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Minnesota Twins 2014 Draft Retrospective: Swings and Misses


Twins Daily Contributor

Eight years ago, the Twins had a top-5 pick for the third consecutive season. However, many of the team's picks from that draft have been swings and misses.

Major League Baseball's 2022 Draft is scheduled to start on July 17, 2022. Each team prepares for the draft with a specific plan, and sometimes those plans play out better than others. To prepare fans for the upcoming draft, here is a look at some of the most important drafts in recent Twins history. 

In 2014, the Twins were in the midst of some dark times as the club lost over 90 games for the fourth consecutive season. The team's 66-96 record from 2013 put them in position for the fifth overall pick. At the top of the draft, the Astros took Brady Aiken, who didn't sign, and the Marlins took Tyler Kolek, who hasn't pitched in a minor league game since 2019. Carlos Rodon and Kyle Schwarber were taken with the next two picks, and both have compiled decent big-league numbers when healthy. The Twins were on the clock with multiple options. 

Minnesota was left to consider multiple intriguing names, including college stars and toolsy prep players. The Twins selected high schooler Nick Gordon who had plenty of tools and came from a family tied to baseball. Gordon was considered one of Minnesota's top prospects throughout the majority of his professional career, but his path to the big leagues had bumps in the road. He's worked into a utility role for the Twins while accumulating a 0.5 WAR and an 84 OPS+ in 121 games.   

Many teams, like the Twins, passed over some of the best talents in the 2014 first round. Three players have accumulated more than 24 WAR, including Trea Turner (13th pick), Aaron Nola (7th pick), and Matt Chapman (25th pick). Turner is the biggest miss for the Twins in the first round as he has developed into one of baseball's best players. If the Twins wanted a pitcher, Nola was taken two picks after Gordon and has accumulated a 3.66 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP for his career. Many teams can play the "what if" game with these two names.

Minnesota made five other picks in that draft that have made their big-league debuts, but they have combined for a -2.5 career WAR. Nick Burdi was taken in the second round and has 16 appearances because of various injuries. Burdi didn't make it past Double-A in the Twins system, and Pittsburgh used a Rule 5 pick to select him in 2017. The Twins took Sam Clay in the fourth round, and he made his debut with the Nationals in 2021. Over the last two seasons, he has been worth -0.9 WAR as he has a 67 ERA+ in 63 appearances. 

Later in the draft, the Twins selected players like Jake Reed (-0.4 WAR), John Curtiss (0.7 WAR), and Trevor Hildenberger (-1.3 WAR). Curtiss had the most success as a reliever with Tampa Bay as he helped that club on their run to the 2020 World Series. Reed and Hildenberger have been inconsistent and bounced around to multiple organizations. As mid- to late-round picks, these players reaching the major leagues is an accomplishment in itself.

Two years after the 2014 MLB Draft, the Twins had one of their best drafts in recent memory. For every strong draft class, there is a class that doesn't live up to expectations. Strong organizations can consistently identify big-league talent and develop players through a team's farm system. 

What do you remember about this draft? What is Gordon's role moving forward with the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES
-2012 MLB Draft Retrospective
-2016 MLB Draft Retrospective

 


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Impossible to spin that year's draft as a success.  A success would be coming away with better than a backup infielder with the #5 pick, and/or with some other draftee over-achieving to compensate.

Seattle picked next and didn't wind up with a better player, although they turned him into something by trading him early.  So that suggests a little bad luck was involved for our Twins.  But then multiple picks soon afterward demonstrated there was high-end talent to be had, if the evaluators had taken a different view. 

Gordon's main selling point was that he had no obvious flaw that would hold him back, even if he lacked any obvious strengths that would propel him to stardom.  Bad luck or bad design by the talent evaluators?  I lean toward the latter.  Bad luck or bad development by the minor league coaches?  I lean toward the former.

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This is a good retrospective. I recall the Twins being tied to Turner for a while. Boy would that have been nice. I wasn’t excited about him as a prospect. Was I wrong. At the time I wanted them to take Nola. Those first few rounds were a bit perplexing. I believe that was during their run of drafting relievers with the idea of converting them into starters. 

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Hildenberger was really good, but only very briefly. Once major league batters figured him out he didn't have the ability to adjust to their adjustments. A flash in the pan, albeit a fairly bright flash.

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When it comes to Nick Gordon, it's not possible to understate how very unexpected health issues have impacted him. He's listed at 160lbs, but I suspect he's a bit heavier than that now. At one point, Gordon was nearing 180 before losing 30lbs due to digestive tract issues and then COVID.

It's obvious he can still gain a few pounds of muscle and the strength which comes with it. Gordon will likely never be an above average bat, but any player who can carve out a multi-year MLB career has been very successful.

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In the 10 rounds after the Twins picked Gordon you have AAron Nola, Trea Turner, Brian Anderson, Rhys Hoskins and Dylan Cease as the only players that amounted to much. Almost every team had a non productive draft. Before Gordon, Schwarber and Rodin have not had stellar careers

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Gordon was taken with a high floor low ceiling outlook but with the ability to likely remain at SS.  Greg Gagne was a comp.  I think Gordon was viewed as a future SS with a .270 ave 10 HRs and 10-15 SB.  
It seems likely Gordon will have a 5-10 year run and accumulate 2000-3000 plate appearances.  That is my guess anyways.

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14 hours ago, Brandon said:

Gordon was taken with a high floor low ceiling outlook but with the ability to likely remain at SS.  Greg Gagne was a comp.  I think Gordon was viewed as a future SS with a .270 ave 10 HRs and 10-15 SB.  
It seems likely Gordon will have a 5-10 year run and accumulate 2000-3000 plate appearances.  That is my guess anyways.

I hope these 2000-3000 plate appearances are in Japan!!!!! :)

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Just goes to show that the draft is a crapshoot.  You never know how the players will perform.  You somehow need special scouts to correctly project future performance.  Too bad so much money is always tied each year into signing bonuses for players potential and how much of that money is just wasted when they don't plan out 

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On 6/18/2022 at 1:57 PM, prouster said:

This is a good retrospective. I recall the Twins being tied to Turner for a while. Boy would that have been nice. I wasn’t excited about him as a prospect. Was I wrong. At the time I wanted them to take Nola. Those first few rounds were a bit perplexing. I believe that was during their run of drafting relievers with the idea of converting them into starters. 

And yet at the end of the day, Turner would probably still be a Dodger today..

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