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.

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.

Final(10)2345678910RHE
Minnesota «00201000611140
Kansas City0011010005121
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:A.Swarzak(3-1) L:B.Chen(2-4)
HR: MIN- None KAN- A.Gordon (17)

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Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: D. Axelrod 7
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 3
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 4
Tampa Bay - LP: K. Yates 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 5
Atlanta - WP: M. Minor 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 1
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Danks 2
Minnesota - WP: A. Swarzak 11 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: B. Chen 5
Texas - LP: R. Mendez 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 4
Oakland - LP: R. Cook 3 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: F. Salas 4
Atlanta 24 FINAL
Jacksonville 14
Detroit 23 FINAL
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 35
Kansas City 14 FINAL
Green Bay 34
NY Jets 7 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
St. Louis 13 FINAL
Miami 14
Carolina 10 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
New England 13 FINAL
NY Giants 16
Washington 24 FINAL
Tampa Bay 10
Baltimore 22 FINAL
New Orleans 13
Chicago 13 FINAL
Cleveland 33
Denver 27 FINAL
Dallas 3
Minnesota 19 FINAL
Tennessee 3
San Francisco 40 FINAL
Houston 13
Arizona 9 FINAL
San Diego 12
Seattle 31 FINAL
Oakland 41
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
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