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Minnesota Twins 2020 MLB Draft Recap


The 2020 MLB Draft will go down in history for not only being just five rounds long, but for the lack of scouting teams were able to do in the months leading up to the draft, thanks to the seasons being cut short by the coronavirus. This created a whole new set of challenges for MLB organizations like the Minnesota Twins. So, let’s take a look at how the Twins faired with their four picks in this year’s draft.Prior to the draft, I looked into a number of different strategies that the Twins could use in this draft, specifically as how they could divvy up their signing bonus pool. One of the strategies outlined was a portfolio approach, where they would try to save money with their first couple of picks, in order to spread that money around into there last two picks, where the slot values are not as high.

 

Aaron Sabato

 

With their first-round pick, the Twins went to the college ranks to select UNC first-baseman Aaron Sabato. In his one full season in a Tar Heels uniform, Sabato put his powerful bat on full display, tallying 44 extra-base hits in just 64 games played. This included hitting for the cycle against rival North Carolina State on May 16th. Sabato is more than just raw power though, as he is a career .332 hitter at UNC, with a career .459 OBP in 83 games played.

 

It is hard not to see how Sabato fits into the Twins overall draft philosophy of drafting big and powerful bats, joining the ranks of Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach, Ryan Jeffers, Keoni Cavaco and Matt Wallner all taken in the early rounds in recent years. Since Sabato is a draft eligible sophomore, with a lot of potential, he likely will not sign for below the slot value of the 27th pick in the draft.

 

If you would like to read up more on Sabato, and see what Scouting Director Sean

Johnson had to say about him, you can do so here.

 

Alerick Soularie

 

Going into day two of the draft, the Twins had their sights set on Tennessee outfielder Alerick Soularie. He was a player that was circled high on their boards, and they didn’t feel like he would be there when they made their next pick after this one, a whole 69 picks later. Soularie began his college career at San Jacinto JC (the same JUCO that both Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite went to) where he lit up the competition on his way to a .402/.513/.745 slash line with 10 home runs in 59 games and lead his team to a third-place finish. This impressive performance opened the doors to a transfer to Tennessee, where he continued to have great success.

 

In his only full season for the Volunteers Alerick Soularie hit for an impressive .357/.466/.602 slash line, while going up against SEC pitching for the first time. His numbers were down slightly to start the 2020 season, before it got cut short. It is hard to know for sure from an outside perspective, but it seems like Soularie is a pick that the Twins should be able to sign for below the $1.19 million assigned to that slot. Which would allow the Twins to spend over slot, in order to sign each of their final two picks.

 

If you would like to read up more on Soularie, and see what Scouting Director Sean Johnson had to say about him, you can do so here.

 

Marco Raya

 

The only pitcher that the Twins selected in the draft was Marco Raya, a prep arm out of the state of Texas. Raya is a bit undersized, but he is a good athlete and excellent mechanics that helps him pump it up as high as 94 MPH without needing a lot of effort. Raya also throws two above-average breaking balls in a slider and curveball. Both pitches have potential to be plus pitches down the line. Finally, Raya also throws a pretty decent changeup, which gives him a rare four-pitch mix that not a lot of high schoolers have at this point in their development.

 

It will be a few years until we really know who Raya is as an MLB prospect (he’s still only 17-years old), but he has a bright future ahead of him. Being a high school player, committed to Texas Tech, the Twins will likely need to use some of the money saved on Soularie in order to sing him.

 

If you would like to read up more on Raya, and see what Scouting Director Sean Johnson had to say about him, you can do so here.

 

Kala'i Rosario

 

The Twins final selection in the 2020 MLB Draft was a high school bat, with a powerful profile in Kala’I Rosario. Rosario is a player that impressed a lot of scouts in the Area Code games last season. While there is a lot of work to do with his overall approach and swing at the plate, it is evident that Rosario has much raw power as any other prep player in the draft. While many other sites weren’t as high on Rosario, I fell in love with what this guy could potentially be if he is able to maximize his raw power, which is why he came in at number 73 on my final pre-draft rankings.

 

While Rosario might be far from a finished product, he has plenty of time to develop (he won’t turn 18 until July), and already has some great upside tools. As was the case with Raya, the Twins will probably need to go above slot value to sign Rosario, but they are confident that they will be able to get a deal worked out.

 

If you would like to read up more on Rosario, and see what Scouting Director Sean Johnson had to say about him, you can do so here.

 

In total, it was a very good draft for the Minnesota Twins, all things considered. Not only were they limited in the number of picks and time to scout these players, but they also had the 4th smallest signing bonus pool, which hampers a lot of what they could do in the draft. However, they came into this draft with a plan, and executed that to near perfection, and now the minor-league system has four new potential stars of the future. Great work by all of the scouts and other members of the organization that had a hand in this draft.

 

Let us know below what you thought of the Twins draft, and what letter grade you would give them.

 

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This years signings will be interesting.  With so much up in the air for next year, and an expected high number of players going to college, that being all undrafted high school players. Teams really will not be able to do as much moving money around.  Half the rounds really makes that an issue.  When you have 10 rounds you can take little from several players to add up to larger for one.  When you have 4 players like Twins, cannot move as much money.  

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What do you think the chances all 4 of them don’t sign? Or that all 4 do sign? Not a lot Of $ to move and shake with a lot of minor league uncertainty. I kind of have a feeling a lot of guys are going to opt to go to or go back to school this year.

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What do you think the chances all 4 of them don’t sign? Or that all 4 do sign? Not a lot Of $ to move and shake with a lot of minor league uncertainty. I kind of have a feeling a lot of guys are going to opt to go to or go back to school this year.

 

Twins expect to sign all four. Seth was on the conference call with Twins Scouting Director Sean Johnson:

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What do you think the chances all 4 of them don’t sign? Or that all 4 do sign? Not a lot Of $ to move and shake with a lot of minor league uncertainty. I kind of have a feeling a lot of guys are going to opt to go to or go back to school this year.

 

Yeah, they wouldn't have drafted them without knowing they would sign. 

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I thought the Twins drafted really well considering their limitations. Both of their first 2 picks look to me* as guys who will eventually make it to the big leagues. With how risky drafting pitchers is, and with only 4 picks, I like that they didn't draft a pitcher early just to do so, and got someone with big upside in the 4th round.

 

*not a scout

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Yeah, they wouldn't have drafted them without knowing they would sign. 

 

Prior to the draft, yes, I'm sure they had talked with a number of players, including these 4, about expectations around signing.  That being said, with so little margin for error, it doesn't take a whole lot for everything to blow up.  If both Sabato and Soularie all of the sudden decide they want slot, or they'll go back to school, the Twins probably can't sign Raya or Rosario.  If the demands for either Raya or Rosario go up as well, could be a problem.

 

I believe the front office did it's homework, and I have no reason to believe they won't be able to sign all 4, but it's far from a guarantee, and I won't feel confident about all 4 signing until they all actually do.

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I thought the Twins drafted really well considering their limitations. Both of their first 2 picks look to me* as guys who will eventually make it to the big leagues. With how risky drafting pitchers is, and with only 4 picks, I like that they didn't draft a pitcher early just to do so, and got someone with big upside in the 4th round.

 

*not a scout

 

This is a good point. There aren't any sure things in the late first round. So they picked out a guy with an elite tool (power, and probably Hit too)... He's close and will almost certainly be a big leaguer. There's value in that. Soularie is  similar.

 

I just love the upside of Raya and Rosario. 

 

 

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I’m pretty underwhelmed. Sabato is ok, but I don’t like drafting 1b-dh that high. Soularie can’t play d and is worse than most outfielders already in the system. I don’t think Raya has much upside, I hope I’m wrong. Rosario is the only one I liked. Of course I’m no expert. I hope they all prove me wrong

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This is a good point. There aren't any sure things in the late first round. So they picked out a guy with an elite tool (power, and probably Hit too)... He's close and will almost certainly be a big leaguer. There's value in that. Soularie is  similar.

 

I just love the upside of Raya and Rosario. 

I guess I am looking at the draft as so-so because it had been reported to be strong with college arms, and the Twins got none.  Was hoping that they would have found the next Kluber or someone like that.  

 

But considering that most drafts yield two or three guys that even make it to the big leagues, it only takes one to become a solid starter and it is a good draft.  You will all know in five years or longer for the two young kids.

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I guess I am looking at the draft as so-so because it had been reported to be strong with college arms, and the Twins got none.  Was hoping that they would have found the next Kluber or someone like that.  

 

But considering that most drafts yield two or three guys that even make it to the big leagues, it only takes one to become a solid starter and it is a good draft.  You will all know in five years or longer for the two young kids.

As a point of reference, like 2020, the 2015 draft class was supposed to be exceptionally strong pitching-wise (Brady Aiken, Dillon Tate, many others). Of the first 42 picks, 18 were pitchers. So far, 2 of 18 have produced 1 WAR or better, and very few still are thought to be likely to come through. (Although the 2 that did, #24 Buehler and #28 Soroka, have come through big time.) Bottom line is the failure rate on pitchers is so vastly higher than with position players that there is logic to taking your chances with later round pitching prospects. I mean, Cody Stashak #380, round 13 from 2015, is probably going to produce more than all but a half dozen pitchers from that entire 40 round draft. Andrew Vasquez, #950, round 32, got 9 games with the team in 2018 before injuries derailed him. So I think the Sabato selection is partly a function of a conviction that Falvey has that the talent differential diminishes quickly after a handful of guys and development capability is the secret sauce. That, and they must be in love with Sabato's potential.

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As a point of reference, like 2020, the 2015 draft class was supposed to be exceptionally strong pitching-wise (Brady Aiken, Dillon Tate, many others). Of the first 42 picks, 18 were pitchers. So far, 2 of 18 have produced 1 WAR or better, and very few still are thought to be likely to come through. (Although the 2 that did, #24 Buehler and #28 Soroka, have come through big time.) Bottom line is the failure rate on pitchers is so vastly higher than with position players that there is logic to taking your chances with later round pitching prospects. I mean, Cody Stashak #380, round 13 from 2015, is probably going to produce more than all but a half dozen pitchers from that entire 40 round draft. Andrew Vasquez, #950, round 32, got 9 games with the team in 2018 before injuries derailed him. So I think the Sabato selection is partly a function of a conviction that Falvey has that the talent differential diminishes quickly after a handful of guys and development capability is the secret sauce. That, and they must be in love with Sabato's potential.

Couldn't remember who we took in 2015, so went back and checked. You really didn't have to remind me that was the year we took Tyler Jay in the first round and Kyle Cody with the CBB pick. You are right, that sure didn't work. See that Cody was picked #189 the next year, so not signing and going back didn't work out to well for him either. Seemed to pitch ok in the lower levels of the minors, but didn't pitch at all in 2019...assume he was injured.  

 

A bigger question was if it was so strong with pitchers, why did we take Tyler Jay? But your example points out how big of a crap shoot it is. Supports my contention that the bonuses paid to the first couple rounds should be cut substantially with those saved dollars going to double the pay to all of the minor league players. Maybe if I say that often enough someone will see it and do something.

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A bigger question was if it was so strong with pitchers, why did we take Tyler Jay? 

I've seen comments you have made in other threads saying you were hoping the Twins would draft the next Chris Sale this year. I suspect Tyler Jay, who is a lanky LHP with the FB/SL combo Sale has perfected, fit that intent. Just goes to show how challenging it is to draft someone who reaches that potential.

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I would have liked to have seen them draft a college pitcher in round 1 and I thought there was a lot of value there when we selected.  I think we really need to start looking at using the system to bolster the 3-4 starters in the rotation because as Kepler and others move towards the end of their current contracts the finances might get a tighter and the opportunity to spend money on that part of the rotation will not be available.

 

I also have some concern that the top players in the farm systems are going to start to converge on each other.   This has been a problem for hte Twins in the past because they rarely trade minor league prospects.  This becomes especially problematic when those players do not have much positional versatility.  

 

Larnach, Rooker, Kirillof, and Jeffers (maybe he can stay at catcher).  Even Royce Lewis staying in the infield is questionable.  Now you add Sabato and Soularie as two more positionally limited hitters to push quickly through the system.

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I would have liked to have seen them draft a college pitcher in round 1 and I thought there was a lot of value there when we selected.  I think we really need to start looking at using the system to bolster the 3-4 starters in the rotation because as Kepler and others move towards the end of their current contracts the finances might get a tighter and the opportunity to spend money on that part of the rotation will not be available.

 

I also have some concern that the top players in the farm systems are going to start to converge on each other.   This has been a problem for hte Twins in the past because they rarely trade minor league prospects.  This becomes especially problematic when those players do not have much positional versatility.  

 

Larnach, Rooker, Kirillof, and Jeffers (maybe he can stay at catcher).  Even Royce Lewis staying in the infield is questionable.  Now you add Sabato and Soularie as two more positionally limited hitters to push quickly through the system.

I get your concerns, but have a couple of thoughts. First, Falvey has already departed from Ryan's past history of over-valuing and hoarding prospects. He parted with high draft picks and a Top 5 prospect in the Donaldson/Maeda transactions for example, and they've articulated clearly that trading prospects is something they're going to do. They've traded several other highly-regarded prospects, too.

 

Second, my guess is that they don't believe they need a half dozen positionally unlimited players on the roster. Maybe they'd prefer that a couple of these top guys were more skilled defensively, that's valid, but i question how much of a concern that is at this point. Larnach, Kirilloff, and Jeffers may not be great defenders, and aren't veratile, but they aren't slouches either. Rooker? Yeah...

 

It would be fun to run an exercise based on an assumption we're all still TD pals in 2025. Pick your favorite available pitching prospect, and then your next two fallback pitching prospects. You'll have a huge advantage of ignoring all the price tag stuff. For example, you might pick Cole Wilcox, who fell due to bonus demands, demands which would have prevented the Twins from considering over-slot prospects Raya and Rosario most likely. Let's see how Sabata stacks up in five years against those three choices. My guess is that one out of the three fares better. And maybe we don't care about that too much because Rosario or Raya are the real deal. 

 

So, like you, I would like another Berrios signing every year. It will be interesting to see if Falvey is as adept at developing elite pitching as some think he will be. Deliberations continue.

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A bigger question was if it was so strong with pitchers, why did we take Tyler Jay?

 

Answer: because when Terry Ryan came back as GM he had lost touch with the game and we were absolutely AWFUL at drafting in those years. With the top of 2012 being the lone exception although outside Berrios and Buxton that draft was pretty bad too. We had some real clunkers during that time. Jay was a terrible pick at the time and an even worse one in retrospect, basically no one wanted us to pick him but TR had this thing at the time where he believed that converting college relievers to starters was a really good idea and the experiment turned out to be a massive failure.

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I get your concerns, but have a couple of thoughts. First, Falvey has already departed from Ryan's past history of over-valuing and hoarding prospects. He parted with high draft picks and a Top 5 prospect in the Donaldson/Maeda transactions for example, and they've articulated clearly that trading prospects is something they're going to do. They've traded several other highly-regarded prospects, too.

 

Second, my guess is that they don't believe they need a half dozen positionally unlimited players on the roster. Maybe they'd prefer that a couple of these top guys were more skilled defensively, that's valid, but i question how much of a concern that is at this point. Larnach, Kirilloff, and Jeffers may not be great defenders, and aren't veratile, but they aren't slouches either. Rooker? Yeah...

 

It would be fun to run an exercise based on an assumption we're all still TD pals in 2025. Pick your favorite available pitching prospect, and then your next two fallback pitching prospects. You'll have a huge advantage of ignoring all the price tag stuff. For example, you might pick Cole Wilcox, who fell due to bonus demands, demands which would have prevented the Twins from considering over-slot prospects Raya and Rosario most likely. Let's see how Sabata stacks up in five years against those three choices. My guess is that one out of the three fares better. And maybe we don't care about that too much because Rosario or Raya are the real deal. 

 

So, like you, I would like another Berrios signing every year. It will be interesting to see if Falvey is as adept at developing elite pitching as some think he will be. Deliberations continue.

 

I don't know what they are basing the claims Jeffers is a good defensive catcher, I have seen him play several times in Ft Myers and he isn't very good defensively.  

 

One thing is for sure is that they are not planning on signing Eddie Rosario after 2021, if they do not move him before that.  I would have to believe they would love to move Larnach into LF this season if they could make a deal.

 

And while these GMs have made a deal with prospects, they are still very conservative with them.

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I wonder how often the Twins would have drafted someone picked by one of the ten (for example) teams who drafted in front of them. There must be some who the Twins liked and had an idea what it would take to sign them. How much communication is there between teams (we are going to take X if he is available)? 

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I do not think that drafted high school players or draft eligible 3rd year college players will be that hard to sign. Since there is only 5 rounds the money the Twins will be able to offer will still be substaintial. Close to a half million. I would think with all the uncertainty this year not signing could backfire. Turning down that much money to try again next year (Sabato and Soularie) or even in three years (Raya and Rosario). Next years draft will have more draft eligible players than this year. Who is 100% certain there is a season next year? I do not think that Sabato or Soularie will want to gamble that much money. CBA agreement is up in 2021 so if you are a high school player that turns down half a million you are going to be eligible in three years in a draft that you have no idea what the rules are. Also the next few years financial outlook isn't all that great. Take the money start on your career. I think they sign all four and very soon.

 

I think signing undrafted college players will be much harder due to the $20,000 limit. Not all schools are giving seniors the opportunity to return to school next year. The Twins may be able to find a few this way. They will need to sell their development plan for these players.  It will be like college recruiting. Only with legal $20,000 payments.

 

 

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I guess I am looking at the draft as so-so because it had been reported to be strong with college arms, and the Twins got none.  Was hoping that they would have found the next Kluber or someone like that.  

 

But considering that most drafts yield two or three guys that even make it to the big leagues, it only takes one to become a solid starter and it is a good draft.  You will all know in five years or longer for the two young kids.

I tend to agree w/ you about being kind of disappointed w/ the draft, hoping to pick up a college arm within a great pool. I guess my focus is different than the Twins FO. They like to stress big bats, where I`d like to focus on arms. Hoping to become more like CLE & LA to become an ace factory that cranks them out on a regular basis. Hitting is important but so is defense. But still hope the best for our new Twins

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Jay was a solid pick, and by no means a reach. I believe it was FanGraphs that had him up to number #3 a week before the draft. Take a look at how the Astros did when they had 1-1 picks 2 years in a row. Also, why would you let a college coach make the final determination on who is a starter and who is a reliever?

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I would have liked to have seen them draft a college pitcher in round 1 and I thought there was a lot of value there when we selected.  I think we really need to start looking at using the system to bolster the 3-4 starters in the rotation because as Kepler and others move towards the end of their current contracts the finances might get a tighter and the opportunity to spend money on that part of the rotation will not be available.

 

I also have some concern that the top players in the farm systems are going to start to converge on each other.   This has been a problem for hte Twins in the past because they rarely trade minor league prospects.  This becomes especially problematic when those players do not have much positional versatility.  

 

Larnach, Rooker, Kirillof, and Jeffers (maybe he can stay at catcher).  Even Royce Lewis staying in the infield is questionable.  Now you add Sabato and Soularie as two more positionally limited hitters to push quickly through the system.

 

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You are correct with your assessments but that's where using some of these players as trade bait comes in even it means trading some players ready for the majors or a selective one or two in the majors for high upside minor leaguers deeper in the minors.

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I haven’t seen Jeffers catch but I did read articles about his improved defense at catcher from MLB, BA and this one during the spring.

 

https://www.milb.com/news/toolshed-ryan-jeffers-trying-to-become-minnesota-twins-threat-313325916

 

I don’t think the Twins see players as fixed in their skills but rather look for players who they believe can develop skills that can help. Jeffers was a poor defensive catcher at the time of the draft but that isn’t a label he needed to keep. Soularie may not be a starting CF or maybe there are things that are hard to see that he does really well like first step and routes. If not OF, do they see a starting 2B or see a utility guy that can be developed to fill in at 6 positions?

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So how does signing undrafted free agents work now? Is there any limitations on bonuses? 

Players are limited to signing bonuses of a maximum of $20,000, which means it will likely be exclusively college seniors signing, as opposed to going back for their extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA.

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