The Twins then selected Byron Buxton with the second pick, and at $6 million, made him the highest-paid player in the draft. “Two different approaches,” Manuel said. “It will be interesting to see which pays off in the long run.”
Similarly, several college seniors were drafted by teams that knew they could make low offers to players with little leverage, and spend the money elsewhere. Toronto drafted Stetson righty Tucker Donahue in the fourth round -- after he agreed to sign for a $5,000 pittance.
There may be less maneuvering this year, Manuel and Radcliff predicted, because the overall quality of the draft pool is believed to be down this year; Florida in particular has far fewer top prospects than usual. "I'm not sure who you would spend the money on later," Radcliff said. "We expect our board to be picked clean pretty fast."
Next year might be a more serious test of the new system, Manuel predicted, because a pair of North Carolina State players -- lefty Carlos Rodon and shortstop Trea Turner -- may rise to "superstar" status.
Ryan said the Twins would consider a spread-it-around approach, but he prefers to take the best player available in the first round. “That would be almost anybody’s philosophy in this organization. You cannot blow the first pick,” Ryan said. “To set up the future of your franchise, you [have to] get the right guy.”
Just as they did 12 years ago. Would Mauer still be the pick if Prior or Teixeira had been available in their price range in 2001? “Absolutely,” Ryan said. “He’s the face of the franchise.”