Drafting in the AL Central

  • Blog Post by: $author
  • June 6, 2011 - 2:15 AM

Tonight at 6:00 central time, baseball's annual draft will begin. The first round, including supplemental first-round draft picks, will be Monday night. On Tuesday afternoon will be Rounds 2 through 30. And finally, the final 20 rounds will take place on Wednesday.

Because the Minnesota Twins had the third-best record in the big leagues in 2010, they will have the 30th pick in the first round. Only the Rays and the Phillies had better records a season ago.The Twins will also have the 50th overall pick, compensation for losing free agent Orlando Hudson, and the 55th pick, for losing Jesse Crain. Both were Type B free agents.

The Star-Tribune sports pages will likely contain much more information on the players that the Twins select on Monday, so be sure to check back. Today, I wanted to take a look back at the last ten Twins drafts and compare them to the drafts of the other AL Central teams. Obviously it is impossible to judge any draft for at least six to eight years, but we can still gather some early information.

Here are the top picks for each team over the past decade:

Minnesota Twins: 2010 - Alex Wimmers (21), 2009 - Kyle Gibson (22), 2008 - Aaron Hicks (14), 2007 - Ben Revere (28), 2006 - Chris Parmelee (20), 2005 - Matt Garza (25), 2004 - Trevor Plouffe (20), 2003 - Matt Moses (21), 2002 - Denard Span (20), 2001 - Joe Mauer (1). 

Chicago White Sox: 2010 - Chris Sale (13), 2009 - Jared Mitchell (23), 2008 - Gordon Beckham (8), 2007 - Aaron Poreda (25), 2006 - Kyle McCulloch (29), 2005 - Lance Broadway (15), 2004 - Josh Fields (18), 2003 - Brian Anderson, 2002 - Royce Ring (18), 2001 - Kris Honel (16).

Cleveland Indians: 2010 - Drew Pomeranz (5), 2009 - Alex White (15), 2008 - Lonnie Chisenhall (29), 2007 - Beau Mills (13), 2006 - David Huff (39), 2005 - Trevor Crowe (14), 2004 - Jeremy Sowers (6), 2003 - Michael Aubrey (11), 2002 - Jeremy Guthrie (22), 2001 - Dan Denham (17).

Detroit Tigers: 2010 - Nick Castellanos (44), 2009 - Jacob Turner (9), 2008 - Ryan Perry (21), 2007 - Rick Porcello (27), 2006 - Andrew Miller (6), 2005 - Cameron Maybin (10), 2004 - Justin Verlander (2), 2003 - Kyle Sleeth (3), 2002 - Scott Baugh (8), 2001 - Kenny Baugh (11).

Kansas City Royals: 2010 - Cristian Colon (4), 2009 - Aaron Crow (12), 2008 - Eric Hosmer (3), 2007 - Mike Moustakas (2), 2006 - Luke Hochevar (1), 2005 - Alex Gordon (2), 2004 - Billy Butler (14), 2003 - Chris Lubeski (5), 2002 - Zach Greinke (6), 2001 - Colt Griffin (9).

So, of the teams' top picks in the last ten year, the White Sox lead the way with seven of them having played in the big leagues at least a day. Cleveland and Kansas City each have had six of their top picks play with the big club while the Twins and Tigers have had five.

Over those ten years, the Twins have had a protected pick (top 15 picks can't be lost when signing a Type A free agent) just two times. That means that they finished the previous season with a record that was worse than at least half of the teams in MLB just twice (in 2007 and 2000). The White Sox have draft in the top 15 four of the ten years. Cleveland has had a top 15 pick six times and the Tigers have seven times. The Royals have picked in the top half of the first round all ten years.

Generally, in each draft there are anywhere from three to eight "sure things" at the top of a draft. The Twins have had a top ten pick once in that time, and used it (in 2001) on Joe Mauer. I think it's fair to call that a solid pick. The White Sox have had a top ten pick once. They selected infielder Gordon Beckham. Cleveland has had a top ten pick just twice adn used them on Drew Pomeranz as year ago, and lefty Jeremy Sowers in 2004. The Tigers have had a top ten pick six times in the last decade. Some of those picks have been great, like Justin Verlander, while others (Kyle Sleeth) never made it. The Royals have had a top ten pick eight times in the last ten years. Those have included Greinke, Hosmer, Gordon, Hochevar and Moustakas, but also includes the infamous Colt Griffin and Chris Lubeski.

I reviewed the draft picks from the first five rounds over the past decade for each team. Over that time, 21 of the 54 picks made by the Tigers have made the big leagues (with at least one plate appearance or 0.1 innings pitched). That's 38.9% The White Sox have had 35.% (20/56) of their draft picks in the first five rounds hit the big leagues. The Twins (24.2%, 15-62), Royals (24.1%, 13-54), and the Indians (22.6%, 14-62) are closer to the league average.

Here are the percentages of 1st round picks over the last ten years (includes supplemental 1st round picks) who have made it to the big leagues: The Royals and White Sox have each had 8 of their 14 first-round picks in the last decade (57.1%). They are followed by the Tigers (6/13 - 46.2%), the Indians (8/18, 44.4%) and the Twins (7/18, 38.9%).  

Of course, if this analysis is run at the end of the season, it could look much different. For instance, Twins minor leaguers like Kyle Gibson, Carlos Gutierrez, Chris Parmelee, Kyle Waldrop and others could add to the Twins totals. Mike Moustakas, Wil Myers, and Mike Montgomery could be added to the Royals numbers. Cleveland could promote Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis by year's end.

That is why it is so important not to make any grand statements about a draft for at least seven or eight years. Consider also that the Twins drafted Torii Hunter in the first round of the 1993 draft out of high school. Although he debuted in 1998, he started getting significant playing time in 1999. Then consider his demotion to AAA in 2000. In other words, there is an example of a pretty good player who was drafted out of high school and did not debut for over five years and wasn't a key contributor for six or even seven years. Chris Parmelee and Joe Benson were drafted out of high school in 2006. It is conceivable that both could get a September call-up, and may have a bigger role within the next two years. That would put them on the Hunter path. For someone like Aaron Hicks, drafted in 2008, that path would bring him to the big leagues in 2013 or 2014. Guys like Ben Revere, Joe Mauer and Eric Hosmer who all were promoted to the big leagues quite quickly after being drafted out of high school are definitely the exception. 

The other thing this quick analysis doesn't do is account for late round picks. For draft picks taken after the fifth round, the odds become much longer. However, once signed and given an opportunity, you never know. In the 29th round in 2001, the Twins drafted Nick Blackburn. In 2006, the Twins took Brian Dinkelman in the 8th round, Jeff Manship in the 14th round, Danny Valencia in the 19th round and Anthony Slama in the 39th round. In 2005, Alex Burnett was taken in the 12th round and Rene Tosoni was drafted in the 35th round. So again, the key point with any draft is that you just don't know.

The Twins traditionally have drafted college pitchers and high school outfielders in the first round. With three picks in the first round on Monday night, it will be interesting to see what the Twins do this year. It may be cliche, but the best strategy is to take the Best Player on their Board. As much as it would be great to get a middle infielder that could start within the next month, even most college players take two or three years to make it. We don't know what the Twins' needs will be then and beyond, so you just want the best players you can draft. The Twins typically try to sign at least their first ten to fifteen draft picks and then determine what to do with their other draft picks. And then the process of signing them and developing them can begin. The ultimate goal is for them to reach the big leagues.

What are your thoughts on the Twins draft history and what do you hope to see from the Twins in this year's draft?


  • Parker wrote an incredible video analysis asking whether Alexi Casilla can sustain his current level of play?
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