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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Examining the Draft

A few days after the June 6th 1st year player draft is a good time to reflect on what was perhaps the Twins most critical draft ever, attempting to replenish a minor league talent pool that shows promise at the lower levels, but lacks major league ready talent. Despite their now seemingly yearly June surge (having won 9 of their last 11 games), the Twins are still in a deep hole in the AL Central cellar and the next few weeks will be critical in determining the Twins action with the forthcoming July trade deadline. In particular, critics of the Twins farm system (including myself) have bemoaned their lack of high caliber arms and a team ERA of 5.01, good for 31st in the majors would seem to underline this weakness.

The Twins certainly took a stab at correcting this imbalance, selecting 24 pitchers out of their 43 draft choices. The Twins should be commended in choosing toolsy outfielder Byron Buxton with the second overall pick. Widely considered the top talent in the draft, the Twins had the opportunity to pick top college pitching option Mark Appel after the Astros surprisingly chose Puerto Rican SS Carlos Correia with the number one overall pick. The Twins went with the best available talent and in Buxton have secured a talented player who has drawn comparisons to Justin Upton.

The Twins used their two compensatory 1st round picks to start stacking up on arms, including their own Puerto Rican prospect – Jose Berrios at number 32 and younger brother of Boston’s Daniel Bard Luke Bard at number 42. Berrios is a compact right hander who throws consistently in the mid 90s and has a plus fastball and power curve, as well as a serviceable changeup. Bard, who served as a closer at Georgia Tech, has similar stuff, with a slightly larger frame at 6’3. Most scouts projected Bard to be a relief option at the next level, but the Twins are adamant about making a starter out of him.

With their next two choices the Twins drafted two power throwing college closers, in left handed Mason Melotakis out of Northwestern St at number 63 and intriguing 1B closer combo J.T Chargois out of Rice at number 72. Scouts suggest that both are capable of becoming setup men at the big league level, if not closers.

It seems as if the Twins stuck o their projections on draft day and are determined to not be pigeonholed into being labeled as a ‘pitch to contact’ team any longer. The additions of Buxton, as well as two hard throwing starters and a pair of hard throwing late inning relievers would be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Twins a few years down the line at the big league level. Due to the new pay structure from the new CBA signed this season it seems there will never be another team with as many high picks as the Twins had this season, with 5 of the first 72. Everything points towards them having taken full advantage of their draft position. Only time will tell.

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