• Which Team's Aces Did the Twins Miss?

    The Minnesota Twins have struggled to accumulate starting pitching lately. This stems from a variety of factors. Their drafting strategy, their inability to sign international players and their unwillingness to spend big money on the free agent market are all factors that have gone against this club's ability to acquire big name starters.

    Here is a look, division by division, at the ace for each pitching staff and the players Minnesota selected ahead of each ace in the draft. At the end of each division there is a summary. For some teams it was hard to select a best pitcher since most of the starters were mediocre.

    CAUTION: This exercise is meant to be a fun. There is obviously a lot that goes into finding a starting pitcher for the top of the rotation. In the past, the Twins have had the opportunity to draft some of the top pitchers in the game.

    AL East
    Boston Red Sox Ace: Jon Lester (2002 2nd Round, 57th overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: Denard Span (20th overall)

    New York Yankees Ace: CC Sabathia (1998 1st Round, 20th overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: Ryan Mills (6th overall)

    Baltimore Orioles Ace: Jason Hammel (2002 10th Round, 284th overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: Denard Span (20th overall), Jesse Crain (61st overall), Mark Sauls (92nd), Alex Merricks (122nd), Clete Thomas (152nd), Pat Neshek (182nd), Rick Barrett (212th), Adam Lind (242nd), Doug Deeds (272nd)

    Toronto Blue Jays Ace: R.A. Dickey (1996 1st Round, 18th overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: Travis Lee (2nd)

    Tampa Bay Rays Ace: David Price (2007 1st Round, 1st pick)
    Twins Picks Ahead: none

    Summary: The Twins even had one of these aces in their system, but Dickey hardly looked like the Cy Young winning player he was in 2012. Skipping over Sabathia for Mills was a tough decision, especially for a club that was trying to rebuild through the early 2000s. A rotation with Sabathia and Santana at the top would have been golden in Minnesota.

    AL Central
    Detroit Tigers Ace: Justin Verlander (2004 1st Round, 2nd overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: None

    Kansas City Royals Ace: James Shields (2000 16th Round, 466th overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: Adam Johnson (2nd), Aaron Heilman (31st), Tagg Bozied (42nd), J.D Durbin (54th), Colby Miller (72nd), Jason Miller (102nd), Edgardo Lebron (132nd), Ronnie Corona (162nd), James Tomlin (192nd), Henry Bonilla (222nd), Ken Holubec (252nd), Kelley Guledge (282nd), Josh Rabe (312th), Jason Kubel (342nd), Shane Boyd (372nd), Cory Agar (402nd), Jeff Lincoln (432nd), Dan DeCola (462nd)

    Cleveland Indians Ace: Justin Masterson (2006 2nd Round, 71st overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: Chris Parmelee (20th), Joe Benson (64th)

    Chicago White Sox Ace: Chris Sale (2010 1st Round, 13th overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: None

    Summary: To be fair, a lot of team's missed out on Shields when he wasn't taken until the 16th round. For the Twins, there are a lot of names on that list from 2000 that are pretty embarrassing. The team did score a late round find with Kubel, but there were no pitching prospects from that draft for the Twins. From the 2006 draft, it would be nice to have Masterson in the Twins rotation. The jury is still out on what Parmelee and Benson can offer for the future but it seems like the Twins missed one there.

    AL West
    Texas Rangers Ace: Yu Darvish (International Signing)
    Twins Picks Ahead: N/A

    Oakland Athletics Ace: Tommy Milone (2008 10th Round, 301st overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: Aaron Hicks (14th), Carlos Gutierrez (27th), Shooter Hunt (31st), Tyler Ladendorf (60th), Bobby Lanigan (92nd), Daniel Ortiz (126th), Nicholas Romero (156th), Brett Hermsen (186th), Daniel Osterbrock (216th), Jeff Lanning (246th), Michael Gonzalez (276th)

    Seattle Mariners Ace: Felix Hernandez (International Signing)
    Twins Picks Ahead: N/A

    Los Angeles Angels Ace: Jered Weaver (2004 1st Round, 12th overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: None

    Houston Astros Ace: Lucas Harrell (2004 4th Round, 119th overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: Trevor Plouffe (20th), Glen Perkins (22nd), Kyle Waldrop (25th), Matt Fox (35th), Jay Rainville (39th), Anthony Swarzak (61st), Eddie Morlan (91st)

    Summary: The two best aces in this division were international signings so the Twins didn't have a wasted draft pick instead of selecting those two. Milone and Harrell aren't exactly front of the rotation guys so it might be fine that the Twins passed on them. There are obviously some misses on the Twins draft board from both of those years because neither Rainville nor Morlan have had an impact on their big league clubs.

    NL East
    Atlanta Braves Ace: Tim Hudson (1997 6th Round, 185th overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: Michael Cuddyer (9th), Matt LeCroy (50th), Michael Restovich (61st), Greg Withelder (93rd), Bob Davies (123rd), Peter Blake (153rd), Nate Melson (183rd)

    Washington Nationals Ace: Stephen Strasburg (2009 1st Round, 1st overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: None

    Philadelphia Phillies Ace: Cole Hamels (2002 1st Round, 17th overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: None

    New York Mets
    Ace: Matt Harvey (2010 1st Round, 7th overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: None

    Miami Marlins
    Ace: Jose Fernandez (2011 1st Round, 14th overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: None

    Summary: Maybe the best division for the Twins as far as not missing out on starters. Many of the aces in this division are high-ranking draft picks from the years when the Twins were near the top of the AL Central. Hudson was a tough miss for the club. Cuddyer turned himself into a solid major league player but many of the other players from that draft have faded into oblivion. It would have been nice to have Hudson around for the club's rebuilding years.

    NL Central
    St. Louis Cardinals Ace: Adam Wainwright (2000 1st Round, 29th overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: Adam Johnson (2nd overall)

    Cincinnati Reds Ace: Johnny Cueto (International Signing)
    Twins Picks Ahead: N/A

    Pittsburgh Pirates Ace: A.J. Burnett (1995 8th Round, 217th overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: Mark Redman (13th), Jason Bell (43rd), A.J. Hinch (72nd), Jay Hood (100th), Doug Mientkiewicz (128th), Shane Gunderson (156th), Mike Moriarty (184th), Will Rushing (212th)

    Milwaukee Brewers Ace: Yovani Gallardo (2004 2nd Round, 46th overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: Trevor Plouffe (20th), Glen Perkins (22nd), Kyle Waldrop (25th), Matt Fox (35th), Jay Rainville (39th)

    Chicago Cubs Ace: Jeff Samardzija (2006 5th Round, 149th overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: Chris Parmelee (20th), Joe Benson (64th), Tyler Robertson (96th), Whitney Robbins (119th), Garret Olson (126th)

    Summary: The Johnson pick at number two is going to haunt the Twins for decades and it sure would be nice to have Wainwright as the ace of the staff. Gallardo has also turned into a decent pitcher for Milwaukee and it would be nice to throw him into the middle of the Twins rotation. The Twins had five of the first 40 picks in '04 and they didn't get a single starter out of that group. Burnett and Samardzija aren't really front of the rotation guys so it's a little easier to see why the team passed on them.

    NL West
    San Francisco Giants Ace: Matt Cain (2002 1st Round, 25th overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: Denard Span (20th)

    Colorado Rockies Ace: Jhoulys Chacin (International Signing)
    Twins Picks Ahead: N/A

    Arizona Diamondbacks Ace: Ian Kennedy (2006 1st Round, 21st overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: Chris Parmelee (20th)

    Los Angeles Dodgers Ace: Clayton Kershaw (2006 1st Round, 7th overall)
    Twins Picks Ahead: None

    San Diego Padres Ace: Edinson Volquez (International Signing)
    Twins Picks Ahead: N/A

    Summary: In 2002, the Twins passed on quite a few top starters to take Span. His name has been featured on this list multiple times. This past offseason the Twins turned Span into a potential front of the rotation pitcher in Alex Meyer so maybe his selection turned out to be the right decision. It's hard to look at Cain, though, and not want to see him in a Twins uniform; he has already helped the Giants to two World Series rings.

    So which ace did the Twins miss out on the most? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
    This article was originally published in blog: Which Team's Aces Did the Twins Miss? started by Cody Christie
    Comments 11 Comments
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      I count nine of them that were drafted before the Twins could even draft. It makes me wonder if maybe there is something to using that 4th overall pick in the draft on a pitcher, even if there is a little bit "better" player on the board. I'd be interesting in seeing how many of these guys fall into each category:

      - players chosen before the Twins could get them
      - players chosen in the 1st round
      - players in teh 2nd round
      - players after the 2nd round
      - international signings.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      I don't call a lot of these guys aces. I guess it's semantics.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      I don't call a lot of these guys aces. I guess it's semantics.
      The article stipulates the definition of ace as best pitcher on each team. Pretty clear I think.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      The best of all these pitchers were unavailable or international signings. Cain would have been nice to have, but Span turned into one of the best players we've had this decade. Can't really fault the Twins for any of these. The best were already drafted and for a lot of the other guys, all teams passed on them.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      Interesting post, with plenty of time and perspective on our side. In football, it's called "Monday Morning Quarterbacking." Dad's jargon: "If if's and but's were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas..." Still, this whole website is an opportunity to reminisce and speculate.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      I'd be interesting in seeing how many of these guys fall into each category:

      - players chosen before the Twins could get them
      - players chosen in the 1st round
      - players in teh 2nd round
      - players after the 2nd round
      - international signings.
      - players chosen before the Twins could get them - 9
      - players chosen in the 1st round after Twins picked - 5
      - players in the 2nd round - 3
      - players after the 2nd round - 7
      - international signings - 5
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      It would be interesting to get the scouting reports on the 7 players taken after the second round to get an idea on why teams missed on them
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      The Adam Johnson pick was unfortunate but to say it is going to haunt them for decades is a little unfair. The 2000 draft was historically awful. Wainwright and Utley were the only big leaguers worth anything to go in the first round. Sure it would be nice to have those two but if the team only had a 7% on hitting on a contributor in that round can't fault them a whole lot.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      I guess we don't include the Boston offer of Lester, Masterson, and CF Coco Crisp as part of our analysis. Perhaps said designation of "Ace" ( I'm guessing #1 pitcher on said team) is a bit too restrictive--maybe #2 pitchers should be included? IIRC, Cliff Lee was 5th or 6th Round. There are others who would sure improve the Twins rotation--but fall short of your "Ace" designation--that were definitely available.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      I guess we don't include the Boston offer of Lester, Masterson, and CF Coco Crisp as part of our analysis. Perhaps said designation of "Ace" ( I'm guessing #1 pitcher on said team) is a bit too restrictive--maybe #2 pitchers should be included? IIRC, Cliff Lee was 5th or 6th Round. There are others who would sure improve the Twins rotation--but fall short of your "Ace" designation--that were definitely available.
      That was part of my issue. In adition to some teams having two aces (e.g., Boston, Detroit), a lot of guys designated as aces don't deserve the designation. Just because they are the best pitchers on their team doesn't make them better than whomever we drafted that year. You have to define it somehow, and this is the easiest way to define it. But it is one of the least helpful ways.
    1. Brodin4Calder's Avatar
      Brodin4Calder -
      Matt Cain is the guy we missed out on, some of the other ones were picked way after our pick so we probably werent even thinking about them. How are the Twins so bad a picking pitchers or signing them?
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