La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Draft day: Who will the Twins select?

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: June 5, 2014 - 5:29 PM

What's up! Phil Miller is covering the Twins-Brewers game tonight but I'm handling draft coverage. The MLB draft begins at 6 p.m., and the Twins have the No. 5 overall pick. Indications are that Florida prep shortstop Nick Gordon will be the Twins pick, but that depends on how things shake out in front of them.

It looks like the top three pitchers - Brady Aiken, Carlos Rodon and Tyler Kolek - should be gone by then. To me, the Cubs are the wild card. They have been linked to outfielder Michael Comfort and catcher Kyle Schwarber (who I really like) but Theo Epstein and his minions could pull anything off when it's their turn to draft.

Everything I've read today suggests that Gordon to the Twins is a near lock.

UPDATE: One report has the Twins considering Kolek if he is available. IF.

Here's what ESPN's Keith Law wrote about Gordon last month:


ORLANDO, Fla. -- Olympia HS shortstop Nick Gordon is no secret within the industry, between his big league father (you know him as "Flash"), brother Dee of the Dodgers, and former teammates Walker Weickel and Jesse Winker, but this year he has come into his own as a legitimate top-half-of-the-first-round prospect, and in my opinion the best middle infielder in the draft class, worthy of a top-10 pick.

Gordon's fastball has been in the low 90s off the mound, so we already know he has the arm to play anywhere on the field, but his footwork and hands have improved every year I've seen him -- my first look was in March 2012 while scouting Weickel and Winker -- and there's no doubt at all that he can stay at short.{C} He's quite a bit stronger this year, adding 10-plus pounds of muscle, so he's better able to turn on good fastballs and has been showing more pop.

The only knock on Gordon that I can see is that the left-handed hitter loads his hands way too deep, unnecessarily so as it just creates length from his loading position to contact without adding power. He ends up with a golf swing at anything down and will end up flying out to left on pitches he should be able to line to the outfield gap. If he keeps his hands near his left shoulder, he'll be able to make contact at high rates even as the quality of stuff he's facing improves. His bat speed is fine, and I think he's a high-average, 10-12 homer guy at his peak, with well-above-average defense at shortstop -- the kind of prospect who would go high in any draft, but especially so in a draft class light on middle infielders like this year's.

 

We'll see how this plays out. The draft is expected to begin at 6:07 p.m., with the Twins pick scheduled for 6:31. Their second pick is scheduled for 9:35.

Saw one comment that the Twins should draft a pitcher who can get to the majors quickly, suggesting that they are fine at short. I disagree somewhat. Aaron Nola is expected to be a fast mover, but he's projected to be, what, a mid-rotation starter? I think you with who you think is going to be the best player at that spot. I would, in most cases, take upside instead of drafting for need on the major league level. The Twins have tried that in the past (Slowey, Baker, Wimmers, Bashore) with less than great results. One guy who worked out, Matt Garza, was traded.

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