do this because they incorporated a strategy of saving money in the first five rounds of the draft, so they could then target players that other teams had to pass on, because they couldn’t afford, them later in the draft.

One notable example of this came in last year’s draft when the Twins selected University of Auburn middle infielder Edouard Julien in the 18th round. Prior to the draft, Baseball America had ranked Julien as the 203rd best player in the draft, but he fell to the Twins at pick number 539 because teams were unable/unwilling to match his relatively high asking price. With money that the Twins had saved in early rounds of the draft, they were able to tap into their bonus pool money and sign Julien for $493,000, which is more bonus money than any other player taken after the 16th round received in last year’s draft.

With the alterations to the 2020 MLB Draft, the Twins will likely need to recraft their strategy so they can bring in the best players possible with the draft picks and bonus pool allotment that they have. For reference, here are the four picks that the Twins have in this year’s draft, and the bonus pool allotments associated with those picks.

Download attachment: Screen Shot 2020-06-08 at 8.52.03 PM.png

The Twins total bonus pool allotment for the draft stands at just $4,528,600, which is the 4th fewest in the MLB. It is worth noting that the Twins are without their Competitive Balance Round B selection, as they traded it to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Kenta Maeda trade, as well as with their 3rd round selection, which they gave up when they signed Josh Donaldson, who had turned down a qualifying offer from the Atlanta Braves.

So, let’s break down a few different strategies that the Twins front office could employ to best attack this year’s draft.

Aggressive Approach

The first strategy that we will look at will be going aggressive in the first round. Often times in the draft, good players at the top of most draft boards, especially high schoolers with a lot of leverage, tend to fall in the first round because of a high asking price. Given the conservative nature many teams will likely take to this year’s draft, it is highly likely that the Twins could find themselves in a position to pounce on a high caliber player, that they will need to overpay in order to sign. The Twins have just shy of $2 million in bonus pool money to work with from their rounds 2,4 and 5 picks that they could use to pay over slot with their first-round pick. However, if they do so, the Twins will need to be quite conservative with their remaining three picks, in order to stay within their total bonus pool allotment.

This strategy is reminiscent of what the New York Mets (along with a few other organizations to a lesser extent) used in the 2019 draft. For those that don’t recall, in the third round of last year’s draft the Mets decided to select Matthew Allen, a right-handed high school pitcher from the state of Florida. Allen was a highly regarded prospect in last year’s draft, so high in fact that I had him ranked as the 9th best prospect in that draft. Allen fell to the third round because teams felt he would be difficult to sign away from his commitment to the University of Florida. However, despite having already gone $310,000 above slot value on their first two picks, the Mets decided to take Allen anyway, which meant that they needed to save every penny that they could in order to sign him. To do this, the Mets proceeded to draft college seniors, who typically sign for $10,000 or less, with each of their next seven picks. If the Twins followed this strategy with their 4th and 5th round selections, they could free up roughly $750,000 to use with their first two picks.

Conservative Approach

On the other end of the spectrum, the Twins can look at their limited situation in this draft and decide not to get too cute, but just stay in line with the status quo. That means targeting players who will sign for approximately the same amount of money that the pick is worth. This strategy will prevent the Twins from getting into a bind with their last couple picks, by having to make decisions they wouldn’t otherwise make. From an outside perspective, this is a strategy I expect a lot of teams to use, so they don’t make a mistake with an alternative draft setup that has a lot of unanswered questions.

The negative to this strategy, however, is you run the risk of missing unforeseen opportunities by taking the same approach most of the other teams take. There might be a stud player who falls to one of the Twins picks, but instead of taking a chance on that player, you play it safe, and take someone cheaper, or vice versa, and you miss the chance to better utilize draft capital later in the draft.

Diversified Approach

The final strategic approach that we will look at for the Twins is an attempt to diversify their 2020 MLB Draft portfolio, by splitting up the funds more evenly amongst their four picks. With the nature of how the MLB Draft works, especially so this year, there will be a number of players with second or even first round grades that could fall into the fourth or fifth rounds. If the Twins wanted to, they could try and save a good chunk of money with their first-round pick, which accounts for nearly 57 percent of their total bonus pool, by drafting a player that will sign well under slot value, and then use that money to target players that are falling with their three remaining picks. This way, the Twins won’t be putting all of their eggs in one basket, per se, and instead could select as many as four players with top two round talent.

Getting more players with early round talent could be especially important this year, as teams will have a difficult time signing high quality players after the draft, given that they are limited to giving a $20,000 maximum signing bonus to players that go undrafted. This limited bonus could make it difficult for MLB teams to even sign college seniors away from the extra year of eligibility that they have been granted by the NCAA, let alone underclassmen or high schoolers.

As you can see, there are a number of different strategies that the Twins could take in this draft, and there are many more that are not even mentioned in this article that are probably being considered by the Twins. While the draft may be a lot shorter than normal, one thing is for certain, it will be exciting to see how the 30 MLB teams approach this unique draft format.

Let us know in the comments below which strategy you prefer, or if there is a strategic approach that you like, that was not mentioned above.

More 2020 MLB Draft Coverage
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#2 DocBauer

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Posted 08 June 2020 - 09:21 PM

The diversified approach makes the most sense on the surface. And while the FO has done a decent job of playing the salary game the past few drafts to shell out extra for a sliding player, this draft is only 5 rounds. So how much sliding will actually take place? Especially considering that HS players are almost guaranteed to go to college unless they are a TOP 2 round selection. Unless a team is going to overdraft a college senior who can't go back to school...and they are out there...or just doesn't want to, in a 5 round draft how many "steals" will be available to over-sign?

While the ML draft is ALWAYS a crap shoot, you don't want to just waste a draft selection either.

The system is healthy and one of the best and deepest around. It turns out this is one of the best and deepest college drafts in years, especially in regard to pitching. Now, all of this applies to ALL teams, not just the Twins. So you have to rely on your scouts and analytics perhaps even more, hoping you are smarter than most organizations. Do you become a gambling team and cross your fingers and hope any saved money pays off? Or do you get conservative and draft chalk?

For this draft, I'd trust my scouts and the new approach I have laid down over the last 3yrs. The Twins FO is not immune to absolute talent. But when it comes to pitching talent, they look very much to projectability. And that aspect may not be more true than this crazy year. And they know so much more about the prospects available than any of us, not only in regard to projection, but signability factors.

If there is a HS player they love and think they can get, go for it. But I would be focused 100% on college players. If there is a position player you love and believe in, grab him. But for this crazy, short 2020 draft, I would focus on the 4 best college arms I could find and run with it.
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#3 mlhouse

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Posted 09 June 2020 - 01:22 AM

I don't think the Twins draft strategy is that complicated this year.It is almost a certainty that the best player available at #27 is going to be a college starting RHP. 

 

TAKE THAT PLAYER AND DO NOT GET CUTE.

 

Mlodzinski. Cavalli.Cecconi.McMahon. Cole Wilcox. Bobby Miller.Bryce Jarvis.Clayton Beeter. Tanner Burns.  

 

Whatever order the draft board ranks them, take the top guy from that list.I would assume that every one of those players would sign for the #27 slot value and this pick is going to be solid value because this is a good deep class of college arms.

 

The outer picks are pretty much dictated by our slot positions and lack of a 3rd round pick.Even if we rescinded our 4th and 5th round picks, there isn't enough money there to put together a strong $2 million level bonus to buy a high school player out of his college commitment. 

 

So, target more college arms and perhaps a college catcher like Kevin Parada. 

 

The high upside players are going to be found in the undrafted free agent search although that will almost certainly be limited to college 4th year players. 

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#4 mikelink45

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Posted 09 June 2020 - 06:59 AM

I have never been able to get excited about the mlB draft.I have no idea who any of these players are.Unlike NFL the MLB has so much less coverage and the players have so little exposure, then there is the truth that it takes 3 - 5 years before the player is ready for the majors in most cases.I know they are trying to make it more of an event and TD is doing its part.So my personal strategy will be to wait three years and then look back.


#5 The Wise One

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Posted 09 June 2020 - 08:50 AM

Unless there is an unexpected and drastic fall by a pitcher similarly rated to Murphy the Twins will draft position players the first 2 round, pitchers the next 2. Total crapshoot if they can convince players who are not seniors to sign for 20K


#6 saviking

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Posted 09 June 2020 - 09:02 AM

I love the NFL draft and put together a sheet pre draft that lists the players I want and what round. There is a significant amount of study on my part but in baseball I just leave it up to the team. But once the pick is taken I follow all the Twins players through their mlb carrers, looking at every mlb (Twins) states every night before I go to bed.

 

As for strategy you have done a good job of laying out the alternate strategies but I don't believe you go into the draft with one of these strategy's unless you are pick at the top of the draft and have a pretty good idea of the top players. Only until you know the players at your disposal at 27 will you have the opportunity to chose a strategy. At 27 if one player you really like slips too you simply take him. If mulitple players then the strategy begins. 

 

What I'm as much interested this year is picking up quality free agents and I would prefer we spent our money on quality over quantity as are minor league is already stacked. 

 

The sad part is we will not be able to follow their progress untilnext year ... 


#7 rdehring

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Posted 09 June 2020 - 09:52 AM

I am comfortable sitting back and waiting to see what the Twins do. But I do have a question about your strategy that would have them save $$$ by drafting several college seniors whom they would pay $10,000, or so. Didn't the NCAA give those seniors the opportunity to return for another year because of COVID-19?That seems to give those seniors more leverage than in a normal draft, doesn't it?

 

Hopefully, they have another Ryan Jeffers on their board whom they can draft in round 2 and sign for round 4 dollars...and he turns out to be as good as Jeffers appears to be.

 

Now can we get the union to at least respond with a counter offer other than no so we really have something to get excited about later this week.

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#8 Andrew Thares

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Posted 09 June 2020 - 10:39 AM

 

I am comfortable sitting back and waiting to see what the Twins do. But I do have a question about your strategy that would have them save $$$ by drafting several college seniors whom they would pay $10,000, or so. Didn't the NCAA give those seniors the opportunity to return for another year because of COVID-19?That seems to give those seniors more leverage than in a normal draft, doesn't it?

 

Hopefully, they have another Ryan Jeffers on their board whom they can draft in round 2 and sign for round 4 dollars...and he turns out to be as good as Jeffers appears to be.

 

Now can we get the union to at least respond with a counter offer other than no so we really have something to get excited about later this week.

Yes that will be tougher than normal, but I am guessing there are still a number of players that would be willing to sign for lower amounts, otherwise what does MLB expect to happen with the post draft free agency, that has a cap of $20K.

 

Maybe the Twins aren't able to go as low as $10K, but they could offer $30K, $40K or even $50K and still free up $600K plus for that first pick.

 

It will be tougher than usual, no doubt, but could still be done.

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#9 DocBauer

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Posted 09 June 2020 - 12:20 PM

I am comfortable sitting back and waiting to see what the Twins do. But I do have a question about your strategy that would have them save $$$ by drafting several college seniors whom they would pay $10,000, or so. Didn't the NCAA give those seniors the opportunity to return for another year because of COVID-19? That seems to give those seniors more leverage than in a normal draft, doesn't it?

Hopefully, they have another Ryan Jeffers on their board whom they can draft in round 2 and sign for round 4 dollars...and he turns out to be as good as Jeffers appears to be.

Now can we get the union to at least respond with a counter offer other than no so we really have something to get excited about later this week.


College seniors can go back for another year or the NCAA, but there are catches there. 1] Can they afford to go back for another year of partial scholarship money and risk another year? 2] Is there money even available to them considering the state of athletics and funding across the country? 3] Will their school even let them come back? Wisconsin, for instance, stated they would not let seniors return as it was unfair to non athletes and the such who missed out.

I think if you're a college senior selected in these 5 rounds you are pretty motivated to sign up.
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#10 rdehring

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Posted 09 June 2020 - 01:07 PM

 

College seniors can go back for another year or the NCAA, but there are catches there. 1] Can they afford to go back for another year of partial scholarship money and risk another year? 2] Is there money even available to them considering the state of athletics and funding across the country? 3] Will their school even let them come back? Wisconsin, for instance, stated they would not let seniors return as it was unfair to non athletes and the such who missed out.

I think if you're a college senior selected in these 5 rounds you are pretty motivated to sign up.

Knowing where you are from, Doc, I was going to comment that my alma matre, that other Big Red, wasn't going to allow Seniors to return.That is before you beat me to it.Still don't understand why Barry made that decision, but expect he had his reasons. 


#11 DocBauer

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Posted 09 June 2020 - 02:47 PM

Knowing where you are from, Doc, I was going to comment that my alma matre, that other Big Red, wasn't going to allow Seniors to return. That is before you beat me to it. Still don't understand why Barry made that decision, but expect he had his reasons.


I also found his decision puzzling. I'm sure it can't be financial considering Big 10 money, but who knows. Wish I cod remember his exact comments, but again, something it not being fair to other seniors who weren't athletes losing out so no preferencal treatmen. Still puzzling to me.
"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

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#12 theBOMisthebomb

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Posted 09 June 2020 - 02:47 PM

In Falvine We Trust. This type of scenario was supposed to be where the geniuses would shine so I am trusting they will make lemonade out of lemons.
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#13 DocBauer

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Posted 09 June 2020 - 06:35 PM

FWIW, RHP Carmen Miodzinski from South Carolina has been mocked to the Twins a couple of times, including Baseball America. Read a mock today where SS Jordan Westburg from Miss St could go there. Big kid with hit and power potential who could stick at SS. I don't see it. Perfect year to go hard after good college arms.
"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

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