While this year’s draft of 20 rounds was still only half of the usual 40, it pretty much felt like a return to normalcy after last year’s draft only had five rounds.
The Twins had a clear approach of wanting to draft players that they knew they could sign, as they targeted high schoolers with both of their picks on night one, and then drafted exclusively college players on days two and three.
When asked about this in an interview after the draft, Twins scouting director Sean Johnson had this to say, “Once you get past the second round a lot of those high school players that you would like to bring on board become a little less signable… so you get out of that high school group pretty quick starting in the second or third round.”
With the 26th overall pick in the first round, the Twins took a fireball high school pitcher from New Jersey named Chase Petty. In showcases last summer and leading up to the draft, Petty’s fastball has routinely been clocked in the triple digits and has reached as high as 102 mph. Petty also has a breaking ball and a changeup that show potential to be above average pitches as he develops them. As a result of his makeup, along with how high school fireball pitchers have fared in the past, Petty was seen as a risky pick. However, with the Twins picking late in the first round, it made perfect sense to bet on the high upside of Petty, as his ceiling is as high as most of the players taken with the first ten picks of the draft.
Just ten picks after they selected Chase Petty, the Twins were on the clock again, this time closing out night one of the draft in Competitive Balance Round A. Again, they went the high school route as they selected Noah Miller, a shortstop from Wisconsin. Miller is a well thought of defensive shortstop who could stick there at the professional level. Offensively, Miller is a switch-hitter with more of a contact approach. While the power is still a bit of a question mark, Miller has time to develop that as he gets into the Twins player development program.
The focus early on day two was college pitching, as four of their first five picks were college pitchers. While each of those four pitchers are seen as more pitch-ability guys, with potential to be back of the rotation starting pitcher or long relief options, second round pick Steven Hajjar does have some middle of the rotation upside if he can tack on a few more MPHs on his fastball.
With the rest of their picks on day two, the Twins focused on filling out their infield and catcher positions. In the fourth round they selected Christian Encarnacion-Strand, who is a third baseman from Oklahoma State with some power potential with the bat. They also drafted back-to-back catchers in the 8th in 9th rounds to continue to build depth at that position within the organization.
On day three it became all about filling out the rest of their class with as many quality players as they could. Again the focus early was on pitching, as three of the first four picks on day three were pitchers. Sandwiched between those pitchers was the first and only outfielder the Twins took in the entire draft, as they selected Big East Player of the Year Kyler Fedko out of UConn.
Another theme of this draft was taking multiple players who played for the same university. In the 8th and 15th rounds, the Twins selected catcher Noah Cardenas and middle infielder Mikey Perez from UCLA. In the 9th and 12th rounds, the Twins took a pair of UConn Huskies in catcher Pat Winkel and outfielder Kyler Fedko. Texas Tech was also well represented in this year’s Twins draft class, as a pair of Red Raiders in right-handed pitcher Brandon Birdwell and second baseman Dylan Neuse were taken in the 11th and 17th rounds, respectively.
One thing everyone wants to know is, how good will this draft class be, and I can promise that the guys within the Twins organization who made these selections are wondering the same thing. The truth is, nobody knows and we likely won’t be able to accurately judge this class for another five to ten years. One this is true however, the Twins just added a number of new and exciting players to their ranks, and all Twins fans should be excited to see what these guys can do.