The annual baseball Rule IV baseball draft is less than four months away. And while both the college and high school seasons still have to be played, it’s never too early to start looking ahead at the draft.
This draft takes on an added interest if you’re a Twins fan. The team has not drafted higher than 14th overall since taking some guy named Mauer with the top overall pick in 2001. The 2012 draft brings not only the #2 overall pick, but also six total picks in the Top 100. For a franchise that has done a great job developing home-growing talent, it couldn’t come at a better time as the farm system has arguably the least amount of available talent in recent memory.
There are a handful of players who are consistently considered to be at the top of the draft board, but rather than focus on those players – who may or may not still be there in June – I’m going to look at something that won’t change between now and then: The Twins drafting trends and potential targets that those trends suggest.
Before last June’s draft I examined the patterns that I had seen in the Twins early draft picks. This year I’m going to look at something that probably goes unnoticed by draft fans: the teams desire to select re-drafts as well as Minnesotans.
My initial thought was to break this into two separate posts, but the more research I did, the more I realized that guys would appear on both lists.
Before getting deeper into this I want to add a few notes that I’m speculating to be fact when the draft rolls around. I’d encourage you to read up if the new rules are unfamiliar to you.
The Twins will overdraft players that they can pay below slot. In 2007, the Twins selected a virtual unknown in the first round and paid him $330,000 less than slot. Under the old CBA, that’s a great “savings.” Starting in June, that’s going to be a phenomenal job of “banking.” The player turned out to be Ben Revere, so not only was the pick great, it was also great strategy.
Even though GM Terry Ryan resigned Matt Capps and referenced not caring about the draft pick they could have gained for letting him walk, the Twins aren’t about to overspend in the draft and forfeit draft picks.
In fact, the Twins are much more likely to “bank” savings and leave them there instead of using that money to go sign the players that dropped because of signability issues.
The Twins – with all their picks – will have the largest amount of money in their draft pool, rumored to be just over $11m, to spend on the first ten rounds of the draft. I hope they spend every penny.
Every year while following the draft a couple of Twins picks names will be very familiar. Not because I’ve familiarized myself with the 1400 plus names that are getting picked, but because a couple of these names will be guys the Twins have drafted and not signed in previous drafts. While pouring over names available for June’s draft, I ran across a few guys that have been drafted previously. The following are a list of guys that will get drafted in June and might just end up hearing their name called by the Twins.
James Ramsey, OF, Florida State. Ramsey, a 22nd round pick in 2011, was offered 2nd round money and turned it down to return for his senior season. Ramsey, who also has experience as an infielder, used a very strong summer showing to raise his draft stock and will start this season as one of the top prospects in the senior class nationally. It is very conceivable that the Twins could use one of their sandwich-round picks to pluck Ramsey. Without the leverage of returning to school, whoever drafts Ramsey is going to get a player that won’t demand more than slot.
Pat Light, P, Monmouth. Light was drafted in the 28th round in the 2009 draft out of a New Jersey high school. It appeared at the time that he was part of a fallback plan in case 1st rounder Kyle Gibson wasn’t signed. Since that time, Light has put on over 20 pounds and added 4-6 mph on his fastball. Light is still plenty projectable, but hasn’t had great results. Although he’s been a starter in college, his stuff might be better suited for the bullpen. If Light struggles again, he’ll probably drop into the 8-10 round range and be a tough sign. If he figures it out this year, he’ll be a Top 100 pick and get a chance to start in the minors.
Ronnie Richardson, OF, Central Florida. Richardson was drafted in the 11th round in 2009 by the Twins and again as a draft-eligible sophomore by the Cubs in the 31st round in 2011. As a junior, Richardson will have leverage, but I think if he could take a do-over, he’d sign as an 11th rounder. The thing that I find most interesting about Richardson is that the Twins drafted him to be a SS, yet he’s played strictly in the OF for UCF. He’s tiny like Ben Revere, only not as fast and has a better arm, and it’s probable that the Twins would try to make him a 2B, you know, the thing they should have done with Ben Revere.
TJ Oakes, P, Minnesota. Oakes was given the “courtesy” 41st round draft pick by the Twins in 2011 as a draft-eligible sophomore. It was pretty clear before the draft – and vividly clear after the draft – that Oakes wasn’t going to sign. The Twins really like the pitcher whose build and repertoire resemble that of Nick Blackburn and will - unless they’re beaten to the punch - definitely re-draft Oakes this June… only it will probably be 35 rounds higher this time.
Oakes also serves as an excellent bridge to the second part of this post.
Over the past six drafts, there have been 60 Minnesotans drafted. Of those 60, 20 of them have been drafted by the Twins. That’s a remarkable percentage. It’s also stays consistent from year to year. The Twins have drafted two or three in-state products every year, except for the year it drafted six (in 2008). With that in mind, it’s a virtual guarantee that the Twins will draft at least two Minnesotans in June. I anticipate Oakes being one, but let’s look at who might end up being the other(s).
Mitchell Brown, P, Rochester (Century) HS. Brown can already run it up to 93 mph and is committed to San Diego University. It’s hard to speculate about Brown’s signability, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Twins use one of their half-dozen top 100 picks to grab the top prep pitcher in the state of Minnesota.
Austin Lubinsky, P, Minnesota. Lubinsky was drafted by the Giants in the 36th round of the 2011 draft but elected to return to the Gophers for his senior season. Lubinsky reminds me a little bit of former Twin Kevin Slowey. With only 40 rounds in the draft now, Lubinksy could find himself going in the 28-34 range.
Of course, at this point we're dealing with a lot of speculation when it comes to the draft. As the draft gets closer, we'll look at guys who fit the "Twins mold" and eventually look at some other players who may be candidates to be selected by the Twins early on.
Originally found at www.ManCenter.com