Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over the top of the front office prior to the 2017 season. While a substantial part of the scouting and draft focused contingent remained in the organization, the overall infrastructure has changed. Falvey and Levine have instituted a significant expansion of analytical models, as well as people to cultivate those initiatives. Developmental staff has been brought in across the farm, and voices through the system seem more aligned than ever.
Although the post-draft process of skill development and progression remains the most vital piece in generating a big leaguer, it’s also very much about nailing the makeup and tools of each guy selected. With just five rounds to get it right this year, it’s worth looking at how the last three tries in that same space have gone.
2017 Picks: Royce Lewis (1, 1), Brent Rooker (1, 35), Landon Leach (2, 37), Blayne Enlow (3, 76), Charlie Barnes (4, 106), Andrew Bechtold (5, 136)
In their very first draft Falvine went big on upside. Royce Lewis was selected over players like Hunter Greene and Kyle Wright. He’s got the makeup of a star player and still trends towards being a difference maker up the middle for the Twins. Rooker was a bat only prospect, but it’s played as expected at every level thus far. The power is real and he’s near Major League ready.
In going after Leach, Minnesota was able to bank some money to entice Enlow. Landon hasn’t established himself much in pro ball yet, but Enlow looks to be one of the better arms in the entire system. Barnes has been a consistent lefty without much flash. He reached Triple-A last year and could project as a back-end starter. While Bechtold was seen as a very nice JUCO get he’s still waiting to establish himself. The Appy League debut was a good one but a .738 OPS at Single-A, where he was old for both leagues, didn’t light the world on fire.
Overall, this group looks to have two guaranteed Major League talents, and one that could absolutely be a star. Throw in Enlow’s upside and another potential lottery pick on one of the remaining to call it a very solid first showing for the front office.
2018 Picks: Trevor Larnach (1, 20), Ryan Jeffers (2, 59), DaShawn Keirsey (4, 124), Cole Sands (5, 154)
Just four picks in the top five rounds this year, Minnesota had to do more with less. Larnach was a College World Series star and brings exit velocity in spades. He’s since become a very similar comp to another Twins prospect, Alex Kirilloff. That’s great company and there’s a significant ceiling to be fulfilled. Jeffers is the best catching prospect in the organization, and while touted for his offense, he’s transformed into more of a complete player.
Until now Keirsey hasn’t yet taken hold. He posted a .798 OPS in his pro debut but owned just a .436 OPS last year playing 43 games. Cole Sands looked like a gem when he did debut last year. He made it all the way to Double-A and dominated to the tune of a 2.68 ERA with a 10.0 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9.
Once again, this looks like a strong core group. Larnach and Jeffers are great headliners with Sands trending way upwards. Keirsey could be a miss, but three of four looking like Major League assets this early is a solid set of circumstances. A smaller group, but a good one here.
2019 Picks: Keoni Cavaco (1, 13), Matt Wallner (1, 39), Matt Canterino (2, 54), Spencer Steer (3, 90), Seth Gray (4, 119), Will Holland (5, 149)
The Twins went with the helium to start last year’s draft. Cavaco vaulted up boards but was not necessarily expected to go this high. He really struggled from the get-go but showed up to Spring Training looking very strong. Wallner is a local product and was a standout at Southern Miss. Both he and Matt Canterino looked like tested amateurs that can contribute at a very high level.
Adding infield talent was the theme of a run in rounds three through five. Steer made quick work of the Appy League and held his own for the Kernels. Gray showed well for Elizabethton and made a brief cameo with Cedar Rapids. Holland was the pride of a very good Auburn squad and is seen as a very good defender. The bat didn’t play in year one but it’s far too early to make assessments there.
Lots of uncertainty in regards to trend lines for this group at an early stage, but I think it’s fair to say both Wallner and Canterino impressed.
Looking back at the last three drafts Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have shown there’s people in all of the right places across the Twins organization. It’s hard not to be excited about the top of any of these groups, and even moreso considering the futility the previous regime showed in regards to recent top picks. Minnesota only has four picks (27, 59, 99, and 125) to make in June and they’ll need to supplement the system as best they can. With an unlimited number of undrafted signees also on the docket, enticing amateurs with the revamped development infrastructure should be a selling point as well.
Before we’ll get any live action in 2020 the draft is going to take place, and thankfully for Twins fans, there’s a group in place capable of hitting a home run.
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