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:
The second part of the text is what took me a little bit by surprise.
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%)
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.