Recently I had the opportunity to interview to MLB.com senior writer Jonathan Mayo
about the Minnesota Twins farm system. In Part 1
of that interview, we talked about Aaron Hicks and Kyle Gibson, while Part 2
concentrated on Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. In the final part of the three part series, we talk about the 2014 MLB Draft, whether Josmil Pinto is the Twins answer behind the plate, Trevor May’s future and where you can find some of the Twins top prospects in 2014.
CF – What do you think of the depth of the upcoming MLB Draft, how deep is it in comparison to past years?
JM – From what I can tell, a lot can change in the spring, but early indications are that it seems to be stronger than last year and overall a pretty good class. It looks like there is going to be some very good talent. I mean there always is, but it does seem like it’s going to be a strong class for teams to consider.
CF – Are there any particular players or positions that the Twins are targeting that you know of?
JM – They’ve always been looking at the best available player. A lot of teams say that, but that’s how the Twins actually do it. The Twins pick fifth in the upcoming draft, and they’ve been known to go in any number of different directions. When you’re picking that high you’re always going to get a good player, but there are a lot of possibilities. There is a lot of good college pitching, although the top two guys might be gone by the time they pick.
They could go in any direction, but this all depends on who performs well in the spring, and what they like. There’s a really good high school catcher from California. There’s a really, really good college shortstop at NC State, Trey Turner. There are a lot of good players out there. They will take whoever they feel like is the best available when they’re picking; I think that’s who they are going to take. They aren’t going to not take a guy because they already have enough players in the system.
CF – Should people expect that Josmil Pinto would be able to be the every day catcher for the Twins now that Joe Mauer has moved to first base?
JM – He’s always hit, had some struggles early on but made adjustments. I like his walk rate. Everything points to his ability to be an every day guy. I don’t know much about his overall defensive ability other than the fact that he can throw.
It’s funny that there are all of these offensive-minded catchers that have incredible arm strength. I was just writing about Gary Sanchez, the Yankees prospect. There’s always been a question about his catching, although he’s improved, but he’s got a ridiculous arm. I think that he’s got a chance, and it’s not like they moved Mauer to make room for Pinto, they move Mauer to first to preserve his bat.
That being said, they probably saw enough from him in AA & AAA to think, “Well maybe we stumbled on to something, and we're able to develop something.” I think that he’s got a chance if he can handle the rigors of handling a big league pitching staff, and that aspect of the game. I wouldn’t go nuts, this wasn’t a guy that was highly regarded or groomed in the sense that “Oh when Pinto’s ready we’ll have to move Joe Mauer.” It doesn’t always work that way, sometimes the guys that are hyped don’t always pan out to be what you thought, and sometimes the guys that you think are organizational guys suddenly figure things out, he may be one of those guys.
Catching especially, there are so many things that have to work for you to get to that, it takes a different kind of individual to become an everyday catcher at the big league level. You never know when a highly touted guy is going to flame out because he just can’t put it all together, or when a guy who’s been toiling away, finally figures it out.
CF – Trevor May is a guy who’s been pretty inconsistent and was a big part of the Ben Revere trade, and was well regarded in the Phillies organization. Is this the year he finally breaks through? He’s always had the strikeouts, but is he getting lost in the shuffle with all of the other prospects?
JM – Maybe at some point they consider shortening him up and making him a reliever, but he can’t throw strikes. That’s been his biggest problem, and he kind of regressed. He’s 24, will be for the entire season - there’s still time, but it seems like every time he’s making progress he kind of stalls or regresses a little bit. That happens with power guys.
It’s also kind of weird because he’s a fastball, changeup guy. I’m not sure what you do with that. You usually don’t have a guy coming out of the bullpen with a breaking ball as an out pitch, unless you have Trevor Hoffman’s changeup, and he doesn’t.
I think this is a big year for him, I think he needs to go out and show that he can throw consistent strikes. He was in the Arizona Fall League, and threw mostly relief innings, I’m not sure if that’s because he threw 150 innings during the season or they want to have him throw his slider over and over again, or “let’s get a look at him as a reliever”. I don’t know the answer for sure. I think this is the year that he needs to show that he can command the strike zone enough to be a starter, or he needs to move to the bullpen.
He clearly can miss bats, but it’s a question of strikes, and whether he can maintain his velocity, which is why you don’t want to give up on him. It’s not like he’s going out throwing three innings at 95 MPH and then the next throwing 89. He doesn’t get tired and he doesn’t lose velocity but if it gets to a time that his inability to command the baseball, and his breaking stuff is fringy, you’re not going to have a future as a starter.
Those things need to improve in order for him to stay there. It’ll be interesting to see where he is in the spring. If he comes out of the bullpen, and then the Twins are saying that he can help us out of the bullpen, then he could impact the big league club this coming year.
CF – I’d like to rattle off a few names and you tell me where you believe they will start the 2014 season.
JM – New Britain. I think with how Sano hit in New Britain, the power was there, but he didn’t hit and his walk rate wasn’t terrible and the strikeout rate was higher as well. Could he show up to Spring Training [and] he wows everyone so much that he starts the year in Rochester? Yeah, but I think there would be no harm, given how young he is, to start the year in New Britain, set the Eastern League on fire, and then move up to Rochester.
He’s still very very young and enormous. 6 foot 3, 195 is what he’s listed at, and both of those are off, and from a while ago. The first couple of times I saw him he was like a man-child, he was so enormous and not in a bad way. He’s one of those guys that the bat looks like a tooth pick in his hands. Unbelievable.
JM – After the suspension? He’ll probably have to start doing some sort of rehab depending on the timing of it, but I’ll say New Britain also.
Alex Meyer ?
JM – Rochester
JM – New Britain
Thanks to Jonathan Mayo for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak to me. Make sure to check out his Top 100 prospect list on January 23rd at 10pm on the MLB Network, and then see the full list available on MLB.com. You can also find the first two parts of this interview here and here.