Pressure is on, so Twins must draft wisely

With the No. 2 overall draft pick, the Twins know they can't repeat past mistakes.


Stanford pitcher Mark Appel

Photo: Gerry Broome, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

It's a pick the Twins know they can't afford to mess up. And one they have messed up in their past two tries.

Thanks to 99 losses a year ago, the Twins landed the No. 2 overall pick in Major League Baseball's amateur draft on June 4. It became apparent last year that their minor league system was short on top prospects, an opinion seconded by several national publications that have ranked the Twins farm system from middle-of-the-road to near the bottom of the league.

They have an excellent chance in June to land someone who could become an impact player at the major league level.

"We can't miss on that," Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. "We can't and we shouldn't."

History offers no assurances. The Twins had the No. 2 overall pick in both 2000 and 1996, and both times came up almost empty. They selected righthander Adam Johnson in 2000 and first baseman Travis Lee in 1996. Johnson pitched briefly in the majors, while Lee was declared a free agent after the Twins failed to offer him a contract within 15 days of the draft, a mistake that team officials blamed on not wanting to distract Lee while he played for the U.S. Olympic team.

The Twins have settled on a handful of players they consider candidates to go No. 2. The scouting process with some of them goes back to their early teens.

Finances will be less of a concern this year, Twins officials say. Not because the Twins have a stack of blank checks, but because bonus constraints have been written into the latest collective bargaining agreement. Teams will have a pool of bonus money to spend and will face severe penalties if they exceed their bonus pool.

There are a handful of prospects considered possibilities for the Twins at No. 2, according to national experts.

Stanford righthander Mark Appel, Georgia prep outfielder Byron Buxton, University of San Francisco righthander Kyle Zimmer, Arizona State shortstop Deven Marrero and University of Florida catcher Mike Zunino are considered the top prospects for the draft. California prep righthander Lucas Giolito was part of the mix before injuring his right elbow in March. Given the Twins' recent injury history, they likely won't take a chance with Giolito even if he's deemed healthy.

A year ago, the draft was considered one of the deepest in years. This year's class is considered to have a dropoff in talent compared with 2011, although Appel and Zimmer have mid-90s fastballs, Buxton is multitooled, Zunino has good power and Marrero is considered a complete prospect.

"Every round, every year breaks down differently," said Mike Radcliff, Twins senior vice president in charge of player personnel. "Last year, there were eight super guys. This year is about five, and they are not super guys, just five guys at the top."

Jim Callis, executive editor of Baseball America, agrees.

"There are some good players this year and some legitimate No. 1 picks, but this year's draft isn't as deep, especially when it comes to college talent," Callis wrote in an e-mail. "I'd say the top tier right now would be Buxton, Appel, Giolito [if he's healthy, which we won't know for a while], Zimmer and Zunino. Marrero could be in that mix, too, but I don't see him [and probably not Zunino] going No. 1."

The draft offers no guarantees, even among high picks. History is full of examples of high picks becoming wasted money, and every team has been affected. The last time the Twins had a No. 2 overall pick they selected Johnson from Cal State-Fullerton. He reached the majors in 2001 but appeared in only nine games during stints in 2001 and 2003. He last pitched professionally in 2009, in an independent league.

Three players selected in the first round in 2000 have thrived in the majors -- Adrian Gonzalez (first), Chase Utley (15th) and Adam Wainwright (29th). Phil Dumatrait (22nd) has survived. That's it out of 30 picks.

Although much attention has been placed on the No. 2 pick, it's what a team does in the early to middle rounds that can define a draft. The Twins, because of compensatory picks for Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel leaving as free agents, have five of the first 75 picks of the draft.

It's a great chance for them to restock their system with talented prospects. But history suggests caution there as well. The last time the Twins had five high picks was 2004, when they had five of the first 39 picks and selected Trevor Plouffe, Glen Perkins, Kyle Waldrop and righthanders Matt Fox and Jay Rainville. The Twins were praised for having a good draft. But Fox and Rainville suffered injuries and never were the same, Plouffe is being moved to the outfield, Perkins has found a home as a setup man, and Waldrop has been injured and still is trying to reach the majors. The class will look much better if Plouffe realizes the potential Twins officials still believe exists.

The Twins know that their success in this year's draft will go a long way toward winning in the future. They need to draft well not only at No. 2, but with several other top picks.

"We're very excited about the opportunity we have to select an outstanding prospect," said Deron Johnson, Twins director of scouting. "Obviously, there's a lot of interest in that No. 2 pick, but we have five of the first 75 picks of the draft that we're focusing on."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Baltimore «00010110X381
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:A.Miller(5-5) L:J.Burton(2-3) S:Z.Britton (30)
HR: MIN- None BAL- J.Paredes (1)


NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront 5 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 3
Minnesota - LP: J. Burton 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 3
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 7 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 2
Miami - WP: J. Cosart 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Boston - LP: A. Webster 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 7
Cleveland - WP: J. Tomlin 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: S. Downs 2
Detroit - WP: K. Ryan 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Bassitt 4
Texas - LP: P. Klein 0 FINAL
Houston - WP: S. Feldman 2
Colorado - WP: T. Matzek 2 FINAL
Arizona - LP: V. Nuno 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wada 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 13
Los Angeles - LP: J. Wright 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer 2
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy 3
Oakland - LP: J. Samardzija 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: Y. Herrera 2
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: R. Elias 1
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 6:00 PM
SMU 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
FC Dallas 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Portland 3 FINAL
Vancouver FC 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 3:00 PM
Chicago 70 FINAL
Indiana 77
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question