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  1. Major League Baseball and Rawlings announced the 2021 Gold Glove Finalists, but there was one notable exclusion from the nominees. Was Max Kepler robbed of a Gold Glove nomination? Corner outfield spots can include a mixture of solid defenders and other players searching for a position where they will cause the least amount of damage. There are many strong defenders in the American League in right field, including this year’s Gold Glove finalists. New York’s Joey Gallo is searching for his second-consecutive win, while Boston’s Hunter Renfroe and Houston’s Kyle Tucker seek their first honor. One of the metrics used to decide Gold Gloves is SABR’s Defensive Index. Those numbers were last updated near the end of August, and Kepler only had one right fielder ranked below him at that time. Gallo (8.6 SDI) was the clear leader in SDI, with Tucker (4.6 SDI) ranking second. Defensively, SDI isn’t the only metric that should be put into consideration for Gold Gloves. According to Outs Above Average, Kepler was one of the AL’s best fielders in 2021. Kepler’s 8 Outs Above Average ranked second in the league behind Manuel Margot. Gallo and Tucker were tied with 6 OAA, and Renfroe posted a -1 OAA, which was 26th among all right fielders this season. Kepler also ranked well concerning other StatCast defensive metrics as his Jump was one of the best in baseball. According to Baseball Savant, “Jump is calculated only on plays that are Two Stars or harder, meaning with a 90% Catch Probability or lower.” Kepler was tied for 15th among all of baseball’s outfielders by covering 1.7 feet above average. Gallo was the lone nominee to rank higher than him with a Jump of 2.1 feet above average. One area where Kepler excels is with 3-Star catches. According to Baseball Savant, 3-Star catches are when an average fielder has a 51-75% chance of making the play. Kepler was a perfect 14-for-14 in relation to 3-Star catches this season. Only four outfielders in all of baseball were perfect in that category this season, and he had three more opportunities than the others. Other defensive metrics have Kepler near the top of the AL. According to FanGraphs, he ranks first in RngR, the number of runs above or below average a fielder is, determined by how the fielder is able to get to balls hit in his vicinity. Kepler ranks third in UZR, with none of the nominees ranking higher than him. Kepler was also one of six AL right fielders to have more than nine defensive runs saved. When looking at the numbers, it seems likely for Gallo to earn his second-consecutive Gold Glove. However, Kepler has built up the defensive resume that should put him in the conversation as one of baseball’s best defensive right fielders. Do you think Kepler was robbed of a nomination? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. Corner outfield spots can include a mixture of solid defenders and other players searching for a position where they will cause the least amount of damage. There are many strong defenders in the American League in right field, including this year’s Gold Glove finalists. New York’s Joey Gallo is searching for his second-consecutive win, while Boston’s Hunter Renfroe and Houston’s Kyle Tucker seek their first honor. One of the metrics used to decide Gold Gloves is SABR’s Defensive Index. Those numbers were last updated near the end of August, and Kepler only had one right fielder ranked below him at that time. Gallo (8.6 SDI) was the clear leader in SDI, with Tucker (4.6 SDI) ranking second. Defensively, SDI isn’t the only metric that should be put into consideration for Gold Gloves. According to Outs Above Average, Kepler was one of the AL’s best fielders in 2021. Kepler’s 8 Outs Above Average ranked second in the league behind Manuel Margot. Gallo and Tucker were tied with 6 OAA, and Renfroe posted a -1 OAA, which was 26th among all right fielders this season. Kepler also ranked well concerning other StatCast defensive metrics as his Jump was one of the best in baseball. According to Baseball Savant, “Jump is calculated only on plays that are Two Stars or harder, meaning with a 90% Catch Probability or lower.” Kepler was tied for 15th among all of baseball’s outfielders by covering 1.7 feet above average. Gallo was the lone nominee to rank higher than him with a Jump of 2.1 feet above average. One area where Kepler excels is with 3-Star catches. According to Baseball Savant, 3-Star catches are when an average fielder has a 51-75% chance of making the play. Kepler was a perfect 14-for-14 in relation to 3-Star catches this season. Only four outfielders in all of baseball were perfect in that category this season, and he had three more opportunities than the others. Other defensive metrics have Kepler near the top of the AL. According to FanGraphs, he ranks first in RngR, the number of runs above or below average a fielder is, determined by how the fielder is able to get to balls hit in his vicinity. Kepler ranks third in UZR, with none of the nominees ranking higher than him. Kepler was also one of six AL right fielders to have more than nine defensive runs saved. When looking at the numbers, it seems likely for Gallo to earn his second-consecutive Gold Glove. However, Kepler has built up the defensive resume that should put him in the conversation as one of baseball’s best defensive right fielders. Do you think Kepler was robbed of a nomination? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. Regardless of what happens over the next 24 hours, this will be my last mock. Be sure to listen to me, the Twins Geek, John Bonnes, and Seth Stohs tomorrow on KFAN from 7-8 pm. Guaranteed to be some good draft talk. It’s the same old story: The Astros - who don’t even hold the #1 pick this year - hold the key to the draft. And there is a really good chance they walk away from it having totally redeemed themselves for last’s year mess. This much is clear: Nothing’s clear. The Diamondbacks are still weighing their options.But the Astros only have to come up with two initial plans. Piecing things together it sounds like it could come down to this: The first of their plans is to take Swanson. If they take Swanson, he will take a significant amount of their #2 slot to sign. Then they’ll go BPA at #5 and will be able to find someone falling at #37. You walk away from - probably - the better plan to get the best player in the draft. The second of their plans is to take Alex Bregman. Bregman could provide them with some savings and more flexibility going forward. That’s where they’ll be able to pull a repeat of their Draft Heist of 2012. Depending on what happens at #3 and #4, there is a very good chance that the two players they like the most, Daz Cameron and Carson Fulmer, are still available. And they might just be able to get them both. If Cameron goes at #3 or #4, which is real possibility at #4 anyway, the likelihood would be that the Astros go with Tucker and take a falling arm at #37 (Justin Hooper?) with money to spend there. If, however, both are available, the Astros take Fulmer (or another college pitcher) and wait. It’s a risk, sure, but not an unprecedented one: the Royals did it when they overdrafted Hunter Dozier to get Sean Manaea later. No way they get both otherwise. With every pick that Cameron doesn’t go - first the Twins, then the Red Sox - the likelihood that Cameron gets drafted goes down, because, of course, how do any of those teams pony up $5 million? Once Cameron makes it past the local Braves, it’s smooth sailing. (There may, however, be a few tense moments when the Royals, Dodgers and Yankees make their picks). Next thing you know, Astros are up getting Daz Cameron for $5 million at #37. Bregman. Fulmer. Cameron. Wow. How does the rest of the draft shake out? 1) Arizona: Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt (no change) 2) Houston: Alex Bregman, SS, LSU (Previous: Daz Cameron) 3) Colorado: Brendan Rodgers, SS, Florida HS (no change) 4) Texas: Dillon Tate, RHP, UC Santa Barbara (no change) 5) Houston: Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt (Previous: Bregman) 6) Minnesota: Kyle Tucker, OF, Florida HS (no change) I have a hard time believing the Twins pass on either Bregman or Tate or Tucker. In the event that all three players are gone, Kolby Allard and, potentially, Tyler Jay rise to the top. 7) Boston: Andrew Benintendi, OF, Arkansas (Previous: Fulmer) 8) Chicago (AL): Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois (no change) 9) Chicago (NL): Jon Harris, RHP, Missouri State (previous: Benintendi) 10) Philadelphia: Tyler Stephenson, C, Atlanta HS (previous: Walker Buehler) This is a change I made later. Stephenson is a wild card, working out for many teams and literally could go #1 or go #14. 11) Cincinnati: Ian Happ, OF, Cincinnati (previous: Harris) 12) Miami: Trenton Clark, OF, Texas HS (no change) 13) Tampa Bay: James Kaprielian, RHP, UCLA (no change) 14) Atlanta: Brady Aiken, LHP, IMG Academy (previous: Stephenson) The Braves have a lot of picks and with that comes a lot of money. They also haven’t shied away from acquiring players - like Max Fried - who have been injured. This would be a great addition to the prospect stable. 15) Milwaukee: Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville (no change) 16) New York (AL): Garrett Whitley, OF, New York HS (no change) 17) Cleveland: Kolby Allard, LHP, California HS (no change) 18) San Francisco: Mike Nikorak, RHP, Pennsylvania HS (no change) 19) Pittsburgh: Ashe Russell, RHP, Indiana HS (no change) 20) Oakland: Walker Buehler, RHP, Vanderbilt (previous: Dewees) 21) Kansas City: Cornelius Randolph, SS, Georgia HS (previous: Aiken) 22) Detroit: Nathan Kirby, LHP, Virginia (previous: Donny Everett) 23) St Louis: Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona (no change) 24) Los Angeles (NL): Mike Matuella, RHP, Duke (previous: Kirby) Both the Tigers and the Dodgers are teams that don’t seem to care about the cost of spending money. They could acquire talented but injured players who never would have made it to them otherwise. 25) Baltimore: Donnie Dewees, OF, North Florida (previous: Happ) 26) Los Angeles (AL): D.J. Stewart, OF, Florida State (previous: Phil Bickford) 27) Colorado: Jacob Nix, RHP, IMG Academy 28) Atlanta: Jalen Miller, SS, Georgia HS 29) Toronto: Donny Everett, RHP, Tennessee HS 30) New York (AL): Chris Betts, C, California HS 31) San Francisco: Nick Plummer, OF, Michigan HS 32) Pittsburgh: Jake Woodford, RHP, Florida HS 33) Kansas City: Phil Bickford, LHP, College of Southern Nevada Bickford should go higher, but tested positive for marijuana recently and will likely drop because of it. 34) Detroit: Cody Ponce, RHP, Cal Poly Ponoma 35) Los Angeles (NL): Justin Hooper, LHP, California HS 36) Baltimore: Alex Young, LHP, Texas Christian 37) Houston: Daz Cameron, OF, Georgia HS And there you have it - the Astros pull a major coup and leave with three of the top 10 talents in the draft. There's been a ton of other draft-related news on the site, so if you've missed any of it, catch up with these links: Swanson/Rodgers/Tate Walker Buehler Andrew Benintendi Kyle Funkhouser Carson Fulmer Tyler Jay Brady Aiken & Kolby Allard Kyle Tucker Jon Harris Alex Bregman Daz Cameron There is also one more set of profiles - The Local Crew - that is yet to come. Click here to view the article
  4. But the Astros only have to come up with two initial plans. Piecing things together it sounds like it could come down to this: The first of their plans is to take Swanson. If they take Swanson, he will take a significant amount of their #2 slot to sign. Then they’ll go BPA at #5 and will be able to find someone falling at #37. You walk away from - probably - the better plan to get the best player in the draft. The second of their plans is to take Alex Bregman. Bregman could provide them with some savings and more flexibility going forward. That’s where they’ll be able to pull a repeat of their Draft Heist of 2012. Depending on what happens at #3 and #4, there is a very good chance that the two players they like the most, Daz Cameron and Carson Fulmer, are still available. And they might just be able to get them both. If Cameron goes at #3 or #4, which is real possibility at #4 anyway, the likelihood would be that the Astros go with Tucker and take a falling arm at #37 (Justin Hooper?) with money to spend there. If, however, both are available, the Astros take Fulmer (or another college pitcher) and wait. It’s a risk, sure, but not an unprecedented one: the Royals did it when they overdrafted Hunter Dozier to get Sean Manaea later. No way they get both otherwise. With every pick that Cameron doesn’t go - first the Twins, then the Red Sox - the likelihood that Cameron gets drafted goes down, because, of course, how do any of those teams pony up $5 million? Once Cameron makes it past the local Braves, it’s smooth sailing. (There may, however, be a few tense moments when the Royals, Dodgers and Yankees make their picks). Next thing you know, Astros are up getting Daz Cameron for $5 million at #37. Bregman. Fulmer. Cameron. Wow. How does the rest of the draft shake out? 1) Arizona: Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt (no change) 2) Houston: Alex Bregman, SS, LSU (Previous: Daz Cameron) 3) Colorado: Brendan Rodgers, SS, Florida HS (no change) 4) Texas: Dillon Tate, RHP, UC Santa Barbara (no change) 5) Houston: Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt (Previous: Bregman) 6) Minnesota: Kyle Tucker, OF, Florida HS (no change) I have a hard time believing the Twins pass on either Bregman or Tate or Tucker. In the event that all three players are gone, Kolby Allard and, potentially, Tyler Jay rise to the top. 7) Boston: Andrew Benintendi, OF, Arkansas (Previous: Fulmer) 8) Chicago (AL): Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois (no change) 9) Chicago (NL): Jon Harris, RHP, Missouri State (previous: Benintendi) 10) Philadelphia: Tyler Stephenson, C, Atlanta HS (previous: Walker Buehler) This is a change I made later. Stephenson is a wild card, working out for many teams and literally could go #1 or go #14. 11) Cincinnati: Ian Happ, OF, Cincinnati (previous: Harris) 12) Miami: Trenton Clark, OF, Texas HS (no change) 13) Tampa Bay: James Kaprielian, RHP, UCLA (no change) 14) Atlanta: Brady Aiken, LHP, IMG Academy (previous: Stephenson) The Braves have a lot of picks and with that comes a lot of money. They also haven’t shied away from acquiring players - like Max Fried - who have been injured. This would be a great addition to the prospect stable. 15) Milwaukee: Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville (no change) 16) New York (AL): Garrett Whitley, OF, New York HS (no change) 17) Cleveland: Kolby Allard, LHP, California HS (no change) 18) San Francisco: Mike Nikorak, RHP, Pennsylvania HS (no change) 19) Pittsburgh: Ashe Russell, RHP, Indiana HS (no change) 20) Oakland: Walker Buehler, RHP, Vanderbilt (previous: Dewees) 21) Kansas City: Cornelius Randolph, SS, Georgia HS (previous: Aiken) 22) Detroit: Nathan Kirby, LHP, Virginia (previous: Donny Everett) 23) St Louis: Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona (no change) 24) Los Angeles (NL): Mike Matuella, RHP, Duke (previous: Kirby) Both the Tigers and the Dodgers are teams that don’t seem to care about the cost of spending money. They could acquire talented but injured players who never would have made it to them otherwise. 25) Baltimore: Donnie Dewees, OF, North Florida (previous: Happ) 26) Los Angeles (AL): D.J. Stewart, OF, Florida State (previous: Phil Bickford) 27) Colorado: Jacob Nix, RHP, IMG Academy 28) Atlanta: Jalen Miller, SS, Georgia HS 29) Toronto: Donny Everett, RHP, Tennessee HS 30) New York (AL): Chris Betts, C, California HS 31) San Francisco: Nick Plummer, OF, Michigan HS 32) Pittsburgh: Jake Woodford, RHP, Florida HS 33) Kansas City: Phil Bickford, LHP, College of Southern Nevada Bickford should go higher, but tested positive for marijuana recently and will likely drop because of it. 34) Detroit: Cody Ponce, RHP, Cal Poly Ponoma 35) Los Angeles (NL): Justin Hooper, LHP, California HS 36) Baltimore: Alex Young, LHP, Texas Christian 37) Houston: Daz Cameron, OF, Georgia HS And there you have it - the Astros pull a major coup and leave with three of the top 10 talents in the draft. There's been a ton of other draft-related news on the site, so if you've missed any of it, catch up with these links: Swanson/Rodgers/Tate Walker Buehler Andrew Benintendi Kyle Funkhouser Carson Fulmer Tyler Jay Brady Aiken & Kolby Allard Kyle Tucker Jon Harris Alex Bregman Daz Cameron There is also one more set of profiles - The Local Crew - that is yet to come.
  5. As far as adding position players to their system, the Minnesota Twins could do a lot worse than high school outfielder Kyle Tucker. The six-foot-five outfielder from Hillsborough County outside of Tampa -- a sun-soaked and highly competitive baseball region -- has all the projectability in the world including an advanced approach at the plate. His plus-hit tool and ability to mash could see him become the next Twins’ first-round draft pick. That is, unless someone else gets to him first.Who is this guy? Tucker comes from a line with a baseball pedigree as his brother Preston was a standout at the University of Florida (where Kyle is currently committed) and has been called up to the Houston Astros this season. While Preston’s power earned him the nickname “Bamm-Bamm”, his younger brother Kyle has five inches on his older sibling and is said to be more athletic (able to play center field) with similar power projectability. According to Perfect Game -- a well-respected amatuer scouting organization which holds showcases and invitationals to pit the nation’s best high school talent against one another -- Tucker’s power tool was rated as the fourth-best in the country. Meanwhile MLB.com said that Tucker has a smooth swing and lauded his “advanced approach at the plate” and Baseball America’s review said that the left-handed outfielder makes “consistent hard contact” with the majority of his power coming to his pull side. http://i.imgur.com/9D6hFbk.gif Tucker’s swing is smooth if slightly unorthodox. He lowers his hands (not unlike the Ted Williams method, for a mental comparison) which some evaluators question may cause issues against more professional grade pitching. Keep in mind, rarely is there a high school prospect who does not make some adjustments to his swing mechanics as he continues to face better competition. http://i.imgur.com/je6UbkP.gif “When he was a sophomore, they called him Ted Williams,” Tucker’s high school baseball coach Dennis Braun told USA Today. “Boy, there’s nowhere to go but down from that. They throw out so many names of I can’t keep track of them. All I know is Kyle, like his brother, can hit. You can’t teach putting the barrel on the ball and that’s the quality everybody is looking for.” Tucker finished his senior year at Plant High School in Tampa with a .484 average and 10 home runs in 64 at-bats. He also added 25 walks to his stats. Often, elite high school hitters are not given many good pitches and Tucker’s reputation earned him a fair share of unintentional intentional walks. Some hitters try to expand the zone just to be able to swing the bat but Tucker stayed within himself -- a skill which cannot always be developed. His fielding abilities are viewed as strong -- good instincts, routes in the outfield and a decent enough arm (he was the high school team’s closer). While he is playing center field now, his future will eventually find him in a corner outfield spot. Why the Twins will pick him Not long ago, the Twins front office confessed their love affair with left-handed bats. For a while they stockpiled this swing-side preference in the farm system, hoping to gain an advantage over the league’s pitching which has a right-handed tilt. Now the pipeline has a right-handed bat slant with Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton aiming to be long-term lineup contributors, adding a left-handed power source like Tucker would be a nice complement to the offense for years to come. In addition to the on-field abilities, Tucker reportedly has outstanding character traits that make teams swoon. Because of his academics and volunteer track record, coupled with his athletic achievements, he was selected as the Gatorade Florida Baseball Player of the Year. In terms of talent, Tucker wouldn’t be a reach and would provide the Twins’ system with some needed left-handed power. Why the Twins will not pick him There’s a decent chance Tucker might not make it to the sixth slot in the draft. The Houston Astros, who have the fifth overall pick, also have Tucker’s older brother, Preston, in their system have kept a close eye on the younger Tucker who is considered to be more athletic than the one currently in an Astros uniform. Outside of that, he is not a pitcher. The Twins have seen what happens when you fail to draft and develop starting pitching -- you either have to overpay for it on the free agent market or you get subpar performer who get shelled (or both). They have added depth over the last few drafts but because developing pitchers is a war of attrition it never hurts to have too much starting pitching. Click here to view the article
  6. Who is this guy? Tucker comes from a line with a baseball pedigree as his brother Preston was a standout at the University of Florida (where Kyle is currently committed) and has been called up to the Houston Astros this season. While Preston’s power earned him the nickname “Bamm-Bamm”, his younger brother Kyle has five inches on his older sibling and is said to be more athletic (able to play center field) with similar power projectability. According to Perfect Game -- a well-respected amatuer scouting organization which holds showcases and invitationals to pit the nation’s best high school talent against one another -- Tucker’s power tool was rated as the fourth-best in the country. Meanwhile MLB.com said that Tucker has a smooth swing and lauded his “advanced approach at the plate” and Baseball America’s review said that the left-handed outfielder makes “consistent hard contact” with the majority of his power coming to his pull side. http://i.imgur.com/9D6hFbk.gif Tucker’s swing is smooth if slightly unorthodox. He lowers his hands (not unlike the Ted Williams method, for a mental comparison) which some evaluators question may cause issues against more professional grade pitching. Keep in mind, rarely is there a high school prospect who does not make some adjustments to his swing mechanics as he continues to face better competition. http://i.imgur.com/je6UbkP.gif “When he was a sophomore, they called him Ted Williams,” Tucker’s high school baseball coach Dennis Braun told USA Today. “Boy, there’s nowhere to go but down from that. They throw out so many names of I can’t keep track of them. All I know is Kyle, like his brother, can hit. You can’t teach putting the barrel on the ball and that’s the quality everybody is looking for.” Tucker finished his senior year at Plant High School in Tampa with a .484 average and 10 home runs in 64 at-bats. He also added 25 walks to his stats. Often, elite high school hitters are not given many good pitches and Tucker’s reputation earned him a fair share of unintentional intentional walks. Some hitters try to expand the zone just to be able to swing the bat but Tucker stayed within himself -- a skill which cannot always be developed. His fielding abilities are viewed as strong -- good instincts, routes in the outfield and a decent enough arm (he was the high school team’s closer). While he is playing center field now, his future will eventually find him in a corner outfield spot. Why the Twins will pick him Not long ago, the Twins front office confessed their love affair with left-handed bats. For a while they stockpiled this swing-side preference in the farm system, hoping to gain an advantage over the league’s pitching which has a right-handed tilt. Now the pipeline has a right-handed bat slant with Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton aiming to be long-term lineup contributors, adding a left-handed power source like Tucker would be a nice complement to the offense for years to come. In addition to the on-field abilities, Tucker reportedly has outstanding character traits that make teams swoon. Because of his academics and volunteer track record, coupled with his athletic achievements, he was selected as the Gatorade Florida Baseball Player of the Year. In terms of talent, Tucker wouldn’t be a reach and would provide the Twins’ system with some needed left-handed power. Why the Twins will not pick him There’s a decent chance Tucker might not make it to the sixth slot in the draft. The Houston Astros, who have the fifth overall pick, also have Tucker’s older brother, Preston, in their system have kept a close eye on the younger Tucker who is considered to be more athletic than the one currently in an Astros uniform. Outside of that, he is not a pitcher. The Twins have seen what happens when you fail to draft and develop starting pitching -- you either have to overpay for it on the free agent market or you get subpar performer who get shelled (or both). They have added depth over the last few drafts but because developing pitchers is a war of attrition it never hurts to have too much starting pitching.
  7. SS Brendan Rodgers of Lake Mary (Longwood HS) in Florida is as close to a consensus #1 as you’ll find in this year’s draft class. That’s on account of him starting at (or near) the very top and - despite having a solid but not great year - that he stayed healthy. His season ended earlier this week with a playoff loss, so he should remain healthy up until the draft. Rodgers has been in the mix to Arizona and since no one has been on the field consistently enough to wrestle it from him, that’s where he’ll remain… for now anyway. P Dillon Tate, UC Santa Barbara, has been the biggest mover this season. The rapid ascension is due to Tate being moved from a reliever to a starter and having success doing it. With that, however, comes the durability question and, lo and behold, Tate missed his last start with a lat strain. While it’s not exactly a long-term concern, when durability was a question mark to start, it’s enough to make you wonder. Or is it? At this point, it won’t matter to the Twins. A relatively healthy Tate will be off the board in the top 5 picks. SS Dansby Swanson, Vanderbilt, has also jumped up the board. Successfully making the transition from second base to shortstop has helped his stock. Personally, I have a hard time ignoring the lack of superstar-level shortstops who come from a four-year college. And Swanson isn’t Tulo (and Tulowitzki went 7th in his draft). To be fair to Swanson, it’s not his fault the draft is not good. But Swanson doesn’t have the pop of Tulowitzki (or even Brian Dozier) and it’s not a slam-dunk he stays at shortstop. The debate, though, is moot because Swanson, who is putting up an 1.100 OPS in the top conference is college, isn’t dropping to the Twins. Those three players are the closest to any consensus Top “pick-your-number” you’ll see and you can feel pretty confident that those three will be off the board before the Twins step to the podium. Of the three, I’d prefer Tate first, Rodgers second and Dansby third - if I were stacking a board - with the bigger gap between Rodgers and Dansby than between Tate and Rodgers. This is where the murky gets murkier. Kyle Tucker, a prep outfielder from Florida, has the prettiest looking swing in the draft and lots of raw power. His stock is quietly going up and it’s been suggested to me that he could be off the board by the time the Twins pick. I’d put him and Twins solidly as a potential match at #6 and that’s why he’s being mentioned only shortly after the “top 3”. He’s also the younger brother of Astro minor leaguer Preston Tucker and you know how the Twins love their bloodlines. Kolby Allard, a prep lefty from California, also shows up in the second group. Allard is unlikely to pitch again until right before the draft, having been sidelined since mid-March with a stress reaction in his back. Allard offers low-to-mid-90 mph heat with a plus curveball, an improving change-up and command that the Twins will love. The knock on Allard is that he’s only going to measure taller than six feet if he stands on his tippy toes. I’d take Allard, cause he’d be signable, he’s young for his class, and his injury isn’t going to be a long-term concern… but he’s really a step below... Brady Aiken. If I would have told you three weeks before last year’s draft that there is a good chance that the Twins would be able to take Aiken, you wouldn’t have believed me. Well, eleven months later, here we are… As we all know, the Astros drafted the polished prep lefty first overall last year and agreed to sign him for $6.5m. An MRI showed some “abnormalities” and the Astros reduced their offer to $5m. Aiken, and his rep Casey Close, balked at that figure and he enrolled at IMG Academy this spring. And as you also know, his season their lasted 12 pitches before he eventually underwent Tommy John surgery last month. There have been other questions raised recently about Aiken, and at this time, there is no general consensus about where he should go. I was told that the afore-linked article gives bloggers a “black-eye”. Basically, Aiken tore his UCL… what else could be wrong/worse? As the article mentions, eventually the truth will be revealed. But for now, health is not my issue with Aiken. He’s an elite talent and you can’t pass on an elite talent because of an injury that many/some/most pitchers will eventually have. My hang-up with Aiken is, if he wouldn’t sign for $5m last year, why would he sign for 20% less than that this year. (The Twins have a sliver under $4m tied to their 6th overall pick.) So, as of right now, those would be my Top 6. Some other names to keep in mind: Louisville pitcher Kyle Funkhouser. Funkhouser has the chops to be a front-end starter, but his lack of command leaves him a step below. Prep righty Mike Nikorak from Pennsylvania is climbing the charts and, with his season just starting, has the most to gain. I’m not going to put him in the Top 6 yet. But I’m not ruling him out. LSU SS Alex Bregman is a player. Where and how he fits is a question, but you can’t simply ignore players like him. Rounding out the Top 10 is Georgia prep OF Daz Cameron. As I mentioned on a draft thread, it doesn't appear the Twins are too heavy on Mike’s kid, but rumors persist that the Astros may pop the Boras client with the 5th pick in the draft. As we wind through the last seven weeks heading to the draft things will change quickly and often, but here’s a good place to start.
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