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  • Did the Twins Give Up Too Early On Akil Baddoo?


    Cody Christie

    Twins’ fans got an up-close and personal view of one of baseball’s hottest hitters this week. Unfortunately, Akil Baddoo was a member of the Twins organization just last season. So, did the Twins give up too early on Baddoo?

    Image courtesy of © Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

    Baddoo was a second-round pick back in the 2016 MLB Draft out of high school in Georgia. He was actually Minnesota’s fourth pick in that draft behind Alex Kirilloff, Ben Rortvedt, and Jose Miranda. All of those players are still in the Twins organization, but Baddoo was left unprotected in this year’s Rule 5 Draft.

     

    Baddoo and the Tigers are showing exactly why the Rule 5 Draft was put in place. When a player is close to big-league ready, an organization can’t stash that player in the minor leagues without putting them on the 40-man roster. Baddoo’s hot start is great, but he will need to prove that he is part of the solution in Detroit, who isn’t expected to win too many games this season.

     

    During his time in the Twins organization, Baddoo played four professional seasons and reached as high as High-A. In the minors, he combined to hit .249/.357/.422 with 86 extra-base hits in 233 games. There were some clear offensive skills including a tremendous ability to draw walks along with some good power potential. This might all sound good, but there are reasons why the Twins left him unprotected this past winter.

     

    He’s been limited to under 115 games in every professional season including only 29 games back in 2019. Also, Baddoo struck out in nearly 24% of his plate appearance in 2018 and that number rose to 29.8% in 2019. So far in his brief big-league career, he has two strikeouts and no walks yet to his credit. He can play defensively in all three outfield positions, so it will be interesting to see what his long-term position will be at the big-league level.

     

    At one point, Baddoo was a borderline top-10 prospect in the Twins organization. In the last published Twins Prospect Handbook following the 2019 season, Tom had Baddoo ranked the highest as the 16th best Twins prospect. Seth had him ranked at 17 and I had him ranked as the 23rd best future Twin. Baddoo was certainly viewed as having potential, but the Twins and the Tigers are in very different places.

     

    Detroit is in rebuild mold and they can afford to take a flyer on a player like Baddoo. They aren’t expected to win for multiple seasons, so the Tigers can take the ups and downs that come with a younger player that has no experience at Double- or Triple-A. Moving forward, Baddoo’s outlook hasn’t changed significantly.

     

    The Twins have a ton of top-tier outfield prospects that were ahead of Baddoo on the team’s organizational depth chart. Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Gilberto Celestino, Brent Rooker, and Matt Wallner are just a few of the outfield prospects that would rank ahead of Baddoo for the Twins. That takes nothing away from what Baddoo might be able to do in his career, but he wasn’t in Minnesota’s long-term plans.

     

    What are your thoughts on Baddoo and the storybook start to his big-league career? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

     

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    If it came down to it, I personally would have preferred Baddoo over Celestino. Had him ranked higher on my prospect list entering last year. And before Baddoo got hurt, I think we all had him higher (on the 2019 TD prospect list Baddoo was No. 10 and Celestino was 16).

     

    I also would have taken Baddoo over LaMonte Wade, who was still on the 40-man roster at the time of the Rule 5 Draft. Oh, and there were four empty spots. Oh, and two of the spots were occupied by Ian Gibaut and Brandon Waddell, who were both later outrighted (with Waddell being re-added this week).

     

    I do think it more came down to the Twins thinking nobody would take Baddoo/even it he was selected he wouldn't last past Spring Training than the Twins giving up on him. I know I was a bit surprised he was taken after missing all that time.

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    When it means he can be drafted by another team in Rule 5 draft.

    I disagree, as that means they've given up on the majority of players in their system.

     

    They weighed the pros/cons vs the odds of a rare transaction and maybe lost. They didn't give up on a player. That would be waiving him. They gave up on David Ortiz.

     

    And, from the looks of TD, Baddoo is the new Ortiz :) 

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    Personally I love this. And I wish Baddoo great success and a great career. It's too early to guarantee anything but it certainly is a fun story. What I like about Baddoo and celestino is there all around abilities. I prefer them over some of the slugger first pics that we've made and the rank ahead of them.

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    If it came down to it, I personally would have preferred Baddoo over Celestino. Had him ranked higher on my prospect list entering last year. And before Baddoo got hurt, I think we all had him higher (on the 2019 TD prospect list Baddoo was No. 10 and Celestino was 16).

     

    I also would have taken Baddoo over LaMonte Wade, who was still on the 40-man roster at the time of the Rule 5 Draft. Oh, and there were four empty spots. Oh, and two of the spots were occupied by Ian Gibaut and Brandon Waddell, who were both later outrighted (with Waddell being re-added this week).

     

    I do think it more came down to the Twins thinking nobody would take Baddoo/even it he was selected he wouldn't last past Spring Training than the Twins giving up on him. I know I was a bit surprised he was taken after missing all that time.

    I am a big fan of Celestino but thank you for the sensible take

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    It was a series of bizarre decision making. You let Rosario go because you don’t want him blocking the young guys. Instead of adding all the young guys to the 40 man roster and let the cream rise to the top, you expose him only to sign a retread outfielder who’s failed at other organizations to block the kids. In the process you lose a guy with real potential. If you are making the decision between Rosario and Young guys... okay I get that. But management chose the worst of both worlds and now LF is a disaster. Hopefully they learn quick from their mistakes and let the young guys learn

    How do you feel about the trade for Delmon Young?

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    I know I shouldn't hide my feelings. It's bad for the lombargo. So here's my real take on Baddoo. First, congrats to the kid. Detroit snatched him out from under our noses, and at the moment it looks like the steal of the year. 

     

    Second, I like to say, Ghaaa. Sounds good, but I'm not actually that upset. The Twins have several good OF prospects in their system. Baddoo was considered promising, but a bit injury prone, and not quite ready to take on pro pitching. Kiriloff, Larnach and Rooker are considered better bats, and Celestino is considered a better CF if Buxton goes down again. 

     

    Frankly, if Baddoo pans out better than Broxton, Detroit's scouts deserve praise. He's still a long shot to be a star in the league, but his first couple weeks sure have looked good. I hope he does well, but I'm not upset with the guys the Twins decided to keep on the 40. A certain amount of talent will escape an organization now and then. Good for the players.

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    It was a series of bizarre decision making. You let Rosario go because you don’t want him blocking the young guys. Instead of adding all the young guys to the 40 man roster and let the cream rise to the top, you expose him only to sign a retread outfielder who’s failed at other organizations to block the kids. In the process you lose a guy with real potential. If you are making the decision between Rosario and Young guys... okay I get that. But management chose the worst of both worlds and now LF is a disaster. Hopefully they learn quick from their mistakes and let the young guys learn
    Far be it from me to second guess the best FO in history....and I so much hate saying i told you so...but...I would like to really know exactly what WAS the plan in left field. We know it wasn't Badoo. Was it Cave? Rooker? Kiriloff? the C.Y.A FO has somehow failed to address that at all. Maybe it was Garlick all along. Eddie would sure look good out there about now wouldn't he?
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    The decision to leave him off the 40 man was perfectly reasonable. He hadn’t played a game in two years, and his minor league track record was a little iffy. So no, I very much disagree this is a case of incompetent management. The front office made an educated guess (which is all roster management is), and so far it has not worked out.

     

    That said, it’s very early. It’s completely possible Baddoo could be back in the Twins system in a month or two. As a baseball fan, I want him to succeed. He’s an easy guy to root for, and I’m always drawn to the underdog. Every FO misses on some guys. I hope Baddoo winds up being one Falvey wishes he had back.

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    I truly think the twins thought no way someone takes him.

     

    Everyone one saying oh you had open spots in your 40 man. Which is true the problem is if you add a guy in the 40 man roster who isn’t close to the majors you end up burning option years before a guy is major league ready.

     

    Take Celestino for example he used an option year in 2020 now an option in 2021 if he isn’t in opening day roster in 2022 he uses up 3rd option. If he isn’t an established starter in 2024 you can’t send him down if he slumps or is the 4th or 5th outfielder and injuries occur.

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    If it came down to it, I personally would have preferred Baddoo over Celestino. Had him ranked higher on my prospect list entering last year. And before Baddoo got hurt, I think we all had him higher (on the 2019 TD prospect list Baddoo was No. 10 and Celestino was 16).

     

    I also would have taken Baddoo over LaMonte Wade, who was still on the 40-man roster at the time of the Rule 5 Draft. Oh, and there were four empty spots. Oh, and two of the spots were occupied by Ian Gibaut and Brandon Waddell, who were both later outrighted (with Waddell being re-added this week).

     

    I do think it more came down to the Twins thinking nobody would take Baddoo/even it he was selected he wouldn't last past Spring Training than the Twins giving up on him. I know I was a bit surprised he was taken after missing all that time.

    Celestino was protected last year, correct? I wonder if the timing had anything to do with it. I think it was a gamble by the Twins to not protect Baddoo and it does look like they will lose this specific gamble. Detroit isn't going to contend and it looks like there will be sufficient opportunities for the youngster to play and perhaps smooth the rough edges of his game. 

     

    It seems to me that position players who aren't likely to perform with the major league club are very seldom protected, while the Twins (and most other MLB lteams) protect pitchers who might be a year or even two away from contributing. Detroit is one of maybe five teams that can get away with carrying a Rule 5 guy because their probability of contending is so low. Bonus--the kid has come out hot with noteworthy hits, mostly against his former organization!

     

    Last thought. It looks like Akil Baddoo is a guy who might have all the tools. He seems to have good speed and a decent arm to go with developing hit tools. With the exception of top of the top choices Lewis and Buxton, the Twins seem to have gravitated toward hit-first players and it kind of shows on the major league team. there is a real lack of team speed outside of Buxton.

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    If Detroit were to get competitive this season I would guess Baddoo would be offered back to the Twins at some point.  Unfortunately, once he falls below a .250 batting average (which will happen,) Detroit will be out of the hunt so Detroit will switch to: "well, we might as well keep him on our roster."  That being said, there are several guys currently on our 40-man roster who could have been easily swapped out for Baddoo.  This was a whiff by our front office for now....but they have hit more triples than whiffs so far......so I am giving them the benefit of the doubt.

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    There's already a thread on this in another forum. I think with only 11 AB, we're still in the "way too soon to tell" stage. I hope the kid does well, but the Twins are in win now and Baddoo was pretty far down on the pecking order. He hasn't spent time in the high minors and had mixed results in the low minors. It was a calculation on the part of the FO in thinking he woudln't be taken. They were wrong. But it is what it is. He was also blocked by several OFs with much higher ceilings and success in the high minors. 

     

    All we can really do is wish him well. 

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    Celestino was protected last year, correct?

    Correct, and at that time he essentially had made the same amount of progress through the minor league system as Baddoo had entering this year. 

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    Accidentally deleted this when I meant to click “edit”. Looks like edit button disappeared

     

    It was a series of bizarre decision making. You let Rosario go because you don’t want him blocking the young guys. Instead of adding all the young guys to the 40 man roster and let the cream rise to the top, you expose Baddoo only to sign a retread outfielder who’s failed at other organizations to block the kids. In the process you lose a guy with real potential. If you are making the decision between Rosario and Young guys... okay I get that. But management chose the worst of both worlds and now LF is a disaster. Hopefully they learn quick from their mistakes and let the young guys learn

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    I suspect Kirilloff will be coming up soon after the date that gives the Twins an extra year on him, so let’s not assume LF will stay a “disaster” for the rest of the year. Plus, Larnach could ready to come up in the summer.

     

    To add on to what Tom said, I think Baddoo gets protected if we didn’t already have Celestino. Already have a bunch of OFs on the 40 man. If we applied this logic to other similar prospects, Wander Javier and Lewin Diaz would be taking up 40 man spots right now.

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    Maybe I am Polly Anna but I don't see Baddoo falling off a cliff Offensively,  He has upped his game the last two years he was out.  The Hit he got off Robles nasty slider tells you all you need to know IMO.  Yeah the two HR's came off cream puff fastballs but that is what good players are supposed to do.  I don't think he will stay this hot but I don't see him falling all the way to 4th outfielder status either.

     

    He has the speed to play center and while he is noted to not have a great arm he was able to nab Simmons at second the other day.  He has the speed to steal bases and has always had a good eye at the plate and that will carry him through tough hitting spells.  I don't think he is going to be wished away anytime soon although any thing is possible I guess.  The season is long though and injuries happen.  Players get mentally tired and physically tired he won't stay this hot.

     

    The OP's title doesn't make sense to me though.  The FO never gave up on Baddoo they just didn't think a team would take him and even if a team did they didn't think he would be ready to make the jump. Mainly because I don't think we have seen many if any players in the last 10 to 20 years make the jump from A ball to the majors.  The risk of losing him appeared slim and the right play 90% of the time IMO.

     

    As others have noted the 40 man needs to be primarily planned for winning regular season games and yet there needs to be some room to protect good players that might be lost to Rule V.  The better your team is the more you would like those 40 man spots to help with regular season depth.  Also options can be a factor when you add a player too soon.  The Twins didn't want to clog their 40 man with a young player that hadn't played organized baseball in two years and wasn't likely to contribute to the team this year.  While that assumption appears wrong in hindsight given the odds it made sense.

     

    Despite all the things I said above we need to remember the Twins two highest rated players are outfielder's that are just about ready to make the jump in Kirilloff and Larnach.  They added Celestino early so that he wouldn't get taken in Rule V and they have Wallner on the way and possibly Soularie as well as a host of ubber young international prospects with solid potential in Urbina, Diaz, Rodrigguez etc a little further down the pipeline but not too far off.  So if they were going to lose an outfielder it was not like the cupboard was going to be bare.

     

    As others have said it is way to early to draw any solid conclusions about Baddoo and how his year will go.  he is off to a great start but their will be bumps in the road.  IMO he has the tools he needs to get over those and be successful but we will have to wait and see.  

     

    While I hate to say this I think he is lucky he got taken by the Tigers in rule V and I think rule V worked as intended in this situation.  If he stayed with the Twins he would have had to battle Kirilloff, Larnach, and Celestino for Spots for sure and possibly Rooker, Wallner and Soularie as well with the other young guys chasing him.  In Detroit he doesn't have near that level of competition and can likely stick on an MLB team.  In the end maybe he will be better than all of those players it is hard to say at this point but I still don't think you can fault the FO for trying to do what was best in the present versus an uncertain future.  Hindsight is 20/20 but the FO doesn't get that luxury sometimes even when the odds are in your favor you still lose.

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    A week into the season, yup, was a mistake. But isn't hindsight always 20/20?

     

    Looking back when the decision was made, didn't have a problem and like many was surprised when he was selected. Wonder if all the former Twins guys in the Detroit organization may have had some insight into what he could become.

     

    Now, lets get concerned by the Twins getting a W today, fixing that bloody extra inning runner on second rule and getting Twins baseball back on the tv services many of us have.

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    A lot of dimensions to the decision whether or not to protect.

     

    Each off-season there will be two or three bottom feeder teams with no hope to compete and therefore the roster space to take a gamble on an outfielder. However there are 28 other teams besides just the Twins that such a team can choose from. If you leave a top-100 type of talent exposed, it's easy to predict you'll lose him, but below that it is much less likely.

     

    Where you project a prospect playing is a huge factor. Up-the-middle talent always will catch someone's eye, increasing the urgency to protect. Baddoo has major-league CF range, I believe, but it's the arm that scouts have questions about (even before surgery). If you envision him as a left fielder, you'll prioritize him one way; if you view him in center, then the other way. A bad team may be more likely to gamble with a marginal center fielder, than the team losing him.

     

    This ties in with my unease with all the corner outfield talent the team has been drafting in the early rounds recently. Had the Twins not drafted Rooker, who is knocking on the door, maybe they would have made room for Baddoo? Emphasizing bat-first guys means less latitude for "tweeners" if Baddoo is viewed that way.

     

    Finally, could we have gotten something for Baddoo? Not much. Even though the Tigers liked him well enough to Rule-5 him, they would have gone to some other Plan B strategy had Baddoo been unavailable. For the Twins in November to approach the Tigers, saying that they heard they liked Baddoo so what would they offer in trade, would likely have resulted in some lottery-ticket arm in rookie ball, at best. So then, say, next year, when Baddoo comes up in a more normal progression, and shines like he's doing now, the second guessing would be exactly the same.

     

    The Twins have a strong farm system at present, and losing someone like this is probably unavoidable now and then. Though, you do want to keep the losses to a minimum, with the guys you lose not clearly superior to whom you keep, and not have talent evaluation become an actual detriment.

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