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.

Twins thoughts: 2012 draft, a rising catching prospect, Doumit and La Velle

Posted by: Phil Miller under Farm System, Twins prospects Updated: November 27, 2011 - 3:23 PM

Here’s a few Twins nuggets to chew on as you wrap up your holiday weekend:

* DRAFT DOODLES: Twins insiders believe baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement will make it easier for them to sign the No. 2 pick in next June’s draft. It should at least streamline the process. Baseball already has set the slot bonus for that pick at $6.2 million.

*** The slot for the No. 1 pick is $7.2 million, and the slot for the No. 3 pick is $5.2 million. Teams don’t have to spend that much, but that’s the amount that will factor into their all-important signing bonus pool for the first 10 rounds. Any team that outspends their signing bonus pool by more than 5 percent, not only get taxed 75 percent on the overage but also loses a first-round draft pick.

Few teams would want to risk losing a future first rounder while they’re negotiating with another one, especially the Twins. So they can pick the player they want, offer $6.2 million and basically say, “Take it or leave it.”

That holds whether they pick a college junior, such as Arizona State shortstop Devin Marrero, or a high school senior such as Lucas Giolito (a 6-6 RHP from Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles) or Walker Weickel (a 6-6 RHP from Olympia High School in Orlando).

In the past, Marrero could have threatened to return to ASU for his senior year. But what’s the advantage of doing that this time? The best he could do is return for one more year and come back as the No. 1 overall pick, and earn about $1 million more. But he also could lose millions by rolling the dice and getting drafted a few slots lower next time.

If Giolito or Weickel would rather go to college, that’s fine. But in three years, even with the bonuses set to increase for inflation, how much more money are they likely to command?

* ANCIENT HISTORY: This year, the Mariners took University of Virginia lefthander Danny Hultzen with the No. 2 pick and wound up paying $8.5 million. He got a major league deal with a $6.35 million signing bonus.

Teams no longer can offer draft picks major league deals. The Twins never did that anyway, even when they picked Joe Mauer with the first overall pick in 2001.

* CATCHING DEPTH: Twins infield prospect Brian Dozier, 24, had a solid showing in the Arizona Fall League, batting .296/.358/.454 in 26 games, and center field prospect Aaron Hicks, 22, wasn’t too shabby either, batting .294/.400/.559 in 30 games. But none did more to raise their stock than Chris Herrmann, 24. Besides batting .380/.456/.620 in 15 games, Herrmann threw out six of 18 opposing base stealers. Herrmann converted to catcher from the outfield just two seasons ago and already he is the best catching prospect in the Twins’ system.

No Twins were named to Baseball America’s Top 10 prospect list from the Arizona Fall League (which was headed by Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Danny Hultzen), but Herrmann received mention, including this blurb:

This lefthanded-hitting catcher did as much as any prospect to help his standing in the industry with his AFL performance. Herrmann’s name came up in every single discussion with scouts covering the league. ... Herrmann also played infield in high school and at the University of Miami, so he could eventually become a valuable utility player at the big league level if he’s not an everyday catcher. He’s a steady player with a good approach at the plate and decent gap-to-gap power.

* MANAGER CHOICES: Before hiring Gene Glynn as their Class AAA Rochester manager, the Twins spoke to recently dismissed Cubs manager Mike Quade, who was a top minor-league manager before getting his first big league chance. Quade wasn’t interested, as he’ll still be drawing a paycheck from the Cubs for 2012. The Twins also considered former Padres coach Randy Ready, former Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson and former White Sox coach Jeff Cox, but ultimately they decided Glynn was the best fit.

* FORTUNATE BREAK?: After breaking his left ankle on a home-plate collision with Carlos Pena last May, Ryan Doumit returned from the DL and batted .328 (41-for-125) through season’s end. He finished the season healthy for the Pirates, but when they declined his $7.25 million option for next year, the Twins signed him to a one-year, $3 million deal.

“I’m not sure we’d have this opportunity [had Doumit not been injured last year],” Twins GM Terry Ryan said. “He didn’t get as many starts or at-bats as he would like, but with the ones he did get, he hit pretty well."

* WRITER AWARD: Congratulations to my esteemed colleague, La Velle E. Neal III, for winning the Sam Lacy Award (Baseball Writer of the Year) from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. La Velle will be honored at the museum’s annual banquet in Kansas City on Jan. 28. We’ll be sure to toast him and roast him two nights earlier at the annual Diamond Awards banquet in Minneapolis.

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