• 25 Minnesota Twins Drafts in 25 Days: 1997

    Travis Lee was being a real jag and didn't want to sign with the Twins after the 1996 draft. The Twins did not want to duplicate that jaggery in 1997. They had a strict "no-jag" policy in '97, opting instead for super nice guys. In the end, the Twins drafted two very popular players and one (perhaps) unfairly unpopular player. They also drafted a guy who they would later draft much higher and with much worse results. Stay tuned!

    1st Round Picks

    The Twins had two, as the aforementioned jag did not sign. The Twins had the 9th overall pick, and used it to draft Michael Cuddyer. "Cuddy," or "Cuddy Bear," as he would be affectionately called, took some time to get it going, but ultimately became a useful and versatile player, albeit one with a very red face. With their Lee pick, the Twins drafted Matt LeCroy. He looked like a teddy bear, so the Twins completed the Cuddy Bear/Teddy Bear combo successfully.

    ~~~
    Originally posted at Kevin Slowey was Framed!

    In the last few days, I have posted a few more draft recaps at my blog. If you missed them, and want to read about them, you can find them here:
    1994
    , 1995, 1996
    .

    ~~~

    Ah, but what if?


    I know that Cuddy was very popular, but Lance Berkman went 16th overall and was roughly four times the player as Cuddyer (by WAR, which I know, I know, it sucks, but just handle it, k?). Berkman has a semi-decent Hall of Fame case and a no-doubt Hall of Fame nickname - Big Puma. Would he have become Big Puma in Minnesota? He'd probably be Berky or LancePants, so I think everything worked out perfectly for all stakeholders.

    Best Player Drafted


    Well, well, well, if it isn't Mr. Nick Punto! Punto narrowly edges Cuddyer out by WAR, mostly because he was a great defensive player with good on-base skills and he battled just slightly more than Cuddy. Honestly, Nick Punto drew a lot of ire from fans, but was never the worst player on the team and not nearly as embarrassing as Denny Hocking and his frosted tips. (Unprovoked Hocking shot alert!).

    Of course, Punto didn't actually sign with the Twins. He went back to school (he's smart) and was drafted in the 21st round by the Phillies the following year. He would then come to the Twins in the 2003 Eric Milton trade.

    Worst Player to Reach MLB


    25th-round pick Adam Johnson, who posted a -1.1 career WAR. You may remember Johnson as a first-round pick, but that would come a few years later. In fact...

    The One Who Got Away


    I'd argue that Johnson is the one who got away. If the Twins had signed him back in 1997, he wouldn't have been around to draft in the first round in 2000. If not him, Punto, but he eventually found his way back to the flock.

    Best Name


    Tagg Bozied in the 50th round. Much like the Terminator, "he would be back, later."

    Fun Facts


    • The Twins drafted future backup quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo in the 34th round. He should have been in soap ads; seems like a huge missed opportunity.
    • Michael Restovich, the Twins' second-round pick, went to Mayo High School. When you think of it, it's a Miracle that he Whipped himself to the Big Leagues. Right?
    • The Twins drafted Tim Sturdy in the 23rd round. Oddly enough, he was 7' 5" and 155 lb.
    • Michael Cuddyer was arguably a better pitcher than Adam Johnson
    • The Twins drafted David Justice in the 49th round, which was later deemed illegal, as Justice was an established player with the Braves. It was worth a shot.


    All those drafted who made it to the Bigs


    Nick Punto, Michael Cuddyer, J.C. Romero, Matt LeCroy, Michael Restovich, Kevin Frederick, and Adam Johnson

    One Sentence Summary


    LEAVE NICK PUNTO ALONE!
    This article was originally published in blog: 25 Minnesota Twins Drafts in 25 Days: 1997 started by Brad Swanson
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      This series would be much more useful / interesting if you had a list of who was drafted and their round somewhere in the text.
      You don't even say what round Punto was drafted!
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Punto was a decent player who tended to have good years followed by horrible years. He wasn't the problem. Gardenhire and Ryan/Smith were the problems for casting him as a starter (instead of a very good utility player) and and for overpaying for him. When he left, he signed a contract that made him a good value, and if the Twins could have signed him to the same contract (and convinced Gardy to give him 250-300 plate appearances) (which would have meant finding someone better to start) they should have. Of course, with the Nishi debacle he would have ended up starting again, which would have been painful for all sides (although not as painful as watching Nishi.)
    1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
      Brad Swanson -
      I completely agree! Here is a link to the Twins 1997 draft from Baseball Reference:

      1997 Minnesota Twins Picks in the MLB June Amateur Draft - Baseball-Reference.com

      Their tables are much more useful than anything I can create. I'll add a link to each year's draft in future posts. Thanks for the idea!

      As for leaving Punto's round out (33), I clearly had to slight him in some way, even if done unintentionally.
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