Yesterday, we looked at hitters the Twins might target in the first round, today, we’ll look at pitchers.
A few notes before we begin. I mostly focused these two ‘overview’ pieces on who the Twins might take a number eight overall (as opposed to focusing on later picks). Additionally, I’ll profile these players in alphabetical order, there's no preference here. I think it’s worth pointing out that the Twins are extremely likely to take a hitter. That’s not a front office ‘thing’, it’s simply how the talent stacks up at the top of the board. In baseball, you take the best player available, no matter what. There is a group of 8-12 hitters, most of whom I think will come off the board before we see pitchers start to be picked.
Unlike yesterday, there are no assumptions to make in this scenario. If the Twins go with a pitcher in the first round, I expect them all to be available when Minnesota selects at eight overall. That’s reflective of the strength of this year’s draft class. The top of the first round is flush with extremely impressive, borderline elite bats. The pitching talent at the top of the class is much more scattered.
Dylan Lesko, RHP, Buford HS
Lesko was the number one pitcher on the board and a consensus top ten pick until Tommy John surgery ended his season. In 2021, he managed 112 strikeouts in just 60 innings. Lesko offers a mid to high-90s fastball that he locates well. The biggest weapon in his arsenal is his changeup. The pitch has been described as one of the best prep changeups ever scouted. Lesko is committed to play for Vanderbilt, which, in combination with his injury, may pose an issue for a team picking him. Additionally, he falls into the riskiest draft sub-group, prep right-handed pitchers. Despite the uncertainty, Lesko has the highest upside of any pitcher in the draft and legitimate front-of-the-rotation potential.
Brock Porter, RHP, Orchard Lake St. Marys
Porter is a tall, slender prep prospect out of Michigan, a state that doesn't produce a ton of first-round talent. He has a 70-grade fastball that regularly hits 97 mph but he has also cranked up to 100 mph. Additionally, he carries a 70-grade changeup that has significant tumble. Porter also throws a curveball and a slider, both of which need more work but have a chance to be above-average pitches. Porter has work to do in refining his command, but his arsenal is so impressive, it has not been an issue to date. Porter is committed to Clemson, but could be the first pitcher taken in the first round in the wake of Lesko’s injury.
Connor Prielipp, LHP, Alabama
A Tomah, Wisconsin, native, Prielipp has been ranked in the 30-50 range on most big boards throughout the draft process. His inclusion here is a result of the Twins being connected to him in recent weeks. Prielipp’s progress was hindered by Tommy John surgery in 2021 but a strong showing at the MLB draft combine has vaulted him into first-round consideration. He offers a mid-90s, 60-grade fastball, and a devastating 70-grade slider that had a 50% whiff rate in college. Prielipp is seen as a little bit of a draft wild card due to a limited track record, but two pitches above a 60 grade give him elite stuff.
Kumar Rocker, RHP, Independent Ball
Of all the pitching prospects in the 2022 draft class, Kumar Rocker has the most pedigree. In three years at Vanderbilt, he put up a 2.89 ERA and a 33.2 K%. After being drafted 10th overall by the Mets in 2021, he never signed due to concerns around his medical records. Rocker elected to pitch in independent baseball this spring, showing stuff that is in the same realm as his peak with the Commodores. Rocker has a fastball that reaches the upper 90s, a 70 grade slider, a cutter and a decent changeup. Rocker is an unknown in the 2022 draft class as it’s unclear how his medicals will be viewed and perceived by teams. He has the stuff and the track record to be a front of the rotation starting pitcher.
Mississippi State right-hander Landon Sims was in-line to be the top college arm taken in the draft before Tommy John surgery ended his season. He has an electric fastball (velocity ad movement) and a wipeout slider. Florida prep lefty Brandon Barriera is a smaller framed lefty who is expected to go at the end of the first round. Gonzaga right-hander Gabriel Hughes has a strong fastball slider mix and a ton of projectability, as he will only be 20 on draft day. Tennessee righty Blake Tidwell missed the first six weeks of the season to injury but can ramp his fastball up to 99mph, with a deceptive arm slot. Lastly, Minnesota native and Iowa Adam Mazur is ranked on big boards around where the Twins will pick for the second time. Mazur struck out 98 in 92 innings pitched this spring, increasing his fastball velocity to the 94-97 mph range to compliment a sharp 12-6 curveball and a smooth mechanical approach.
If the Twins take a pitcher at number eight overall, who would you like to see them draft and why?