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6 Players the Twins May Take in the First Round of the MLB Draft


The MLB draft kicks off on Sunday. Here are profiles of six players the Twins may target with the 26th overall pick in the first round.

The 2021 MLB draft begins Sunday. Off the back of a strong 2020 season (those were fun times), the Twins first pick is at 26. The Twins also have the 36th pick as a competitive balance pick given to smaller market teams.

Pick 26 slot value: $2,653, 400

Pick 36 slot value: $2,045,400

Since their first draft with the Twins, the Falvey/Levine regime has established a clear pattern in their drafting. The majority of the players they have targeted with early picks have been high floor, college bats. Royce Lewis, Landon Leach, Blayne Enlow, and Keoni Cavaco are the notable early round high school exceptions. With the late position of the Twins first round pick, it’s overwhelmingly likely they will target a college player again, probably a hitter. 

Drafting late in round one is a lottery, and it’s incredibly difficult to predict who the Twins might take. Here are brief profiles of six names to watch on Sunday that the Twins have been linked to through draft position, scouting, or mock drafts.

Joe Mack, C, Williamsville East HS (NY)

HT: 6’0  Weight: 200  B/T: L/R

Age: 18

If the name Mack is familiar, it’s because Joe’s brother Charles is already in the Twins system. Joe is a better prospect than his brother and while he was linked with the Twins early in the process, he may come off the board sooner than 26. Mack is seen as a strong hitter who has a chance to hit for good power. Unsurprisingly, Mack isn’t a finished product defensively but made strong progress in 2020 giving him a good chance to stick behind the plate long term with a plus bat.

Adrian Del Castillo, C, Miami

HT: 5’11  Weight: 210  B/T: L/R

Age: 21

Del Castillo was first drafted by the White Sox in the 2018 draft as a then top 200 prospect. He is now one of the better college bats in the entire draft class. Castillo hit .284/.388/.411 through 51 games this season with Miami with 3 HR, 24 walks, and 28 strikeouts. There are concerns Del Castillo will not stick long term at catcher, requiring more of his power tool. Del Castillo trained this spring with Royals catcher Salvador Perez. The Twins have a proven track record of significantly improving catcher defense (see Jeffers and Garver), so if Del Castillo can recover his power stroke from his first two seasons at Miami, he may move quickly through the organization. 

Ethan Wilson, OF, South Alabama

HT: 6’1  Weight: 210  B/T: L/L

Age: 21

Wilson catapulted himself into the spotlight when he .345/.453/.686 with 17 home runs in his 2019 season, although against mediocre competition. He was impeded by an ankle injury in the first half of 2021 and started slowly. In his second half, he recovered, hitting .319/.450/.530 with eight home runs. Wilson can drive the ball to all fields and has good control of the strike zone with strong raw power. Wilson has a lot of attributes the Twins look for in college bats, and could be a solid contender for the 26th pick.

Jud Fabian OF, Florida

HT: 6’2  Weight: 195  B/T: R/L

Age: 20

Fabian is young draftee for a college hitter and played CF for Florida, showing outstanding defense. This spring, his bat came to life as he hit 20 home runs in 57 games which was tied for sixth in college baseball. Fabian strikes out a lot, particularly against breaking pitches, and will have to make adjustments to his swing to avoid an incredibly high K% as a professional hitter. He’s a mostly pull-side hitter with good power who will profile as a strong defensive outfielder. If he can develop his approach at the plate and control of the strike zone, Fabian could be a steal at 26.

Gavin Williams, SP, East Carolina

HT: 6’6 Weight: 255  B/T: L/R

Age: 22

Williams is a unit at 6’6, 255lbs. The East Carolina SP is the lone college pitcher the Twins have been consistently linked to in the pre-draft process. Williams sits comfortably in the mid 90s with his fastball and can reach triple digits. He has struggled with injuries and control throughout his college career until the spring of 2021. In his first ten starts this season, he managed a 1.46 ERA and 108 Ks through 68 innings with just 18 walks (yes, you read that correctly). Williams also offers a strong curveball, a slider, and a changeup.

Trey Sweeney, SS, Eastern Illinois

HT: 6’4  Weight: 185  B/T: L/R

Age: 21

Sweeney is a strong college bat who may end up as a corner infielder. This season he hit .382/.522/.712 with 14 home runs in 48 games. Sweeney has a big leg kick to his swing (similar to early Royce Lewis) that some feel he will need to adjust to have sustained success against professional pitching. Despite playing against mostly weaker competition, Sweeney performed well against the better pitchers he faced this spring. Sweeney has been one of the most steady and consistent options the Twins have been linked with throughout his college career.

Honorable mentions: 

Connor Norby, East Carolina 2B, Tyler Black, Wright State, 2B

Which of these prospects excites you the most? What are you interested in seeing the Twins do at 26?

 

 


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Thanks for the list!

I think it will be really interesting to see who the Twins draft with the first few picks this year. They obviously have a strong preference for college batters, but every article I've read say that group is the weakest part of the draft. Sean Johnson said that the depth of college bats is as thin as any draft he can remember, and the real strength of this draft is the college pitching.

Knowing that the Twins seem to have an aversion for college pitchers in the first three rounds (since Falvey/Lavine took over, Canterino is the only college pitcher they've drafted in the first three rounds), I wonder if the team will still pick a bat even if the college pitchers available are ranked slightly higher?

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14 minutes ago, chpettit19 said:

I was sick to my stomach when I read the comment about taking college bats because they won't be available later.  Look at what that has got them, lots of big powerful bats that strike out a lot with a home run once in awhile.  Meanwhile, their pitching is a disaster.  Come on guys, draft college pitchers with both of those Day 1 picks, two guys that can be playing for them in two or three years.  Other clubs do it, why won't the Twins?

As for the list above, Jamie, the only guy I want them to take is Williams.  They need pitching, and they need it now.  Taking another big bat or high school players sure doesn't help get them back in the hunt while some of us are still around to enjoy it.

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10 minutes ago, chpettit19 said:

Yeah they are going to stick to their current strategy and go with bats first it looks like.  I would love to see college arms that can move quickly personally but they seem to feel good about their current strategy so unlikely to change IMO.

I am hoping they split with a bat first and arm in the supplemental round but given the referenced article that seems unlikely now. If they do go hitter I hope they go for guys with good eye and low K rates.  Those are players that have seemed to work out the best for us.  When they go strictly for power they seem to flame out.

I am sure whoever they take I will hate the pick but that is just me.

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I pray that all of their hints at what they will be doing are out there to mislead others and they go out and draft a couple college pitchers.  Could they be so fortunate to have one turn out to be the next Chris Sale?  Didn't he make it to the Sox within a year or so of being drafted?

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2 hours ago, Mike Sixel said:

they really think that pitchers are just lying around in late rounds, and hitters aren't.....they've also devalued defense with their selections....how's that working?

I guess we'll find out how right they are in the next couple years. I have my doubts it is a sustainable path.

I would sure hope their strategy of drafting bats early is the product of hard data.  Perhaps you have seen an article that is the product research someone has done.  I just assumed it did not exist for public consumption because it would require more work and more cost than someone would put into something that was published. 

I am not going to criticize a strategy of favoring bats in the early rounds when I am not informed.  When you did this regarding signing the highest ranked international players, I did my own research.  It was not so extensive as the be conclusive.  However, I did look at the results from several years.  After getting a significant amount of information, IDK that I would ever sign an international prospect (16-17 yo) for more than 1.5M.  I would bet on taking two 1.5M guys or 3 1m guys over a $3M guy every time.  Point being, we sports fans tend to have rather firm opinions based on assumptions not supported in fact.

Where we agree is I hope any 1st or 2nd round pick is either a SS or CF.  Maybe a catcher but certainly not one that is questionable to stick at catcher.  While there are exceptions, those guys end up mediocre defenders in a non-premium position.  I would also hope they adapt their strategy if  college pitching happens to be exceptionally deep vs hitters being thin.

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58 minutes ago, Major League Ready said:

I would sure hope their strategy of drafting bats early is the product of hard data.  Perhaps you have seen an article that is the product research someone has done.  I just assumed it did not exist for public consumption because it would require more work and more cost than someone would put into something that was published. 

I am not going to criticize a strategy of favoring bats in the early rounds when I am not informed.  When you did this regarding signing the highest ranked international players, I did my own research.  It was not so extensive as the be conclusive.  However, I did look at the results from several years.  After getting a significant amount of information, IDK that I would ever sign an international prospect (16-17 yo) for more than 1.5M.  I would bet on taking two 1.5M guys or 3 1m guys over a $3M guy every time.  Point being, we sports fans tend to have rather firm opinions based on assumptions not supported in fact.

Where we agree is I hope any 1st or 2nd round pick is either a SS or CF.  Maybe a catcher but certainly not one that is questionable to stick at catcher.  While there are exceptions, those guys end up mediocre defenders in a non-premium position.  I would also hope they adapt their strategy if  college pitching happens to be exceptionally deep vs hitters being thin.

So, teams that take pitchers are just all wrong? I mean, other, successful, teams do draft pitchers in round 1 (like Tampa, even).

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43 minutes ago, Major League Ready said:

I would sure hope their strategy of drafting bats early is the product of hard data.  Perhaps you have seen an article that is the product research someone has done.  I just assumed it did not exist for public consumption because it would require more work and more cost than someone would put into something that was published. 

I am not going to criticize a strategy of favoring bats in the early rounds when I am not informed.  When you did this regarding signing the highest ranked international players, I did my own research.  It was not so extensive as the be conclusive.  However, I did look at the results from several years.  After getting a significant amount of information, IDK that I would ever sign an international prospect (16-17 yo) for more than 1.5M.  I would bet on taking two 1.5M guys or 3 1m guys over a $3M guy every time.  Point being, we sports fans tend to have rather firm opinions based on assumptions not supported in fact.

Where we agree is I hope any 1st or 2nd round pick is either a SS or CF.  Maybe a catcher but certainly not one that is questionable to stick at catcher.  While there are exceptions, those guys end up mediocre defenders in a non-premium position.  I would also hope they adapt their strategy if  college pitching happens to be exceptionally deep vs hitters being thin.

I haven't done research on drafting position players versus pitcher's early either but it seems with a cursory glance that hitters have a better chance of making it and even if a pitcher does make it they often don't play as long as hitters, due to injury.  I don't know if you read the link in the post above but Johnson was implying bats were in short supply this year so simple supply and demand would state go for the scarce resource first and the more plentiful later.  Which in a vacuum makes sense.

The Twins, however, currently have a MLB team with good hitters and some pretty good hitters in the MiLB pipeline.  They have good pitching in the MiLB pipeline but little to none on the MLB team.  They have approximately a 5 to 6 year window of fairly elite talent that they have assembled and are just missing good pitching to put them over the top.  We have seen 1st round college level pitchers move pretty fast through various teams systems so wouldn't it make sense to grab some early elite pitching and then even grab pitching late like they have been?  Buffering the quality arms in the system in case of injury or ineffectiveness with guys that could help in 2 to 3 years time while the window is still open. 

It just seems like if there is a year to break out of the simple supply and demand of the draft and go after a position of team need this is the year.  I mean Oranges might be scarce but if I already have plenty of them why not just buy more apples if that is what I really need?  I know that they want to balance their picks but they are deadline sellers and should be able to get hitting prospects easier than pitching prospects.  They could trade for hitters and take more pitching in a draft that apparently has more pitching than hitting in it.  I mean if every team followed the Twins philosophy there would be no pitchers taken in the first round of the draft.  I don't think it is a philosophy that has to be followed but I can see where Johnson is coming from.  Personally I just think it is short sighted given where this team is at.

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I think our best drafts,  2012, 2016, were because we focused on young talent that we could develop. Buxton, berrios, kiriloff, baddoo, mianda, rortvedt, balazovic, etc. 

Rooker is 26 in AAA? Larnich looks good but is already 24. Sabato (sp) is in the low minors, I think.  I dunno. Elite college bats are great (Kris Bryant) but I'm not sure, usually those guys sign out of high school for a reason. 

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I would stay away from Fabian. Wilson seems like the best player of those listed. Williams plays close to home and has been very good when ECU plays better schools. Norby is also a good player out of Pirate Nation. It's so hard to evaluate players where metal bats are used. I leave it to the experts and hope we can get 3-4 future major leaguers in any draft.

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I’m usually a bat first guy, if it’s a tie (always BPA). This year I am definitely in favor of going with a pitcher for their first pick. There are a handful I like so I hope at least one falls to the Twins and they actually take whoever that happens to be. 

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I would worry about taking Fabian early. Not only is there concern about high K rate but he bats right, throws left. Disregarding switch hitters that is the least common permutation of the four, but it's also the most disadvantageous. In 120 years of professional baseball only one R/L position player, Rickey Henderson, has ever made the HOF. So maybe in the second round or later if he's still on the board.

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On 7/9/2021 at 5:51 PM, Dman said:

I haven't done research on drafting position players versus pitcher's early either but it seems with a cursory glance that hitters have a better chance of making it and even if a pitcher does make it they often don't play as long as hitters, due to injury.  I don't know if you read the link in the post above but Johnson was implying bats were in short supply this year so simple supply and demand would state go for the scarce resource first and the more plentiful later.  Which in a vacuum makes sense.

The Twins, however, currently have a MLB team with good hitters and some pretty good hitters in the MiLB pipeline.  They have good pitching in the MiLB pipeline but little to none on the MLB team.  They have approximately a 5 to 6 year window of fairly elite talent that they have assembled and are just missing good pitching to put them over the top.  We have seen 1st round college level pitchers move pretty fast through various teams systems so wouldn't it make sense to grab some early elite pitching and then even grab pitching late like they have been?  Buffering the quality arms in the system in case of injury or ineffectiveness with guys that could help in 2 to 3 years time while the window is still open. 

It just seems like if there is a year to break out of the simple supply and demand of the draft and go after a position of team need this is the year.  I mean Oranges might be scarce but if I already have plenty of them why not just buy more apples if that is what I really need?  I know that they want to balance their picks but they are deadline sellers and should be able to get hitting prospects easier than pitching prospects.  They could trade for hitters and take more pitching in a draft that apparently has more pitching than hitting in it.  I mean if every team followed the Twins philosophy there would be no pitchers taken in the first round of the draft.  I don't think it is a philosophy that has to be followed but I can see where Johnson is coming from.  Personally I just think it is short sighted given where this team is at.

I have absolutely no problem with adapting somewhat based on need.  What I have a problem with is the tendency for sports fans to insult the people making decisions when said sports fans does not have any supporting evidence.  I find it especially off-putting when the implication is that those people must be ignorant if they dont' understand XYZ.  If you have hard evidence they don't know what they are doing, fine.  They absolutely deserve the criticism.  However, taking a hard stance without evidence or evidence like other teams do it even Tampa Bay is not exactly wisdom.  Obviously, this WAS NOT your logic.  I am just making a point in general.  Why do I care if another team did something.  WHAT WAS THE RESULT.

Since 2001 the Rays have taken pitchers with 9 of their 20 first round picks. David Price was a 1/1 pick and he was kind of a no-brainer.  Certainly not the same situation as picking in the late part or even middle of the 1st round.   He is the only one of the nine to produce more than 5 career WAR to this point.  The point being of course, that this is the kind of meaningless evidence used to support we must take pitchers in the 1st round.  

If we want to add supplemental rounds, the Rays took 3 pitchers in the 2011 supplemental round.  One of them was Blake Snell.  The pitcher they took 12 picks ahead of him is 28 years old in AAA with an ERA over 5.  The player picked 5 slots later never made it to the MLB level.  To be fair here, Matthew Liberatore has a good chance of adding to the success stories. What this track record suggests to me is that 1st round picks that are not David Price at 1/1 have a high probability of failure.  What was the result in this example?

2001 – Pick 3 - Dewon Brazelton – Made it to the MLB level and produced a Career bWAR of -3.

2004 – Pick 4 - Jeff Niemann - Made it to the MLB level and produced a Career bWAR of 4.3.

2005 – Pick 8 - Wade Townsend – Never made it to the MLB level

2007-Price - Pick 1 as a 1/1 pick and he was kind of a no-brainer.  Certainly not the same situation as picking in the late part or even middle of the 1st round.  

2011-Pick 24 - Taylor Guerrieri is 28 years old.  He is still at AAA with an ERA over 5.

2011-Supplemental pick 42 - Jeff Ames – Never made it to the MLB level

2011-2011 Supplemental 54 – Blake Snell – Great

2011-2011 Supplemental 59- Grayson Garvin - Never made it to the MLB level

2013-Pick 29 - Ryne Stanek – Will be 30 in a couple weeks and has a career WAR of 1.4.

2017-Pick 4 - Brendan McKay – Hard to say what’s going to happen with him.

2018-pick 16 - Matthew Liberatore – Looks good in AAA.

2020-Pick 24 – Nick Bitsko – He is 19 so we shall see.

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