Twins load up with power arms in MLB draft

Out of 18 picks thus far by the organization, 13 have been pitchers -- and most of them light up the radar gun with their fastballs.

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Mason Melotakis

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Mason Melotakis settled in for a steak dinner with his parents Tuesday near his home in Houston. But he had to purchase a Twins cap first.

Earlier in the day, Melotakis turned on his television and saw he had been selected by the Twins with third pick in the second round of the Major League Baseball draft "and my family went ballistic."

Ballistic? The Twins drafted Melotakis, a lefthander from Northwestern State, because of what his pitches do while in flight. His fastball has been clocked at 94 to 96 miles per hour to go with a sharp curve.

"I've revved it up to 97, 98," he claims. "I just know more is coming. There's more in the tank."

He's an example of the Twins' efforts to add more hard throwers to their farm system. With extra picks in the early rounds -- and drafting second in most rounds this week -- the Twins had opportunities to address the lack of power on the mound.

"He's one we really targeted," said Deron Johnson, the Twins' scouting director. "Remember Terry Mulholland? Similar delivery."

Thirteen of the Twins' 18 picks so far in the draft have been pitchers. Through the 10th round, nine of 13 picks were pitchers, their highest percentage of pitching selections since 2004, when they used 11 of 14 picks on arms.

And several of them are considered power arms. Righthanders Jose Berrios and Luke Bard, both selected on Monday, have fastballs in the mid-90s. Fourth-round pick Jon Chargois, a righthander out of Rice, throws 95 mph with good movement. Their fourth-round pick, righthander Zach Jones of San Jose State, has hit 98 mph on the gun but averages 94 to 96 mph.

The Twins took Chargois' teammate, righthander Tyler Duffey, in the fifth round. He throws 88 to 92 mph and has touched 94, but had a higher strikeout rate than Chargois. Alex Muren, selected in the 12th round out of Cal State-Northridge, is raw but hit 97 mph last fall and pitched at 90 to 94 mph during the college season.

"We drafted more power arms probably than we ever have," Johnson said.

Some of the pitchers selected are relievers, but Johnson said the Twins plan to give Bard and Melotakis a chance to start. Melotakis says he has a feel for a changeup, which would give him a third pitch, but he hasn't had to use it much while closing.

"I feel fortunate," Melotakis said, "because I feel they are going to develop me into a great pitcher."

Other starters the Twins have drafted so far include Berrios; Andre Martinez, a prep lefthander taken in the sixth round out of Pembroke Pines, Fla.; eighth-round pick Christian Powell, a righthander from the College of Charleston; 10th-round pick D.J. Baxendale, a righthander from the University of Arkansas; 11th-round pick Taylor Rogers, a lefthander from the University of Kentucky; 13th-round pick Erich Knab, a prep righthander from Conway, South Carolina; and 15th-rounder Jarret Leverett, a lefthander from Georgia Southern.

"I'm happy with the arms we got," Johnson said.

The draft concludes tomorrow with rounds 16-40.

Draft notes

• The Twins drafted outfielder Adam Walker of Jacksonville University after he put on a power display during a workout at Target Field on Saturday. His father, who goes by the same name, was a replacement player for the Vikings.

• Johnson said outfielder Byron Buxton, the second overall pick, will probably begin his pro career with the Twins' rookie team in the Gulf Coast League but move on to Elizabethton, Tenn., of the Appalachian League. Buxton has to sign first, of course.

  • DAY 2 TUESDAY, ROUNDS 2-15 TODAY, ROUNDS 16-40

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