ADVERTISEMENT

Twins go on a pitcher power trip in Day 2 of draft

  • Article by: La VELLE E. NEAL III
  • Star Tribune
  • June 7, 2014 - 7:11 AM

This will go down as the draft in which the Twins were drunk with power. Power arms, to be exact.

Without really planning on it, the Twins spent the second day of the draft on ­Friday selecting college pitchers with big arms. Of the 10 players they have selected over the first two days of the draft, eight are pitchers and seven of them have touched 95 miles per hour with the fastball.

Talk about blowing someone away in the draft.

And the one time they didn’t draft a pitcher Friday, the Twins selected Cooper High School product and Bradley center fielder Max Murphy.

The power trip began on Thursday when they selected Louisville righthander Nick Burdi in the second round. Burdi topped out at 103 mph for the Cardinals this season and also has a wipeout slider.

In the third round, the Twins picked righthander Michael Cederoth of San Diego State — whose fastball hit 100 mph. He projects to be a reliever.

Lefthander Sam Clay, from Georgia Tech, was taken in the fourth round. He’s touched 95 but settles in at 93 with a promising slider. But their fifth round pick, Jake Reed, a righthander from Oregon, has hit 97 on the gun — with very good movement — to go with a good slider and has the bulldog mentality to be a closer.

“It wasn’t the plan going in,” said Deron Johnson, the Twins scouting director. “It was like a snowball effect.”

Righthander John Curtiss, the sixth-round pick, was a top prospect out of high school who signed with the University of Texas but has had Tommy John elbow surgery and also had a rib removed to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome. He recovered and has touched 96 mph while working out of the bullpen. The Twins might ­convert him to a starter.

“He’s got a nice body and three pitches he can throw for strikes,” Johnson said.

Seventh-round pick Andro Cutura, a righthander from Southeastern Louisiana, is the one pitcher without a blazing fastball, but he was 10-2 with a 1.95 ERA this season.

Missouri righthander Keaton Steele has had rotator cuff and labrum tears in his shoulder but has come back to hit 96 on the gun. He spent most of the year in the bullpen but started games late in the season.

Murphy was taken in the ninth round after an impressive workout on Monday at Target Field.

“He actually hit a few balls out of the ballpark,” Johnson said. “He’s 5-11 but is put together very well. He runs well, throws well.”

Tenth-rounder Randy ­LeBlanc, a righthander from Tulane, has hit 97 on the gun but has to sharpen his pitches. He could stick as a starter as well.

Johnson said a lot of the starting pitching prospects they liked were gone by the third round, so they looked for pitchers with tools, and some with hard fastballs were still available when it was their turn to draft.

The Twins have tried to collect power arms before. The lesson they have learned is that they must keep adding them. In 2012, they drafted J.T. Chargois, Zack Jones and Luke Bard because of their power arms and all three haven’t pitched an inning this year because of injuries.

“It’s always an objective and a goal,” Twins Assistant General Manager Rob Antony said. “Sometimes it’s how your board starts to fall. You can never have too many. You know there are going to be injuries.”

© 2014 Star Tribune