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.
The Twins have selected righthander Ryan Pressly with the fourth overall pick in the Rule 5 draft.
Pressly, from the Red Sox organization, went 7-5 with a 5.38 ERA between Class A and Class AA last season. He's supposed to have a big arm, with a mid-90's fastball and power curve. He started and relieved last season.
Here's Pressly's bio.
Here's more stuff on him.
He must remain on the Twins' 25-man roster all season. The Rule 5 draft fee is $50,000. If the Twins don't keep him, he has to be offered back to the Red Sox for half the drafting fee.
In the Triple-A phase of the draft, the Twins selected third baseman Mark Sobolewski from the Blue Jays organization. Check him out here.
Joe Mauer still isn't ready to play after injuring his right quad on Sunday.
But Justin Morneau will get a chance to end his struggles against lefthanders.
UPDATE: I'm watching Mauer take batting practice right now. After spraying line drives at PNC Park, he's taking hsi time while running the bases. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Mauer is still available to pinch hit, but I'm starting to wonder if we won't see him in the lineup until the team gets to Cincinnati.
Mauer just blasted one into the bushes in center and another into the seats in right. And he's not limping when he's jogging around the bases.
Matt Capps threw in the bullpen today and is very close to being ready. Gardy said they would prefer to hold him out of a game one more day but game situations could dictate otherwise.
MORNEAU VS. LEFTIES
Gardy also expressed concern about Justin Morneau batting against left-handed pitchers. "I think he's defintely pressing a little bit," Gardenhire said "When he gets up there there's been a lot of talk about his numbers against lefthanders - outside this office. That always makes guys think about it a little more and try harder."
Gardy wants Morneau to relax, let the ball travel a little farther in and focus on making contact. Morneau has hit over ,250 in hsi career against lefties but has batting .094 against them this season.
The Twins have signed third round pick Luke Bard, brother of Boston's Josh Bard. Bard will head to Fort Myers to work out, but he has a slight shoulder issue from college that the Twins want him to work on before he joins a team. They knew about it before the draft and still wanted him,
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Ben Revere, RF
3. Josh Willingham, LF
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
6. Brian Dozier, SS
7. Jamey Carroll, 2B
8. Drew Butera, C
9. Francisco Liriano, LHP
1. Jose Tabata, LF
2. Josh Harrison, RF
3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
4. Casey McGehee, 1B
5. Neil Walker, 2B
6. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
7. Clint Barmes, SS
8. Michael McKenry, C
9. Erik Bedard, LHP
Here's an update on Twins picks on Day 3.
16. Will Hurt, SS, Lexington (Kent.) Catholic
17. Dalton Hicks, 1B, Central Florida
Good size. 6-5, 228.
From Baseball America:
Hicks took a medical redshirt in 2010 after an undiagnosed collapsed lung required two surgeries to repair. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder pitched and hit as a freshman but has focused on the bat since then, providing a reliable power bat in Central Florida's lineup. Scouts describe him as "lumbering" on defense, and he's too slow to move to the outfield, where his arm strength could be an asset. He's a first baseman/DH type with strength, plus raw power and some hittability whose overall package falls a bit shy compared to other big first basemen in the draft such as Ben Waldrip, Preston Tucker and Matt Snyder.
18. William LaMarche, RHP, Chabot CC
Good size. Member of the Tommy John club.
From Baseball America:
LaMarche played in high school with Stanford third baseman Stephen Piscotty and started out his college career at Long Beach State in 2010 but never pitched for the Dirtbags because he needed Tommy John surgery. A workout monster, LaMarche came back strong and has powerful thighs and a barrel chest as part of his 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame. Coming out of the bullpen, his fastball sits in the 94-96 mph range and he runs it up as high as 98, but he's still learning to harness his stuff. He's been used sparingly this year and doesn't have much in the way of secondary stuff. He's added a cutter this year, but he mostly tries to just blow hitters away with his gas. LaMarche has some funk to his delivery--he separates early, but has a really quick arm. With the delivery issues, below-average control and lack of secondary stuff, LaMarche is certainly a project and is committed to Louisiana State for next year if he doesn't sign.
19. Jonathan Murphy, OF, Jacksonville.
Brother of the Mets' Daniel Murphy.
Here's his college profile page
Here's a story about the family.
20. Zach Larson, OF, Lakewood Ranch High (FL.)
Ranked as the 84th best prospect out of a deep Florida class.
The final day of the draft is about to start.
Will update here when I can. There is no time between picks, so the selections come rapid fire style. I anticipate having to dig more for info on many of these picks because many won't be on the big board. So I expect to post picks here in clusters.
So keep checking back for updates.
Here's Baseball America's take from yesterday. The Twins did not follow this pattern. They only took one college senior all day. But they did take several players who were ranked lower on the BA board than where they were selected. It appears that teams were nervous about running out of money for the first ten rounds.
There is a bonus cap of $100,000 on any pick after the 10th round. Anything over that goes against a team's MLB-mandated cap for the first ten rounds. So say a team has a pool of $9 million for the first ten rounds and has spent $8.9 million. If they sign a 15th round pick for $100,000, it doesn't count against $9 million. If they sign that player for $250,000, that's $150,000 over the budget, and that gets applied to the budget for the first ten rounds.
It's tricky. It's strange. It's new. But that's how the league is trying to stop wild spending on the draft.
Day 2 of the draft is in the books! The first 15 rounds are complete, with rounds 16-40 scheduled for tomorrow.
The Twins just kept taking pitchers. Of the 18 selections they had today, 13 are pitchers. Here's a rundown of the final five picks, with Baseball America's takes.
11. Taylor Rogers, LHP, Kentucky
Rogers won't blow up any radar guns, but his pitchability made him a weekend starter for three years at Kentucky and helped him earn the win at the Cape Cod League all-star game last summer. At 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, Rogers is more skinny than projectable, so his stuff isn't likely to get much better. He'll touch 90-91 mph with his fastball early in games but usually settles in at 87-88 mph. His curveball and changeup are effective, and he compensates for his lack of a plus pitch with outstanding command of his offerings. He has sound mechanics and repeats them well, though at times he's around the strike zone too much.
12. Alex Muren, RHP, Cal-St. Northridge
Like his older brother Drew, Muren is a quality athlete who split time between hitting and pitching for Northridge in 2010 and '11, before focusing on pitching as a junior this year. Muren caught scouts' attention by running his fastball up to 96-97 mph in the fall, but he has pitched in the 90-94 range this spring. Despite his power arm, Muren hasn't missed many bats this spring, posting a 43-26 strikeout-walk mark through 84 innings. Scouts like his 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame and athleticism, but he lacks deception and pitches on a flat plane. His below-average slider/cutter sometimes show depth in the 80-83 mph range and can reach 85-87. However, he doesn't run the pitch in against righthanders, instead leaving it in a hitters' comfort zone over the plate. He lacks feel for a changeup, despite the Matadors' efforts to teach him a circle change. Muren's body and pure arm strength make him an intriguing sleeper, but one scout referred to him as "a block of clay." Given his lack of polish and underdeveloped secondary stuff, he profiles best as a reliever.
13. Erich Knab, RHP, Carolina Forest High, S.C.
A Spartanburg Methodist (S.C.) JC signee, Knab is considered signable, but he's a long-term project. He has a good frame at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, and arm strength with a low 90s fastball that touches 95 mph. However, he has a stiff delivery that he doesn't repeat well and poor command. His secondary stuff is a work-in-progress and he doesn't show much aptitude for pitching.
14. Jake Proctor, CF, Cincinnati
Proctor reminds scouts of former Louisville outfielder Josh Richmond, his former teammate at Oak Hills High in Cincinnati and a 12th-round pick of the Rangers in 2010. The two look alike and have similar builds and athleticism. Both also got hurt in their draft year, as Richmond had a hand injury and Proctor tore the meniscus in his left knee in late April. Arthroscopic surgery ended his season but won't prevent him from getting drafted. The 6-foot-2, 221-pounder's best tool is his plus-plus speed, though he could do a better job of using it. He has a lot of moving parts in his swing and doesn't control the strike zone, so he doesn't get on base or tap into his plus raw power as much as he should. He also doesn't take direct routes on flyballs in center field, though he does have a strong arm.
15. Jarret Leverett, LHP Georgia Southern
Couldn't find a lot about him right away. He struggled against Samford in the Southern Conference final last week. There are indications that his fastball is in the upper 80's. He was 4-2, 2.81 this season with 17 walks and 58 strikeouts in 51.1 innings.
Just got off the phone with third-round pick Mason Melotakis. who claimed he's touched 98 with his fastball. Stay tuned.....
The Twins have selected L.J. Mazzilli from UConn. He's the son of former major leaguer Lee Mazzilli. An interesting pick at this stage of the draft because of his hitting ability.
Here's what mlb.com wrote at the end of their report on him:
"Mazzilli's bat will most likely be too much for teams to pass on in the top five rounds of the Draft."
Well, teams did. So we'll have to see how this one turns out. Apparently, he's not a slick fielder at second but can be passable with work.
Here's what BA wrote about him:
The son of former major league player and manager Lee Mazzilli, L.J. has obvious bloodlines to go with his athleticism and offense. He has been a consistent hitter for the Huskies and was batting .325/.392/.557 with nine home runs in 212 at-bats this spring. He stands at a 6-foot-1, 190 pounds and has a good, balanced approach at the plate to go with a direct swing. He can hit to all fields and showed more pop this year, though he will have fringe-average power at best. He profiles best as an offensive-minded second baseman, if he can make the grade defensively. He had 17 errors in 51 games this season, but scouts say he could become passable with development. He tends to sit back on balls, which can cause hops to eat him up and force him to rush throws. His arm is average. He's an average runner and can swipe some bases, but it won't be a big part of his game.
|Vikings (10)||Twins news (1)|
|Bears (5)||Lions (2)|
|Packers (2)||Super Bowl (2)|
|Injury report (2)||Off the field (13)|
|On the road (15)||Rookies (1)|
|Roster moves (9)||The draft (35)|
|Ron Gardenhire (1)||Target Field (1)|
|Twins game coverage (1)||Adrian Peterson (1)|
|Brad Childress (1)||Brad Childress (1)|
|Twins postseason (1)||Twins prospects (62)|
|Twins Farm System (68)|