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:
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.
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.
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:
- Twins Daily’s scouting insider Jeremy Nygaard gave his Mock Draft v 1.0.