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  • 3 Takeaways From the Twins 2022 Draft Class


    Jamie Cameron

    The 2022 MLB Draft is in the books. Aside from an outstanding first day, how did the Twins do? What conclusions can we draw from their picks? Here are some insights and some thoughts from Sean Johnson, the Twins Vice President, Amateur Scouting.

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    An Update on the Consensus Big Board
    The Consensus Big Board worked well in its first year. All of the consensus top 56 we profiled at Twins Daily were drafted. Only 3 players in the 76 I ranked (Tristan Smith, Cam Smith, and Max Martin) were not drafted. They are all high school players going to college.

    The Minnesota Twins gained 29 draft spots of consensus ranking value with their first two picks. Brooks Lee (ranked 4th, selected 8th), and Connor Prielipp (ranked 23rd, selected 48th), both reflected high value plays by the Twins front office. Barring health issues (which is a big hurdle to clear), the first two picks played out perfectly.

    Additionally, the consensus board was pretty accurate in the first few rounds. After day one (through 80 picks), 63 of our top 70 players had been drafted. That’s certainly something to build on for next year. In 2023, some of my thoughts on additions will be:

    • Adding more sources (Fangraphs, Perfect Game, etc.)
    • Expanding to 100 picks
    • Limiting the writeups

    I have a suspicion that the usefulness of the board will be capped at around 75 players, but we’ll use next year to test that theory. Thanks to everyone who commented, gave feedback and interacted with all our pre-draft content at Twins Daily.

    Now, onto the Twins draft. After Lee and Prielipp, the Twins went heavy on signable college players. That’s not necessarily a trend. Twins VP of Amateur Scouting Sean Johnson says that the Twins "drafted players they liked organically", as opposed to trying to explicitly make savings in later rounds to pay up for initial picks. There were, however, some noticeable trends this year among picks. Here are three.

    The Twins Targeted Athletes
    ‘Geez, how many shortstops do the Twins need?'

    An incredibly tiring refrain tweeted out by many an egg-profile picture sporting twitter account on draft day. The answer is…an infinite number. The Twins picked six shortstops in twenty rounds of the 2022 draft. Brooks Lee (1st), Tanner Schobel (CB-B), Ben Ross (5th), Dalton Shuffield (10th), Omari Daniel (14th), and Jankel Ortiz (16th). Simply, shortstops are typically the best athletes on a given team, the Twins (like many other teams) target athletic players. If a player can play at short, they can play anywhere on the infield (and likely other positions), so please, let’s toss the ridiculous notion that the 'Twins drafted too many shortstops’ out the window forever.

    Twins are Buying Power Breakouts
    This may seem obvious, but I think there are some noteworthy case studies here. Competitive Balance pick Tanner Schobel (who Jeremy Nygaard reported has already reached an agreement with the Twins) had a power breakout in 2022. He went from seven home runs and 10 doubles in 2021 to 19 home runs in 2022 with increased elevation and pull-side power.

    Jorel Ortega, the Twins 6th round pick (and another middle infielder), had a similar breakthrough in 2022. He hit 18 home runs and slugged .672 for the Vols, compared to just one home run and .296 slugging in 2021 in his return from Tommy John surgery. "Just a really strong performer on one of the best college teams in America", says Sean Johnson. Although Ortega is an extreme example, the Twins draft class is littered with them, whether in college, the Cape, or the Northwoods League.

    Ben Ross is another example. "It's a higher bar to clear (coming from a Division II school), especially on our model, but he held up well on our board", says Johnson of Ross. The Twins are known to value exit velocity in their model. They are also jumping on players who have breakthrough years as a development that may translate to the professional level.

    Twins Value K/BB Ratio for Pitchers, Confident in Their Ability to add Velocity
    As John Vittas (play-by-play for Fort Myers) alluded to, the Twins use K:BB as a driving metric for their pitchers.

    If we look at the pitchers drafted outside of the three mentioned by Vittas, the trend continues:
    Andrew Morris (91 K, 28 BB)
    Ben Ethridge (39 K, 7 BB)
    Zachary Veen (59 K, 3 BB)
    Garrett McMillan (83 K, 26 BB)

    Johnson had plenty of interesting insights to share regarding the pitchers the Twins selected. "In these rounds (day 2 and 3), you're looking for one special pitch, something unique", before adding that the Twins feel extremely confident in their player development department in adding velocity to incoming pitchers. Interestingly, Johnson also mentioned careful consideration of the school a pitcher attended, highlighting the additional development possibilities for players who had less access to elite coaching and playing technology in their college programs.

    On specific pitchers, Johnson had additional insights.

    • "Andrew Morris is a good strike thrower, four solid pitches across the board, we see him as a starter for us".  
    • On Zebby Matthews, Johnson noted, "We had him here for a pre-draft workout. He has a chance to throw really hard."

    When prompted to reflect on the success of last year's draft, particularly with pitchers (Hajjar, Povich, Festa etc.), Johnson noted that no one could have predicted Festa's breakout season, even the scouts who advocated for drafting him. "If you have draft ten guys like him, one might have a breakthrough like that," shares Johnson.

    What’s not yet clear to me is the extent to which the Twins target raw velocity in their pitchers. In a recent graphic (that I now cannot find), the MLB team was producing some of the most consistently high exit velocities and some of the most consistently low velocities from pitching. It’s likely the front office is working to course correct this in the minors and it just hasn’t shown up yet at the MLB level (besides Duran).

    What are your takeaways from the draft? What players are you excited to watch? Any Twins draft regrets?

     

     

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    First, the consensus board was a home run.  I had that and the TD live draft coverage open throughout the draft. Great work. I hope you do it next year. I agree with your three points. I think looking for power breakouts in the later rounds makes great sense. If these players had put together 2 or 3 years of those kind of results, they would have been drafted much earlier. Late developers and small college guys always go later, but you never know when you will find a Festa. 

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    While the OP mentioned Fans saying how many Shortstops do the Twins need? I think that is somewhat misleading.  Most of those shortstops are predicted to move off the position and really become utility players.  If all those picks were "true" shortstops then lay it on me I love it.  We need them.

    The Twins took 5 infielders in the top ten picks and seven over all.  6 of those were shortstops so what gives?  The Twins in general seem to like fairly balanced drafts and for the last 4 years rarely picked any shortstops.  Usually 1 or 2 per draft and none in 2020. Shortstop has pretty much always been a position that the Twins system has been in short supply and it is not for a lack of trying spending 1-1 pick on Lewis, signing Javier to one of the biggest FA contracts ever and reaching for Cavaco in the first round just to shore up the position.  The only one close so far is Lewis taken all the way back in 2017.  

    While the Twins haven't been lucky generating shortstop talent they appear to be rich in utility talents Arraez, Gordon, Miranda, Palacios, Steer, Martin, Jullien, Prato, Cavaco and Miller and Possibly including Lewis unless you see him as sure fire shortstop.  While Utility players can play 2nd, 3rd and short in a pinch that list above doesn't even include guys in the system tied to one spot like CES, Gray and Severino.  If you are counting that is 11 straight up utility players at the MLB level and with potential to make it to the MLB level.  Some like Prato and Cavaco appear to be long shots at this time and if you wanted to take them out that still leaves 9 guys to play primarily two spots 2nd and 3rd and maybe short in a pinch.  That is more than enough utility talent for quite some time.

    So why did the Twins take all those shortstops this year?  It was totally out of character for them.  They have never drafted this many shortstops since Falvine took over.  I couldn't make much sense of it.

    I looked hard through the system though and “true” shortstop is a bit more barren than I realized.  At A ball we have Miller who has held his own so far this year but since he is high schooler it is going to take some time yet.  At high A the Twins have Holland and Javier. Holland is 24 and will be 25 next year and is still in High A with a .691 OPS and 32% K rate. It seems pretty obvious he doesn't have the contact skills to make it.  He looks like he could be on his way out.  Javier is still only 23 but is only in high A with only a .690 OPS.  He has been better as of late but he doesn't look like an answer either. That is it there is no one else there at High A.


    You can see why the Twins tried so hard to make Martin work at short because without him there is nothing at short at AA.  The Twins were so desperate for someone to play they plugged in defensive whiz Ozoria and his .580 OPS just to fill the hole.   So that is two levels with essentially no one exceling at short and low A needing depth beyond Miller.  Essentially they could use another 5 guys at short.  The question is are the guys they picked actually shortstops or utility players.

    A lot of scouts are already saying it is just a matter of time before Lee moves off of short.  There are mixed opinions on Schobel but several outlets again feel his ultimate home is utility player.  No one knows much about Ross and he has good speed so he could be an answer but he also is from a D2 school so will have to wait and see.  Schuffield looks like a sure thing to stick at short but he is a 5 year senior and already 23 the bat doesn't look quite as good and he looks more likely to be a backup option than a star shortstop.  The two high school shortstops they drafted would likely be  five to six years away if they can sign them but both project well to stick at short but will they sign them?  Have to wait and see.

    So my question for the OP is did the Twins really draft a bunch of shortstops or are these really more utility players in disguise?  I mean Sano, Steer, Cavaco, and tons of others were drafted as "shortstops" but were all projected to move off and to no ones surprise they have all moved off the position.  Granted many felt Lewis might not stick there either and I still think he can play there.  Still after drafting 6 more shortstops I still don't know that the Twins have solved their shortstop issue.
     

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    10 minutes ago, gunnarthor said:

    I didn't look into draft stuff so much this year as in other years but I think the first two picks make this my favorite draft since 2016. We'll see how it plays out but I'm happy with this draft.

    Yeah I really liked that draft and the way they went with the young guys.  It took 6 years but those 4 straight high school picks have all made their way to Major League Baseball and with Jax the first 5 picks of that draft have all made it.  Even the 15 round pick Wells has made it.  That was one heck of a draft.  It will be hard for this one to beat that but I think the first three guys picked have a good chance to make it.  After that though who knows.  2016's success looks like it could be hard to beat.

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    With the obvious caveat of A] not being any sort of talent scout/evaluator, and B] who the heck knows how ANY draftee will turn out in the long run, I really like what the Twins did.

    As to the SS issue, I was very OK with the numbers selected. Wander hasn't turned out. Cavaco is a huge question mark and has moved off SS. Holland is playing 2B and CF and is also off SS, unless I'm mistaken. Many a 3B and 2B, including some great ones, were once SS. And some have turned out to be fine OF as well. You need a bunch to find a couple, can move others, some become fine utility players, and some just become organizational players. But you need them too.

    But going deeper in to the players themselves, after Lee and Prielipp fell in to their laps, the Twins had to readjust their approach, at least to some degree, to make sure they could play with their signing pool $. I have little doubt some of the players they picked, while liked I'm sure, were drafted earlier than projected in order to save $ to ensure Lee and Prielipp are both signed. Doesn't mean they didn't draft guys they actually like, or project, just means they had to consider the financial impact. And what better way to do that than draft guys from smaller schools, or late bloomers getting their breakthrough opportunity, etc.

    I'm going to let the SS issue die at this point, enough already said. But did I read correctly that 6th pick Ortega, 2B, was actually a SS originally? Regardless, a huge explosion in his game after getting his first real opportunity for one of 2022's top programs. Exactly what the scouting department was looking for and targeting. 

    Despite being second day arms, I'm really intrigued by Matthews and Lewis a lot. (And not just Lewis' knuckleball). They have a foundation to work with and the length to see a velocity jump the same way we've seen with Winder, Varland and others. And I'm very intrigued by LHP, 18th pick,Veen. He's not that big/long, and his velocity is reported as around 90mph. But the K's and control are outstanding. Can they add a couple MPH and have a surprise BP arm there?

    I was very pleased to see the pair of catchers selected. Lossetti's bat seems to play, though he's from a smaller school. I think it's easier to develop a catcher defensively than teach him how to hit, or have power. Baez had a good year, but doesn't seem to have as good a hit tool or as much power, but he did play at a higher level. If I understand his bio on the draft page, he was more a utility player who finally got his chance to be the every day backstop. A potential steal as a late bloomer? Again, I see a trend here.

    I'm not holding out much hope for any of the 3 HS kids being signed. I think they have a shot at Omari Daniel since he is rehabbing from injury. He's a shot in the dark but talented. Does he take a nice, solid $ number and run with it or decide to try college in 2024? If you were 18yo and uncertain what your future was, would you grab a chance at a pro future, and somewhere between $300-500K for an overshot signing? (I'm just spitballing $ numbers with potential $ saved even after Prielipp).

    I just don't see $ available to SS Daniel or OF Dickerson, but you never know. The Twins took a flier on both. Maybe, just maybe, they save enough pool $ with all the senior/4th year juniors that they can tempt them. In most of OUR worlds, I dare say, numbers like $300-500K are a small fortune. But for an 18yo with dreams and aspirations of college ball, a degree, the possibility of being a top 5 round pick or better in 3yrs, it might sound small in the grand scheme of things. 

    But if you're the Twins, why wouldn't you take the shot, just in case?

    This draft will be defined by the first two picks. Anything after is gravy and good scouting work. But I think they worked this draft pretty damn well. 

     

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    First of all, I echo the comments saying 'Great Job, @Jamie Cameron!

    As for the shortstop thing... I think it's their intent to just draft best available... In 2019 and 2021, there was a bigger focus on pitching because those drafts had some pitching depth. The general thought on this draft is that pitching was weak.

    Sean said a big focus was on up-the-middle guys. Of course, that doesn't mean that they'll all stay there, and that's OK. Lee wasn't the #8 overall pick because of his defense. It's because hit bat plays anywhere, and if it's SS, great. Schobel already played mostly 2B. Daniel and Lopez are likely going to college. Everyone gets how hard it is to find an MLB shortstop, so you draft a bunch of them, and try to develop them, and if not, they are great athletes and can move. That's a good thing. 

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    There was rumors they signed Priellip today overslot. 
     

    Also regarding Daniel since he was injured and going to a Juco and if he doesn’t sign, the Twins have up to a year to sign him for $225,000. This sounds like what will likely occur.  

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