Grading Derek Falvey's Drafts
With the minor leagues essentially done for the year, it’s a fair time to review the Derek Falvey’s performance through the drafts. Falvey has been in charge of the Twins’ front office for 5 drafts now, though there’s not close to enough data to judge the 2021 draft group’s actual playing performance.
I believe Derek Falvey’s job has 6 major components, in no particular order. 1. MLB on field performance. 2. Free agency signings. 3. Trades. 4. Player conduct. 5. Drafting. 6. Player development.
Drafting should be considered separate from player development as they’re not the same thing. Drafting involves identifying pre-professional talent while players are outside the organization and player development is all about finding the ways to improve players while in the system. For example, getting a 10th rounder to produce at the MLB level has almost nothing to do with the draft; that’s all player development.
I’m concentrated on the first 3 rounds of the draft, which include Competitive Balance A and Competitive Balance B picks and works out to just about 100 players even in most years. Obviously, a 1st round / CBA is much more important than a 2nd round / CBB pick and then a 3rd rounder drops off more. I’ve chosen to grade the overall draft results on that scale. First Round/CBA = a multiplier of 2.00. Second Round/CBB = a multiplier of 1.50. 3rd Round = a multiplier of 1.00. My grades are subjective, based on performance of the pick, whether or not the front office reached to get the pick, how quickly the pick has advanced and my opinion of the projected performance of the pick at this point. I didn’t ding the Twins for any of the lost CBA/CBB picks due to free agency signings or trades except Hughes. The Twins essentially traded their late 2nd rounder, a CBB pick in 2019 for a little cash; that’s an absolute dereliction of duty and it’s worth a grade.
- Huge Reach = 2+ rounds ahead of MLB.com projection
- Reach = 1 round ahead of MLB.com projection
- Aggressive = ½ round ahead of MLB.com projection (i.e. CBA instead of 2nd round)
- On Par = In the round where projected, within a reasonable distance of expected. (i.e. picked 20th overall when projected at 25th)
- Deal = 1 round behind MLB.com projection
- Steal = 2+ rounds behind MLB.com projection
|2017||Player||Grade||MLB Draft #||Actual Draft #||Selection Range||Analysis||Draft||Age||Level||Last Perf.||Progress||Projection|
|1st||Royce Lewis||C||5||1||1-30 (Rnd1)||On Par||High School||22||AA||D||C||B|
|CBA||Brent Rooker||C||50||35||31-36 (CBA)||Aggressive||College||26||MLB||B||D||C|
|2nd||Landon Leach||F||101||37||37-67 (Rnd2)||Reach||High School||21||A-||F||F||F|
|3rd||Blayne Enlow||C||29||76||76-105 (Rnd3)||Steal||High School||22||A+||C||D||C|
|2018||Player||Grade||MLB Draft Proj #||Actual Draft #||Selection Range||Analysis||Draft||Age||Level||Last Perform||Progress||Projection|
|1st||Trevor Larnach||C||26||20||1-30 (Rnd1)||On Par||College||24||MLB||C||B||D|
|2nd||Ryan Jeffers||B||>200||59||44-78 (Rnd2)||Huge Reach||College||24||MLB||D||A||C|
|3rd||Forfeit for Lynn 1yr||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|2019||Player||Grade||MLB Draft Proj #||Actual Draft #||Selection Range||Analysis||Draft Age||Age||Level||Last Perform||Progress||Projection|
|1st||Keoni Cavaco||F||28||13||1-30 (Rnd1)||Aggressive||High School||20||A-||F||C||F|
|CBA||Matt Wallner||D||60||39||31-41 (CBA)||Aggressive||College||23||A+||C||C||F|
|2nd||Matt Canterino||B||46||54||42-69 (Rnd2)||On Par||College||23||A+||A||C||A|
|CBB||Forefeit (to trade Hughes)||F||Total Failure||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|3rd||Spencer Steer||C||>200||90||79-107 (Rnd3)||Huge Reach||College||23||AA||C||A||C|
|2020||Player||Grade||MLB Draft Proj #||Actual Draft #||Selection Range||Analysis||Draft Age||Age||Level||Last Perform||Progress||Projection|
|1st||Aaron Sabato||C||41||27||1-29 (Rnd1)||Reach||College||22||A+||B||B||D|
|2nd||Alerick Soularie||D||105||59||38-60 (Rnd2)||Huge Reach||College||22||A-||D||C||C|
|CBB||Forefit in Maeda Trade||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|3rd||Forefit for Donaldson||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|2021||Player||Grade||MLB Draft Proj #||Actual Draft #||Selection Range||Analysis||Draft Age||Age||Level||Last Perform||Progress||Projection|
|1st||Chase Petty||A||27||26||1-29 (Rnd1)||On Par||High School||18||Rk||Pass||C||N/A|
|CBA||Noah Miller||C||62||36||31-36 (CBA)||Aggressive||High School||18||Rk||Pass||C||N/A|
|2nd||Steve Hajjar||C||100||61||37-63 (Rnd2)||Reach||College||20||N/A||Inc.||D||N/A|
|3rd||Cade Povich||D||>250||98||72-101 (Rnd3)||Huge Reach||College||21||A-||Pass||B||N/A|
When reviewing the drafts, it seems apparent Derek Falvey believes his front office is a significantly better judge of player talent than MLB.com as he frequently drafts players well ahead of MLB.com’s projections. This doesn’t mean Falvey is wrong. MLB.com is just one source and it would be expected the Twins scouts could be superior to MLB.com’s. Draft picks routinely shift around during the season depending on their performance leading right up to the draft. Regardless, MLB.com’s projections are usually pretty close to other sources which makes for a good baseline as to the scouting world in general. If Falvey’s front office and scouting department is better, it should show up in the advancement and development of players.
So how do things look? Well, in a nutshell, I’d give the front office a C- overall with a GPA of 1.76, but it’s a very incomplete picture. I believe 2022 will be critical to evaluating Falvey’s drafts. Lewis, Rooker, Larnach and Cavaco are on their last year of grace period to “prove it.” While Rooker and Larnach get major points for making it to the big show, neither has performed well enough to stick around.
From a pitching standpoint, Falvey has only drafted 1 first round pitcher in 5 years and 8 chances. For the most part, Falvey has chosen guys with good breaking pitch offerings who were down the rankings a bit and focused on hitters with the highest picks. The only 1st rounder choice was 100mph high school flame thrower Chase Petty earlier this year. Petty received mixed rankings, but MLB was about as bullish on him as anybody else and Petty made his 1 start at the FCL Twins this year. Landon Leach, Matt Canterino and Steve Hajjar make up the 2nd round pitching selections. 2 of the 3 are big reaches and Leach is already a total bust. Canterino’s performance is a saving grace here as his injury history has slowed his advancement while Hajjar didn’t make a competitive appearance this year. 3rd rounders include Blayne Enlow and Cade Povich. Enlow was projected high, but velocity drops and concerns over signing him let the Twins save up some slot money and get the chance to make a run at him. Enlow’s situation sort of mirror’s Canterino’s. Injuries have derailed his advancement. Povich is just a head scratcher. He was way, way down almost all prospect lists if he even appeared at all. Prospectslive.com had him at 537, but the Twins apparently liked enough of what they saw to send him to the Low-A Ft. Myers Miracle.
Falvey has shown a strong affinity for aggressively pursuing bat only players with lots of power and not a lot of anything else. Rooker, Wallner and Sabato are all one tool wonders and all were a bit of a reach. Larnach is now in the same boat after his advanced eye at the plate turned out to be outmatched against more talented pitching. If they don’t rake, they’re busts and finding spots for all of those guys would be impossible on the roster, but it would also mean the drafts were hugely successful. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Rooker and Larnach are not getting the job done with Wallner advancing too slowly for his draft position and experience and Sabato narrowly avoiding a “bust” moniker this year with a hot last couple months. Soularie, another bat heavy big reach, has a little more defensive potential so the Twins are trying to see if he can stick at 2B. The Twins have also gone for the athleticism over everything approach a couple times with Royce Lewis and Keoni Cavaco. Lewis is the one Falvey really can’t afford to miss on. Lewis was a first overall pick who hasn’t played competitively in 2 years and wasn’t nearly good enough when he did play, but he’s such a gifted athlete with such a great character that it’s believed he can still turn the corner. Cavaco… well, the best thing which can honestly be said about him right now is it’s still a little too early to call him a bust. That said, if Cavaco doesn’t pick it up big time, he will wear the title by mid 2022. The Twins reached a bit with him, and if you’re reaching for your first rounder, it’s important to pay off and the Twins doubled down by reaching for Wallner for the same draft. Spencer Steer completed the 3/3 reaches for hitters in 2019 and was an out of the park, 6 run, grand slam style reach for good measure, but at least he’s still showing a glimmer of promise with some fast promotions. I’m not sure who was driving the car in 2019 is what I’m sayin’ here. Thank goodness Canterino pitched well in between his injury woes or the 2019 draft would honestly be looking potentially catastrophic here.
Truthfully, draft results are finicky things to analyze, especially in the first 3-4 years and the loss of 2020's MiLB season really tightens the sample size here. Many quality MLB players have their hiccups in the minors or develop a little slower so the draft grades could really swing wildly next year. It would take quite a few things working out, but I could see the Falvey front office draft grade swinging all the way up into the C+ range next year… or tanking straight into F territory for that matter. I think it’s also important to consider this isn’t graded on a curve and a 2.00 GPA and a C grade for “average” isn’t a call to fire the front office; it means the front office is competent enough and doing their job well enough in a crazy competitive marketplace where many pieces have to fall into place to grade higher.