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  • Draft Board v.3.0 (4/20)

    The draft is now only six weeks away. Some things are starting to come into focus; other things are as cloudy as ever.

    A quick reminder: The Twins first pick (fourth overall) has a draft slot value of just around $4.5 million.

    The strategy that the Twins select the Best Player Available early in the draft remains true. The Twins will follow that strategy yet again this year.

    Though it should be pointed out – as I do each month – that the Twins very rarely deviate from the norm: In the last 20 years, the Twins have had 24 1st round draft picks (not counting supplemental picks). Of those 24 picks, 11 have been prep position players and eight have been college pitchers. The other two groups: college position players (4) and prep pitchers (1) have been much less represented.

    In the eyes of those in the front office, when the draft board is stacked, an emphasis is placed on two groups: prep position players and college pitchers. So while there may always be a debate about who is the BPA, the Twins will likely error on the side of one of those groups.

    Easy enough to follow, right?

    Typically, yes. This year, I don’t believe so.

    I recently inquired about Kohl Stewart, a prep pitcher from Texas. The response I got from a Twins source read as follows:
    How many High School pitchers taken in the last 10 years inside of the top 5?
    The answer is four. The first two have not been good. The last two, Jameson Taillon and Dylan Bundy, however, have been excellent. In addition to that, another prepster, Jose Fernandez, has made his big-league debut despite being drafted after some college pitchers who are still in the minors.

    The second part of the text is what took me a little bit by surprise.
    Normally that would be too high, but anything goes in this draft, I suppose.
    The piecing together of this draft board just got more difficult…

    JEREMY’S SMALL BOARD
    (Keep in mind, please, that this is not a “mock draft”. This is not a reflection of my top players. This is my attempt at stacking a “Twins Draft Board”, based on a number of things.)

    1) Jonathan Gray, RHP, Oklahoma (previous: 4)

    WHY HE'S ON THE BOARD: I don’t think the Twins have a discernible difference between the top two prospects on the board. And because of that, if given the choice between the two, it would be much easier to draft Gray. Gray turned down $500,000 a few years ago, and despite having the leverage to return to school for another year, Gray doesn’t have an agent (yet) that is out trying to break records and make points. (Chance Gray drops to Twins: .01%)

    2) Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford (previous: 1)

    WHY HE'S ON THE BOARD: Appel could be in an Opening Day rotation as soon as 2014. If he lasted until the Twins picked at #4, he would help form quite the two-headed monster with Alex Meyer. Of course, the questions with Appel will always be attached to his price tag and his advisor, Scott Boras. There is some growing thought that getting anything over the $3.8 million that he turned down last year would prove Boras’ point and make Appel a winner. I still think that the Twins would have to borrow against the rest of their draft to get him under contract. But that is a risk I’d be willing to take, if given the opportunity. (Chance Appel drops to Twins: 5%)

    3) Kohl Stewart, RHP, Texas HS (previous: NR)

    WHY HE'S ON THE BOARD: Let me preface this by saying that there is a big gap after Gray and Appel. You could probably list six to eight names here and have an argument. When it comes down to it, the “upside” is what leads Stewart to this position. Equipped with a mid-90s fastball and wipeout slider, Stewart has top-of-the-rotation stuff. The Twins – and every other team in baseball – will need to do their homework, though. Stewart is also a stud QB (and committed to Texas A&M) who’s price tag may determine where he gets drafted. There have already been reports that the Astros are sniffing around the local (to Houston) product with thoughts of popping him 1-1, much the same as they did last year in drafting Carlos Correa. (Chance Stewart drops to Twins: 85%)

    4) Austin Meadows, OF, Georgia HS (previous: 8)

    WHY HE'S ON THE BOARD: While I prefer the flair of Clint Frazier, the Twins apparently have Meadows, the “more complete package”, rated higher. Meadows is younger (still 17) and, in comparing the two, has favor in all the “Twins Typical” categories: better defender, better baseball-feel, better hit-instincts, better base-runner. The feel I get about Meadows is that he would fit perfectly (eventually) in left field. A .300-type hitter with power and speed might make Twins fans go crazy for the simple fact that he is what he is: ANOTHER TOOLSY OUTFIELDER! (Chance Meadows drops to Twins: 65%)

    5) Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State (previous: 2)

    WHY HE'S ON THE BOARD: I’ve been a fan of Manaea since he dominated the Cape Cod League last summer. In his last four starts on that circuit, Manaea went 30 innings, allowed seven hits and one walk – that’s a WHIP of .267 – and struck out 47 (for a K/9 of 14.1). He was dialed up and dialed in, throwing in the high-90s.

    He hasn’t been the same guy since. In fact, if it weren’t for last summer, Manaea would be a “projectable lefty” going in the second half of the first round. Manaea really seems to labor when there are runners on base and, despite having the advantage of being a lefty, has a non-existent pickoff move. He’s much further away from the big leagues than either Gray or Appel, but that Cape Cod success carries a lot of weight with the Twins brass.

    Personally, I feel this is a “can’t-go-wrong” pick for the Twins and their fans, even though plenty of question marks surround him. (Chance Manaea drops to Twins: 60%)

    6) Colin Moran, 3B, North Carolina (previous: NR)

    WHY HE'S ON THE BOARD: Moran is arguably the top collegiate bat in all the draft. He shares a quality with the Twins most recently drafted collegiate hitter, Levi Michael, in that they both attended North Carolina. I have Moran ranked higher than Kris Bryant, because the likelihood (at least in the Twins eyes) is that, presumably, Moran has a better chance to stick at third. (If they wanted to draft a first baseman fourth overall, they’ll take California prep 1B Dominic Smith – which they won’t do.) (Chance Moran drops to Twins: 80%)

    7) Ryne Stanek, RHP, Arkansas (previous: 7)

    WHY HE'S ON THE BOARD: It’s plenty ironic that the prospect who has seen his stock fluctuate the most is the only player on this board who sits in the same position as he sat last month. Stanek still possesses both a very good fastball and slider, but hasn’t had the results (up until recently) to back up the hype. He’s had short outings where he’s thrown far too many pitches. And then he goes and blows away LSU, a team that may have the most potent offense in the NCAA. Although drafting Stanek would be an upset, it could pay huge dividends down the road. (Chance Stanek drops to Twins: 99%)

    8) Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego (previous: NR)

    WHY HE'S ON THE BOARD: Bryant ranks near the top of all power hitters in this draft. If he were in the Twins system, only Sano would have more raw power. Like Sano, there are many questions about where Bryant plays defensively. He won’t get a ringing endorsement from scouts that he can stay at 3B or handle RF, making him a 1B. Power was an emphasis last year – and may be again this year – and that could help the big right-hander’s chances of getting drafted by the Twins. (Chance Bryant drops to Twins: 65%)

    9) Clint Frazier, OF, Georgia HS (previous: 3)

    WHY HE'S ON THE BOARD: Frazier may very well be gone by the time the Twins draft. Scouts are split on him and Meadows and both have a chance to go Colorado. It comes down to preference and the Twins prefer Meadows. (Chance Frazier drops to Twins: 65%)

    Other notes:
    OF Ryan Boldt, Red Wing HS, has been dealing with the same weather as the rest of us in the Midwest. He’s been holding workouts in the hockey rink. He did enough last summer, though, to prove that he’s a 1st rounder. While it would be neat for the Twins to draft him, they won’t be able to.

    P Logan Shore, Blaine HS, is the top prep pitcher in the state. He’s signed to play next year at Florida and may prove to be a difficult sign, unless he goes in the first couple of rounds.

    A guy that I mentioned as someone I liked in the last update, Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Tennessee HS, underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month. He will miss the remainder of his senior season and enroll in Vanderbilt in the fall. While it’s doubtful that he will sign, it wouldn’t shock me if a team took a flyer on him at some point in the draft as a Plan D fallback option.

    A name to remember is Daniel Palka, OF/1B, Georgia Tech. The Twins don’t typically draft a lot of first baseman, but they always seem to draft one. Palka has big-time power from the left-side of the plate. Another player with questions defensively, Palka is holding his own in the outfield, but will settle at first base. Palka would be a cheaper alternative to taking Moran or Bryant fourth overall.

    There will probably be one more installment in mid-to-late May before making minor changes up until the draft on June 6.

    Feel free to discuss. You can follow me on Twitter (@jeremynygaard) for draft updates.
    This article was originally published in blog: Draft Board v.3.0 (4/20) started by Jeremy Nygaard
    Comments 46 Comments
    1. Pitz's Avatar
      Pitz -
      Thanks for the great write-up and solid info Jeremy. I was just starting to think that Manaea was becoming the more and more likely pick for the Twins, but your placement of Stewart ahead of him has me rethinking. Of course there's still quite a bit of time until the draft for things to change.
      I was wondering if you think (or have any inside info) that the Twins' drafting of a lot of college relief pitchers last year is a strategy that they will look to employ again this year, or if it was just something that fit that particular draft/talent. Was it a strategy that they employed and they were targeting those players, or was it just kind of how the draft played out?
    1. Dance with Disco Dan's Avatar
      Dance with Disco Dan -
      For the last two weeks I've been warming to the idea of taking Kohl Stewart even though prep arms are the biggest crap-shoots in the draft. I would really like to see the Twins take a pitcher with a top of the rotation ceiling and I am leery of the performance fall-offs by Manaea and Stanek. I don't believe Stewart's Texas A&M commit will provide him nearly as much leverage as if he had signed elsewhere. Johnny Football will only be a Sophomore and is not likely headed to the NFL early because he's so small. The gamble in me says go for it.

      Ultimately, I will be happy when clearer heads than mine take Manaea. For now, its fun to dream on the next Texas fire-baller in my team's system.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      Quote Originally Posted by Pitz View Post
      Thanks for the great write-up and solid info Jeremy. I was just starting to think that Manaea was becoming the more and more likely pick for the Twins, but your placement of Stewart ahead of him has me rethinking. Of course there's still quite a bit of time until the draft for things to change.
      I was wondering if you think (or have any inside info) that the Twins' drafting of a lot of college relief pitchers last year is a strategy that they will look to employ again this year, or if it was just something that fit that particular draft/talent. Was it a strategy that they employed and they were targeting those players, or was it just kind of how the draft played out?
      I believe the thought process went into drafting pitchers that have good velocity and can miss bats. Twins believe they could convert some of them and the others might be able to rise through the system quickly in relief. There was more focus put on power arms. Rob Anthony alluded to it in his interview that is on the Twins page. Needless to say, this was a huge shift from taking control pitch to contact guys for the last 10+ years (I've only been watching drafts for 10 years).
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Taking Stewart would be against everything the Twins have always done but I like it. Take someone with true ace potential and hope for the best. For me is moving into that tier with Bryant/Frazier/Meadows (edit - Denney also) and possibly Manaea. I feel uneasy about Manaea for some reason.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Badsmerf View Post
      Needless to say, this was a huge shift from taking control pitch to contact guys for the last 10+ years (I've only been watching drafts for 10 years).
      Actually, Deron Johnson has been doing that since he took over the draft in 08. The pitches he's taken have generally been high risk power arms - Bullock, Bashore, Gibson, Bard, Hunt, Gutierrez, Bullock, Chargios, Boer, Berrios (and, apparently, he gets so excited about them, he doesn't usually get past the "B"s list).

      Although it isn't as simple as that - Johnson did take a control guy like Wimmers and Radcliff took fireballers like Garza, Johnson, Durbin and Crain.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Nice write up Jeremy. So one possible scenario for the Twins could be: Astros take Stewart and save a few bucks, Cubs jump on Grey. Rockies decide not to deal with Appel and take a bat they can dream on leaving Appel for the Twins at #4.

      It's a dream though. Rockies have taken a pitcher first in 3/4 last drafts and their system is strong in hitting and weak in pitching. It would be hard to see them not taking Appel or Grey if he slipped to them.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Like Badsmerf said, there was an emphasis put on power arms... but also power hitters too.

      I would guess that the early season success of Melotakis and Duffey (if it continues) will cause the Twins to employ a similar strategy again this June. I don't have the exact numbers anymore, but the amount of innings pitched collegiately by the draftees last year was considerably less than the innings pitched by the guys drafted in 2012. Like 75% less. Pitchers arms are like running backs legs, you can only get so many miles (or innings) out of them in a lifetime (with some exceptions), the Twins have been burned by overused college guys (another reason Stewart could be a great pick).

      Manziel will be a redshirt-sophomore next year (so he could declare for the 2014 NFL Draft), but I agree - especially if he is taken very high - he'll go the baseball route.

      kab21, I'm with you. The 2nd tier is about six guys deep. Bonus demands will separate those guys as the draft approaches. It might come down to taking the guy who's scout is willing to bet his job on his guy.

      FYI - and obviously the crosscheckers/supervisors have input as well...
      Stewart's scout - Greg Runser, the signing scout for both Melotakis and Duffey. (Chargois as well.) (Runser has respectfully declined my overtures.)
      Meadows' scout - Jack Powell, the signing scout for both Buxton and Bard.
      Manaea's scout - Jeff Pohl
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      I could definitely go with Stewart. He's not one that would step in and help the next wave, but he could be up in 4-5 years if all goes well. The thing about Stewart is that it's probably going to take 2M or so to get him to sign (or so I've heard). They could definitely do that in the top half of the draft, but if he slips lower, he may not get drafted at all.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Thanks for all the great inside information like always Jeremy.

      I'm really glad to see that the Twins might actually be high on Stewart. I have had Stewart in the top 10 for the whole draft process but after seeing him pitch this week live, currently live in Houston, he jumped to #3 on my draft board. He had a 10/4 K/BB ration, hit 96 a few times with the fastball, and only gave up two hits in 7 innings of work. After Gray/Appel he is the only other guy I see ace potential in. I hope to do a general write up on him on Monday.

      Like you, I have Frazier above meadows but it doesn't surprise me that the Twins don't. They love tools. While I was pretty happy with the Buxton pick I would be pretty disappointed with meadows personally.

      I'm with you on being uneasy with Manaea kab21. He just hasn't been the same guy since the cape. I have him ranked #8 on my board and in my third tier. As I say this, gun to my head, he is who I would guess the Twins end up taking.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Great wrteup. I have my doubts you can take college relievers and make them good starters, I hope I am wrong, but there isn't much history of that. I read all the time that pitchers are high risk, and often do not work out. To that i would say that if you draft hitters, you are even less likely to develop pitchers.....

      i want pitching. The draft is the best path to it. Given this write up, I would take any of your four pitchers over any hitter.....though if you really think sano can stay at third, why is Bryant a bad idea? A top power hitting first baseman does not grow on trees.
    1. nfisch22's Avatar
      nfisch22 -
      What about Trey Ball? Big left handers don't grow on trees and his future looks to be on the mound as he's struggled a bit at the plate this year.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      This draft is considered weak overall because of the lack of overall top talent after the first 5-8 guys, lack of college position players, and high school SS/RHP, not pitching in general. There are a ton of good college pitchers/HS LHPs that will be around in round two and later.

      Last year after drafting Buxton they loaded up on arms, they traded for arms in the off season, and got a pretty good one back from injury in Gibson. While the system could use some more arms, can say that about every system, they aren't as barren as they were a year ago.

      As I say this the top three players on my board are all arms so I would love to see Appel, Gray (how cool would it be to have Meyers/Gray pitching back to back days?), or Stewart go to the Twins at 4. If they take a bat that's cool too though. Personally I prefer Frazier/Bryant to meadows/Moran.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Jon Denney should probably be in this list. Might have more upside than Zunino and good catchers are hard to pass. Zunino was 3rd overall last season, so I think that Denney would make the top ten. Would be interesting to see if the Twins pick him because that is a position of need in the organization, plus might save some $ at their 1st round slot.
    1. Pitz's Avatar
      Pitz -
      Whether or not the college relief pitchers are able to make the transition to starters isn't really a big concern to me. Of course it would be nice if even one of them could, but I think that having a system full of power relievers also has its benefits. Hopefully, it would allow the Twins to maintain a young cost controlled bullpen at the big league level which in turn would prevent them from overspending/trading for volatile bullpen guys. Of course, I could also see if having the opposite effect, where they are in contention but decide they don't want to trust the young guys down the stretch. But I'm going to pretend I didn't type that last sentence like I wish I could pretend they didn't trade Ramos for Crapps. Alas, I've digressed. Back to the draft discussion - I wouldn't mind seeing them continue to target power relief arms after their first couple picks.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Thanks Jeremy , nice work, very informative
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Surprised you are so low on Bryant.

      Advanced power bats like his don't often bust out. But I get your point regarding positioned value.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      There could be a case made for Denney or McGuire. The Twins have had better luck with collegiate catchers recently and don't draft more than one or two catchers. From what I've gathered, the Twins didn't seem overly eager to go see either, so from that, I'm left them off of the list. (Looking through notes, I do have something on Denney: "Good player. Not going in first four picks, definite first rounder." But that was from a few weeks ago.)

      Power arms - the Twins want to have a bullpen like the Royals, full of hard-throwing guys.

      It's not that I'm necessarily low on Bryant; he's a big-power guy. From what I've heard (and I'm not going to guarantee it plays out this way), is that all of Bryant's value is in his bat. The Twins draft "toolsy" almost to a fault, so drafting a one (no more than two) tool guy at #4 seems far-fetched. (In fact, I got some early-season indication that the right-handed power bat that most impressed the Twins is Fresno State OF Aaron Judge, who also has more defensive skills than Bryant, but less of a overall hit tool.)

      Appreciate the comments; good discussion.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      About Trey Ball... haven't heard much and haven't gotten any indications that he's even on the radar. But, again, things are pretty fluid around this time.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Pitz View Post
      Whether or not the college relief pitchers are able to make the transition to starters isn't really a big concern to me. Of course it would be nice if even one of them could, but I think that having a system full of power relievers also has its benefits. Hopefully, it would allow the Twins to maintain a young cost controlled bullpen at the big league level which in turn would prevent them from overspending/trading for volatile bullpen guys. Of course, I could also see if having the opposite effect, where they are in contention but decide they don't want to trust the young guys down the stretch. But I'm going to pretend I didn't type that last sentence like I wish I could pretend they didn't trade Ramos for Crapps. Alas, I've digressed. Back to the draft discussion - I wouldn't mind seeing them continue to target power relief arms after their first couple picks.
      It matters if you use high draft picks, and pass on guys that give you kore than 60 innings a year.....
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Nice analysis, thanks for all the effort.

      I have to say though, the Twins can pay lip-service to the BPA myth all they want, but if they truely have Moran over Bryant, then it's all talk. Even if they feel Bryant will move to 1B, then they would just be weighing a 3B vs a 1B and clearly Bryant is the more talented player.
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