• DRAFT DAY: Twins Myth #3448: Outfield Depth

    Tonight at 6:00 central time, the MLB Draft will commence. We have heard now that the Astros will select Stanford right-hander and Houston native Mark Appel. That means that the Minnesota Twins will have their pick of every other eligible player.

    I have freely said that I will not be at all disappointed if the Twins take a college pitcher like Kyle Zimmer or Kevin Gausman, the college catcher Mike Zunino or high school bats like OF Byron Buxton or IF Carlos Correa. In fact, although there is a bunch of risk, I would be just fine with the Twins taking a shot on high school RHP Lucas Giolito.

    Many fans and media types really want the Twins to use the #2 pick on a college pitcher. This makes a lot of sense as the Twins need pitching at every level, and the four pitchers mentioned above all reach into the upper-90s with their fastballs.

    The general consensus appeared to be that the Twins will take Byron Buxton, the talented high school outfielder. Buxton is a very toolsie talent who is already considered strong defensively, with great speed and range and a strong arm. Scouts believe he will hit, but there are plenty of questions about what his upside is. Will he hit for power? We will find out in about four to six years.

    Reading through the comments here and other places, I frequently read about how the Twins don’t need another toolsie outfielder. That is generally followed by a comment speaking about how much outfield depth the Twins have in the minor league system. A year ago, I may have agreed with that, but now? Let’s consider:

    • Denard Span and Josh Willingham have long-term contracts and are both under contract to fill two of the three outfield positions for the next three years. However, these two are the Twins most tradeable assets right now, so we don’t know if one or both of them will be around long-term.
    • Ben Revere, while being very good defensively (range-wise), has struggled with the bat and with getting on base. Of course, he still has room to improve and hopefully he will.
    • Rene Tosoni was the first outfielder to be called up to the Twins in 2011, and although he struggled until September, he did show some power. He went to AAA to start this season again, and was injured early. He returned in May and before the month was over, he was demoted to AA New Britain because he was hitting well under .200.
    • Joe Benson has hit very well in AA the last two years ago, and last September, he was called up to the Twins. During that time, we saw the good and the bad of Benson, but his ceiling is so high. He began this season in AAA but he got off to a slow start. It really got to him and it was necessary to send him down to AA in mid-May. Unfortunately, he broke his hamate bone and had surgery and will miss six weeks.
    • Aaron Hicks had a frustrating 2011 season in Ft. Myers. He had a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League last year. This spring, he was pushed up to AA New Britain where it has been a mixed bag of success and failure. He still hasn’t put up numbers as a left-handed batter, but is very good right-handed. Defensively, he is big-league ready now. The 2008 top pick still has a long ways to go.
    • Angel Morales put up huge numbers in the Appalachian League years ago, but his power has not shown much since then and he has really struggled this year since a great first week. He is still younger than Aaron Hicks, and he has the world of talent, but will it come together soon?
    • Max Kepler is still just 19 years old and will spend his second season in Elizabethton. That is the right thing to do with him, but being so raw means that he could develop into a great player, or he could never develop at all.
    Obviously there are several more outfielders in the system, four to five per team, but for people to say that the Twins have huge outfield depth is, unfortunately, no longer the case. There are too many question marks right now. That isn’t to say that some of these very talented players mentioned above won’t turn it around and become very good regular in time.

    What it does speak to is that you just never know with the draft, at any position, including the outfield. That is why taking the Best Available Player is always the right strategy. Finding the player they believe has the most upside, regardless of age or position. I know that the term “Toolsie Outfielder” seems to mean something negative right now to a lot of Twins fans. However, Torii Hunter and Denard Span were toolsie outfielders. Each of them took six to seven years after being drafted to get a chance in the big leagues. Ken Griffey Jr, Matt Kemp, BJ Upton, Justin Upton, Andrew McCutheon and Jay Bruce were toolsie outfielders. In the same way, Marc Newfeld, Paul Coleman and to some degree, BJ Garbe, were also toolsie outfielders. From the list above, Aaron Hicks, Joe Benson and to some degree Ben Revere were all drafted as toolsie outfielders and the jury is still out on them.

    There are no ‘sure-things’ in the MLB Draft. However, there are several players that Twins fans should be excited about if they are taken with the #2 overall pick. As much as we like and want pitching, taking a toolsie outfielder like Byron Buxton would NOT be a bad pick at all… as long as they address the pitching with several of their remaining five Top 100 picks.

    It will not surprise me in the least if the Twins take Buxton, although I will also not be shocked or disappointed if they pick any of the seven names mentioned earlier. I will, however, be shocked if the Twins do not take Rochester Century’s RHP Mitch Brown with the #32 overall pick in the draft.

    Stay tuned to Twins Daily and the forums throughout the day for any Draft-related news. It is a big day for the Twins and their future.

    This article was originally published in blog: DRAFT DAY: Twins Myth #3448: Outfield Depth started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 37 Comments
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I think that you can look at this another way: Three out of your top 7 prospects are outfielders, a forth (the Twins' second best prospect) is being converted to 2B from the OF, and the fifth, the top prospect, might as well end up at the OF.

      Given than, at least as far as prospects go, the Twins do have indeed a lot of OF depth and are top-heavy in OFs. This does not mean that it is bad, because they can always trade some to fill a need...
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Haha, yeah, the Benson/Tosoni situation this year makes for a herd at A+ and AA instead of a clear line of depth through AAA. I would still say that other than middle relief types, the OF situation is better than everything else in the system, though. Nate Roberts, JD Williams, and Dereck Rodriguez are also involved down at A-/A+ for 2013.

      The Best Player Available approach relies on there being a clear best player available, and what "best" even means (higher ceiling, lower floor, etc?). Just between *position players* it isn't clear between Buxton and Correa, and maybe Zunino as well. Add in the pitchers from Appel to Giolito (and, I would add in Fried as well), and I just don't see much clarity about the best player available.
    1. Dilligaf69's Avatar
      Dilligaf69 -
      Just Grab the best Pitcher available! We need someone who can make an impact in 1 or 2 yrs not wait 4-6 for an OF.
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      Great post Seth, and I'll add this: Let's say for the sake of argument that Benson and Hicks do materialize into the everyday MLB starters we hope they can be; or that Span stays a Twin and Revere adds more plate discipline to his game, and the Twins suddenly have a glut of very, very good outfielders at the MLB and minor league levels.

      The worst case, then, if the Twins take Buxton, is that he becomes a tradeable asset in the event the Twins do look for front-line pitching (or another area that needs filling) in the next few years.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      The biggest thing TwinsDaily followers don't put much thought into is how many of the outfielders will pan out. Does everyone really expect Hicks, Morales, Kepler, etc. to all reach the MLB and have good careers? Byron Buxton is only a HS kid and 18 years old. It will take at least 3 years to develop him and probably longer than that. The Twins of 2016/2017 may not have this kind of outfield depth. This is the reason you go BPA because the minor league is so unpredictable.

      For example, if Buxton has a 15% chance of "success" and every other player has a 14% or less, you take that extra percent. Most may say he IS more risky than the other choices and this is a losing point, but I think upside/natural talent makes prospects more likely to reach the majors.
    1. Cap'n Piranha's Avatar
      Cap'n Piranha -
      No mention of Arcia in this article. Are we assuming it is DH or bust for him at the Major League Level?
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      YHIMH, true, but the "panning out" situation is worse at every other position! That's the thing, maybe the OF depth isn't really deep, but everything about this is relative. It's deeper than everything else except middle relief pitching.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Cap'n Piranha View Post
      No mention of Arcia in this article. Are we assuming it is DH or bust for him at the Major League Level?
      I noticed that right away too. But this statement from the article made me refrain from commenting about it.

      "Obviously there are several more outfielders in the system, four to five per team, but for people to say that the Twins have huge outfield depth is, unfortunately, no longer the case."
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Quote Originally Posted by shanewahl View Post
      YHIMH, true, but the "panning out" situation is worse at every other position! That's the thing, maybe the OF depth isn't really deep, but everything about this is relative. It's deeper than everything else except middle relief pitching.
      I see what you mean, but I'm really just trying to say I'd rather draft a 1st tier OF (at a position of "no need")than a 2nd tier SP (position of need).
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Hicks and Arcia should be stopped from Switch-Hitting. Start working the side that they're most effective at.
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      Thank you! This is the point I've been trying to make and why I think you take Buxton if he's available.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Ed View Post
      Hicks and Arcia should be stopped from Switch-Hitting. Start working the side that they're most effective at.
      Arcia only bats left-handed.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by YourHouseIsMyHouse View Post
      I see what you mean, but I'm really just trying to say I'd rather draft a 1st tier OF (at a position of "no need")than a 2nd tier SP (position of need).
      Oh, yeah, I understand. If the Twins really have it shaking out that way and that Buxton is in a tier of his own, than ok. I just can't imagine how that should be the case. At this point, I just want them to make the damn pick.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by YourHouseIsMyHouse View Post
      Arcia only bats left-handed.
      And he MURDERS RH A+ pitching. Those numbers are crazy. Jacque Jones+??? (offensively).

      I would like to see them experiment with Hicks and see if he hits RH from the right side better than from the left side. They really need to commence that experiment immediately though. If it doesn't work, maybe he goes back to switch-hitting in 2013 and starts the year at New Britain again? Seems worth the chance at improving his hitting somewhat significantly, right?
    1. roger's Avatar
      roger -
      You must be dealing with 'bus lag,' eh? Didn't mention probably the best outfield prospect in the organization, Oswaldo Arcia?
    1. twinstalker's Avatar
      twinstalker -
      The best player in the draft is Carlos Correa. John Sickels, a Twins fan, is almost beside himself with the possibility the Twins will pass on him. (Note: you'll find a mock draft where John takes Appel, but the draft where he got to choose who he wanted, he took Correa).
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by Twins Fan From Afar View Post
      The worst case, then, if the Twins take Buxton, is that he becomes a tradeable asset in the event the Twins do look for front-line pitching (or another area that needs filling) in the next few years.
      I hesitate to even comment on this article because I genuinely don't care who the Twins pick because it really is such a crapshoot anyway. That said, I totally agree that, in theory, you go ahead and take the BPA even if it's at a position of relative depth, because you can always trade that depth for front line pitching.

      The problem with that theory, however, is that the Twins have not historically been willing to do that. And even when they have been willing to, a sizable number of their fans go bannanas. It was almost exactly two years ago that the Twins reportedly had offered Hicks and Ramos to Seattle for a couple months of renting Cliff Lee. People went nuts. Those are two of our top five prospects, you can't do that!!! Fine... so Lee goes to Texas and the Rangers go to the World Series, while the Twins, without anything resembling a front line pitcher, bend over and allow the Yankees to spank them three straight games and haven't sniffed .500 baseball since. Instead, the Twins get Matt Capps for Ramos and still have Hicks trying to bat his way out of AA two years later.

      Point is, it's absolutely right to draft the best player available regardless of position IF you're willing to part with legitimate prospects to fill important (and expensive) needs at critical times. But if you're NOT willing to do that, then you'd better forget drafting BPA and focus on the pitcher with the best upside, because it's the only way you'll ever get a top of the rotation pitcher.
    1. Paul's Avatar
      Paul -
      Quote Originally Posted by shanewahl View Post
      ...I would like to see them experiment with Hicks and see if he hits RH from the right side better than from the left side. They really need to commence that experiment immediately though. If it doesn't work, maybe he goes back to switch-hitting in 2013 and starts the year at New Britain again? Seems worth the chance at improving his hitting somewhat significantly, right?
      This is a lot bigger deal than most realize. I don't know his history but, I think he's 22 yrs old, and he's very likely not seen a RH slider from the RH box since preteen years. And some kids in AA can crack 90 MPH with a slider. The best of them can start it at your ribs and run it off the plate. Unless Hick has terrible uncorrectable mechanics from the LH side, or left eye dominant vision to the degree he can't see in the LH box, this needs to be an absolute last resort.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      It was almost exactly two years ago that the Twins reportedly had offered Hicks and Ramos to Seattle for a couple months of renting Cliff Lee. People went nuts.
      Part of the reasons for that were because a. they were renting Lee for 2 months b. a single pitcher would had not make them WS contenders and c. Lee is a first class $@&%8$&

      If they traded their top 2 OF prospects for the top 2 SP prospects of another organization, it would be a totally different story.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Part of the reasons for that were because a. they were renting Lee for 2 months b. a single pitcher would had not make them WS contenders and c. Lee is a first class $@&%8$&

      If they traded their top 2 OF prospects for the top 2 SP prospects of another organization, it would be a totally different story.
      a. they not only would have had Lee for 2 months, but ALSO either the first shot at re-signing him or TWO compensatory draft picks with which to replace Hicks and Ramos. b. you don't KNOW what his effect would have been, both in terms of winning enough games during the season to change the postseason match-ups and his own postseason performance, nor do you know what additional moves the Twins might have made if they were that committed to winning in 2010. c. So what? Pavano can be, too, and they've kept him around. Are we only interested in aces with personalities we "like"?

      And nobody will ever trade their two best SP prospects for 2 OF prospects, so if that's the only hope you're going to hold on to, forget it... you'd better draft pitching. Teams hoard top-flight starting pitching until a guy becomes too expensive to keep.
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