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  • Twins Draft Preview: Experts Weigh In

    Updated 5/24 - While all the previous mocks had the Minnesota Twins selecting shortstop Nick Gordon with the 5th overall pick in the MLB Draft, neither of the two released on Friday did. And the second hinted that the Twins could have some tough (but fruitful) decisions ahead.

    First, John Manuel released his 3rd mock draft and took things a step farther than he had in Mock 2, when he had high school pitcher Tyler Kolek falling to the Twins but the Twins passing on him to stick with Gordon. This time, they didn't pass:

    5. TWINS: Minnesota’s concerted effort to get more power arms in recent years synchronizes well with Kolek’s availability in this scenario.
    Then MLB.com released another mock draft, but this one was by Jim Callis, who is known as one of the more plugged-in writers in Major League Baseball. He also had the Twins selecting Tyler Kolek, but there really was no decision to be made - Nick Gordon had been selected by the Cubs the pick before. He also hinted that if things break right, the Twins could have their choice between Kolek, Gordon and prep catcher Alex Jackson depending on how the Cubs and Marlins feel about high school players.

    Photo courtesy of Rinaldi Photos


    Updated 5/20 - Who will the Twins choose as the fifth overall pick in the upcoming MLB draft? Oddly enough, in their latest mock drafts, Keith Law (ESPN.com), Jonathan Mayo (MLB.com), John Manuel (Baseball America) and Kiley McDaniel (Scout.com) all have the Twins picking the same guy. But how each gets to that point is very different.

    Overview
    This year’s draft features three high-upside pitchers that are at or near the top of almost everyone’s list. (There were four, by the way, but one needed Tommy John surgery.)

    Carlos Rodon – College left-hander from North Carolina State that everyone expected at the beginning of the year to be the #1 pick. He’s been good enough to still be, but others have also risen.
    Brady Aiken – A very polished high school left-hander from San Diego that has risen sharply to be one of the top pitching prospects.
    Tyler Kolek – A 250-pound high school right-hander with 101 mph fastball who will need to work on his command.

    Then there are some position players that are perhaps a half step lower, including
    Nick Gordon – a high school shortstop,
    Bradley Zimmer – a college center fielder and
    Alex Jackson – a high school catcher/outfielder.

    Arms First
    Two of the mock drafts have those three high–upside pitchers going first, second and third and in the same order. Both MLB.com and Scout.com have Rodon going first to the Astros, Kolek going second to the Marlins and Aiken going third to the White Sox.

    They vary in their fourth pick. Jonathan Mayo has the Cubs choosing Jackson, who many feel is the best all-around hitter in the class (and some feel might not stay at catcher because teams will want to promote his bat quickly). But Kiley McDaniel has the Cubs going with what many consider the safest pitcher in the draft – Aaron Nola, a right-hander out of Louisiana State. Nola is also a pitcher in whom the Twins reportedly have some interest.

    But both agree that the Twins would then choose Nick Gordon, who should be able to stay at shortstop throughout his career and has added strength. There have been lots of reports about the Twins zeroing in on him. One question raised by McDaniel is what the Twins do if he's not available – if he’s sniped by one of the teams in front of the Twins, particularly, the Cubs. Another question not raised is whether the Twins might take Jackson over Gordon as in McDaniel’s draft.

    Close But Not Quite
    Keith Law jumbles the picks a bit and has Jackson sneaking into the second spot, nabbed by the Marlins. In his scenario, the Astros grab Aiken, the catcher Jackson is grabbed by the Marlins and the White Sox grab the hefty Kolek. That gives the Cubs a shot at one of the three big pitchers – Rodon, oddly enough – and they snap him up. So by the time the Twins draft, the same names are on the board as they were for the MLB.com draft. The Twins still take Gordon in his scenario.

    An Arm Falls
    John Manuel, however, sees a scenario in which one of the bigger arms falls to the Twins and they need to make a decision. In his scenario, Rodon goes first, as he has in three of these four mock drafts. The Marlins grab the catcher/outfielder Jackson. Interestingly, Manuel mentions that he thinks the White Sox, who pick next, covet Jackson if he gets past the Marlins. In this scenario, he’s gone, so they take the left-handed prep pitcher Aiken.

    When the Cubs choose at fourth, Manuel has them passing on Kolek because a 250-pound high schooler officially qualifies as an “outlier,” especially for an organization that prefer’s college pitchers. So they go with Kyle Freeland, a college left-hander who is moving up the boards fast and provides the right mix of upside and risk. (The other drafts have Freeland being taken soon after the Twins, in the seventh or eighth pick.)

    That leaves the Twins with a big decision. They certainly haven’t shied away from prep pitchers like Kolek. But they have also spent a lot of time scouting Gordon. Manuel lays out the decision:

    “The Twins have done their due diligence on the top prep arms, and their emphasis on finding velocity in recent drafts could lead them to Kolek. But they’ve also done a lot of work on Gordon, whose middle-of-the-diamond athleticism is too much to turn down.”

    The Twins once again end up with the athletic high school shortstop, but I don’t think this will be the last time we’ll talk about a tough decision regarding Kolek and Gordon.

    We’ll update this story as more mock drafts are released. You can also check out the 46-page(!) MLB Draft thread on Twins Daily with several other mock drafts being noted throughout. Finally, you’ll find daily draft coverage on Twins Daily through the 2014 MLB Draft on June 5-7. Previous coverage included:


    Comments 18 Comments
    1. maxisagod's Avatar
      maxisagod -
      Matt Garrioch also posted his 2nd mock today as well:
      http://www.minorleagueball.com/2014/...raft-version-2

      Gordon is also Twins selection in this mock as well. I'd like the Twins to get a crack at Kolek, but I still don't see that happening.
    1. HansGruber's Avatar
      HansGruber -
      Seems Gordon is the consensus pick. There was a similar consensus with Stewart last year but I guess the wild card here is who is pick in the first four spots.
      On another note, Rondon goes to NCST not Stanford.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      If Kolek falls to the Twins and they don't pick him, I have a term for that: Too dumb to live. I usually reserve that term for the guy in a slasher flick that goes to check out that sound in the basement. Passing on Kolek is like passing on CC Sabbathia. Too dumb to live.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      That Cubs scenario seems ridiculous. I respect Manuel but...I can't see the cubs passing on that guy because its not what they normally do.

      Theo Epstein is no fool and doesn't seem like a slave to tradition.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      To me, the Manuel scenario seemed pretty legit. I can see the Cubs looking at Kolek as too risky and going with a safer option. And if the White Sox like Jackson as much as he says, then that means if Kolek doesn't go first or second, he's around at five. (And Manuel has him falling all the way to the PHillies at seven.)
    1. Blackjack's Avatar
      Blackjack -
      Quote Originally Posted by jimbo92107 View Post
      If Kolek falls to the Twins and they don't pick him, I have a term for that: Too dumb to live. I usually reserve that term for the guy in a slasher flick that goes to check out that sound in the basement. Passing on Kolek is like passing on CC Sabbathia. Too dumb to live.
      I like that "too dumb to live" expression!!

      You can never have too much pitching, I say pick Kolek if he's available.
    1. golfboy1's Avatar
      golfboy1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jimbo92107 View Post
      If Kolek falls to the Twins and they don't pick him, I have a term for that: Too dumb to live. I usually reserve that term for the guy in a slasher flick that goes to check out that sound in the basement. Passing on Kolek is like passing on CC Sabbathia. Too dumb to live.

      I wouldn't be quite that hard on them. I'd prefer Kolek if he's available but there are definitely questions or concerns about him. Anyone that throws that hard is a candidate for TJ surgery. He also doesn't seem to be much more than a thrower right now. He "could" turn into the next Colt Griffin as easy as CC Sabathia.

      I'd still take him but I can see why the Twins would go with Gordon or Jackson instead.
    1. drivlikejehu's Avatar
      drivlikejehu -
      I'm fine with passing on Kolek. Too much of his value is tied to velocity. His team lost in the playoffs because he couldn't throw strikes against high schoolers. The bust potential is huge.

      Gordon isn't without risk, but it's certainly less than a raw, flame-throwing high school righthander.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Who was the 4th top pitching prospect that needed TJ surgery. It seems likely all the top guys will need it at some point so there might be something to be said for getting it out of the way early. We are hoping for a rotation mix of Hughes, Gibson, Berrios, May, Meyer, Darnell and Stewart down the road that can stay together for a few years so having another guy with a later target date might not be a bad thing.
    1. Mave's Avatar
      Mave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dantes929 View Post
      Who was the 4th top pitching prospect that needed TJ surgery. It seems likely all the top guys will need it at some point so there might be something to be said for getting it out of the way early. We are hoping for a rotation mix of Hughes, Gibson, Berrios, May, Meyer, Darnell and Stewart down the road that can stay together for a few years so having another guy with a later target date might not be a bad thing.
      http://espn.go.com/college-sports/st...y-john-surgery
    1. Larsbars08's Avatar
      Larsbars08 -
      I would kind of like to see the Twins take a flyer and draft Hoffman. He was considered a consensus top-3 pick before TJ surgery, and as much as TJ surger scares me, a guy with his talent doesn't come around very often. Considering his lack of leverage, he'd probably sign for less, which could free up money for the Twins to throw at someone in the 2nd round with some signability issues.

      Nick Gordon sounds good, but I haven't really heard anything about the offensive side of his game? Has anyone seen any good scouting reports on him?
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Larsbars08 View Post
      I would kind of like to see the Twins take a flyer and draft Hoffman. He was considered a consensus top-3 pick before TJ surgery, and as much as TJ surger scares me, a guy with his talent doesn't come around very often. Considering his lack of leverage, he'd probably sign for less, which could free up money for the Twins to throw at someone in the 2nd round with some signability issues.

      Nick Gordon sounds good, but I haven't really heard anything about the offensive side of his game? Has anyone seen any good scouting reports on him?
      Kind of my point but I don't know how low they think he will fall. Waste to take him in the 1st round if they can get him in the 2nd. I really have no idea.
    1. Larsbars08's Avatar
      Larsbars08 -
      He won't be available in the 2nd round. I was saying it might be worth it for the 5th overall pick. Especially if Aiken, Rodon, Kotek, and Jackson are all gone. Risky as all hell though.
    1. twinsin17's Avatar
      twinsin17 -
      I'm not so sure the Twins would have picked Hoffman without the injury. Now with TJ surgery he is certainly out of the conversation. Given the depth of this draft it would not be surprising if Hoffman was available with our 2nd pick. We have to realize that although TJ surgery has a high success rate (meaning it doesn't end careers as once feared) players rarely, if ever, get back to their pre-TJ selves and the risk of a similar UCL injury is greatly increased. I'd take Gordon, Jackson, Freeland or Nola instead.
    1. DocBauer's Avatar
      DocBauer -
      There is no doubt Kolek is talented and tempting. In the long term, might just be the best player available this entire draft. But there is some concern weight wise and secondary stuff.

      Great reports on Jackson, especially if your are willing to be patient and leave him at C. And I wouldn't be opposed at all to that approach.

      If the teams before the Twins pick smartly, accordingly, aren't looking for a bargain sign to spend more later, I see it coming down to Jackson or Gordon as a position player, and Nola as the best arm available.

      The baseball draft has always been, still is, about the BPA even more than other sports due to the minor league development time. However, that doesn't mean you don't draft based upon organizational need.

      You can never have enough pitching, and I love Nola, but considering the overall depth of pitching talent in the minors, I wonder if SP is our top priority for this draft. The potential of Gordon is excellent in all phases. But while I hate to play a numbers game with a talented youngster with potential that is hard to quantify, I'm not seeing or hearing the equivalent potential of a Sano or Buxton.

      I know this isn't exact, fair, or ultimately accurate necessarily. But it is what we have to work with. And my pick would be Trea Turner. A month of so ago, everyone was jonesing for the Twins to pick him if he fell to us. A good but down season this year has him falling down the board. But previously, we were talking about a college SS, who might move quickly, who cold field and was a legit SS, who could hit, get on base, provide some gap power, and could run like the wind.

      It might be a somewhat surprise pick, but I think I'd go with Turner at 5.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Callis mentioned in his recent mock there is a top tier of 5 players. Aiken, Rodon, Kolek, Jackson, and Gordon. I would be happy with any of them. Outside of them I have Holmes next.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by DocBauer View Post
      There is no doubt Kolek is talented and tempting. In the long term, might just be the best player available this entire draft. But there is some concern weight wise and secondary stuff.

      Great reports on Jackson, especially if your are willing to be patient and leave him at C. And I wouldn't be opposed at all to that approach.

      If the teams before the Twins pick smartly, accordingly, aren't looking for a bargain sign to spend more later, I see it coming down to Jackson or Gordon as a position player, and Nola as the best arm available.

      The baseball draft has always been, still is, about the BPA even more than other sports due to the minor league development time. However, that doesn't mean you don't draft based upon organizational need.

      You can never have enough pitching, and I love Nola, but considering the overall depth of pitching talent in the minors, I wonder if SP is our top priority for this draft. The potential of Gordon is excellent in all phases. But while I hate to play a numbers game with a talented youngster with potential that is hard to quantify, I'm not seeing or hearing the equivalent potential of a Sano or Buxton.

      I know this isn't exact, fair, or ultimately accurate necessarily. But it is what we have to work with. And my pick would be Trea Turner. A month of so ago, everyone was jonesing for the Twins to pick him if he fell to us. A good but down season this year has him falling down the board. But previously, we were talking about a college SS, who might move quickly, who cold field and was a legit SS, who could hit, get on base, provide some gap power, and could run like the wind.

      It might be a somewhat surprise pick, but I think I'd go with Turner at 5.
      There were quite a few people (myself being one) who did not want us taking Turner at the beginning of the season. I think you are overly high on him. I just don't think Turner is a wise pick at 5. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I think the Twins should take an upside pick here. Turner doesn't have the upside.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Jackson > Kolek > Gordon IMHO.
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