There was plenty of catching talent available in this year’s draft — and it just happened to coincide to with an organizational need at that position.
So the Twins selected three catchers Friday during the second day of the three-day draft: Third-rounder Stuart Turner from the University of Mississippi; sixth-rounder Brian Navarreto from Arlington Country Day School in Jacksonville, Fla.; and ninth-rounder Mitchell Garver of the University of New Mexico.
The Twins don’t plan to move Joe Mauer to a different position anytime soon, but if someone takes off it would give them options down the road.
“We thought that was an area of need in the system,” Twins scouting director Deron Johnson said. “All of them have legitimate arms, all of them are pretty good receivers so I think we got three legitimate defensive catchers.”
Turner and Garver are finalists for the Johnny Bench Award, given to the nation’s best college catcher. It doesn’t guarantee major league success. Kelly Shoppach (2001), Kurt Suzuki (2004) and Buster Posey (2008) are former winners who have had varying degrees of major league success between 2000 and 2008. The others during that time: Brad Cresse, Jeremy Brown, Ryan Garko (no longer a catcher), Jeff Clement (a Twins minor leaguer), Jake Smith and Ed Easley.
Turner batted .374 for Ole Miss with five homers and 51 RBI in 62 games. Analysts wonder if he will hit in the majors, but the Twins feel he can with a little power. Garver batted .390 with six homers and 68 RBI for the Lobos. Some wonder if he benefitted from a good hitters’ environment.
Navaretto is 6-3 with very good power potential. He made news this season for his involvement in a brawl with an opposing team. The Twins, who administer psychological tests to prospects before the draft, found no issues.
“We have no concerns,” Johnson said. “The off-the-field makeup is very good.”
Twins, Stewart close?
The Twins are trying to reach a deal with first-round pick Kohl Stewart, a righthander from St. Pius X High School in Houston. Indications are that they will push hard to reach a deal over the weekend and could be in position to announce an agreement in a few days.
Before drafting Stewart, the Twins made sure they were close enough on a bonus to wrap up a deal.
The Twins have tried to add power arms in recently years. Did they have any luck this year?
Fourth-round pick Stephen Gonsalves, a 6-5 lefthander from Cathedral Catholic High in San Diego, has a fastball that has been clocked at 92-93 miles per hour. He throws a changeup but needs to work on a breaking ball.
Fifth-round pick Aaron Slegers was 9-1 with a 1.94 ERA at Indiana and was named Big Ten pitcher of the year. He has hit 95 mph with his fastball, but his money pitch is a 88-92 mph sinker. The righthander is 6-9 and 250 pounds.
Seventh-rounder Brian Gilbert, a righthander out of Seton Hall, hit 96 mph during the Big East tournament last week and has a solid slider.
In Round 10, the Twins took Samford righthander C.K. Irby, who hit 97 on the gun last year but had bone chips removed from his elbow last offseason. He didn’t throw as hard this year but still had 90 strikeouts in 91⅓ innings.