Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine aren’t traveling around the country to evaluate top prospects this year.
Former players Torii Hunter and LaTroy Hawkins aren’t meeting with potential top picks to judge their makeup.
While the Twins organization continues to break down players in advance of Monday’s annual amateur draft, it isn’t using the white glove test to determine who should be its first-round pick. That’s the difference between picking first overall last year, when the Twins focused intently on a small group of top players, and having the 20th overall selection this year.
Last year was a rarity, with a high school player — infielder Royce Lewis — going No. 1. This year’s top pick, which goes to Detroit, is considered a tossup between two college players, Auburn righthander Casey Mize and Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart.
At No. 20, the Twins will find it harder to click on a first-round pick. That adds a little more pressure to a scouting staff that has received good grades for last year’s class, which included four of the first 76 overall picks.
“We’ll be able to pick from a handful of guys who are going to be in our mix,” Twins scouting director Sean Johnson said. “Hopefully we can pick the right guy. It comes down to having talented people on your staff, which we certainly do. We feel confident we will make a good pick.”
The Twins entered their war room at Target Field on Memorial Day and started paring a list of about 50 college and high school stars. Their goal is to have a dozen or so identified by Monday so they can be ready for anything that happens before their turn comes. They also have the 59th overall pick during the second round. Their first-round pick is projected to take place around 7:30 p.m.
“This is a draft, when you’re picking at 20, it seems like there’s some clarity maybe in the top few picks and it gets a little less clearer on what teams are going to do in front of us,” said Falvey, who has looked at videos of prospects this year instead of traveling to watch in person. “So we just need to be prepared with the top 20 guys on our board to make sure that we know how we have them ordered, because I think almost anything could play out right now.”
The Twins have been linked with several players in recent weeks, including Florida righthander Jackson Kowar, South Florida lefthander Shane McClanahan and Mississippi lefthander Ryan Rolison. Johnson believes that there will be a run on college players early, leaving some good prep talent available at No. 20, so the Twins are keeping that in mind as they construct their run through different scenarios.
“There will be high school position players and high school pitching that will make its way down to us,” said Johnson, who likes the crop of high school pitching available. “There will be some college guys too, but there will be a pretty good blend of players from both.”
A report on MLB.com Friday had the Twins growing more interested in shortstop Osiris Johnson, from Encinal High School in Alameda, Calif. He is a cousin of 2007 NL MVP Jimmy Rollins.
They recently were in Arizona to watch third baseman Nolan Gorman from O’Connor High in Phoenix and lefthander Matthew Liberatore from Mountain Ridge High in Glendale. Some projections have those two going well before 20, but teams might have other ideas on draft day.
Teams will work back channels in “NCIS”-like fashion in an attempt to uncover what other clubs are plotting. In the end, they have to trust their reports and hope the player they want the most is available when their turn to pick comes.
The Twins get two shots on Monday.
“We’re down to two picks in the top 100, so it’s different,” Johnson said. “You’re still trying to pull out good players with upside, but the premium tool guys are gone with in the first few picks.
“But there are still big-leaguers available. The attitude doesn’t change as far as the expectations of getting a truly dynamic player.”