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 lefthander Andre Martinez from Archbishop McCarthy High in Southwest Ranches, Fla, He's the seventh pitcher selected by the Twins in this draft.
We're at the point in the draft where high school players might opt to go to college instead of signing with teams. Clubs used to have the flexibility to buy prospects out of their college commitments. With the new system in place, teams won't risk being fined for going over their draft budget. We'll see if that comes into play with Martinez, who has committed to Florida State.
Martinez was part of a loaded Archbishop McCarthy team that won three state championships. He did his part, going 36-6 in his prep career (including a win in the state title game this year), and the Florida State signee had some helium late. He's a 6-foot lefty with makeup, an above-average curveball, feel for a changeup and a fastball that is fairly true from his high arm slot but that was scraping the low 90s late in the season. Mostly, Martinez pitches in the mid-to-upper 80s. Scouts like his deception and downhill plane on the fastball, which hitters don't square up despite often pedestrian velocity.
I heard a couple weeks ago was that if the Twins took Byron Buxton with the second overall pick, they would load up on pitching after that. Things have played out that way.
The Twins have selected righthander J.T. Chargois out of Rice University with the 72nd overall pick. Baseball America has him listed as the 77th overall prospect in the draft. He also played first base for the Owls but is projected as a reliever. His fastball is around 95 miles an hour, and he has a sharp curveball. His command needs a little work, apparently.
Here's BA's take:
In his first two seasons at Rice, Chargois pitched a total of 34 innings and saw most of his action at first base, where he became a regular as a sophomore. The Cape Cod League's Brewster Whitecaps recruited him primarily as a hitter but wound up needing him on the mound and he blossomed as a closer, saving seven games and allowing one earned run in 17 appearances. Chargois is serving the Owls in both roles this spring but will give up hitting as a pro. His fastball usually operates from 93-95 mph and reaches 98 with some armside run and sink, though it dips to 90-92 when he works on consecutive days. His hard curveball creeps into the low 80s and grades as a plus pitch at times. Despite demonstrating some feel for a changeup in bullpen sessions, the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder profiles strictly as a reliever. Scouts don't like his arm action or the effort in his delivery, which limits him to average command and fringy control. He should develop more consistency once he focuses on pitching, and a team looking for a fast-track reliever could consider him in the sandwich round.
After taking Buxton, the Twins' next four picks have been pitchers with power arms.
Cleveland just took Mitch Brown from Rochester Century with the 79th overall pick.
Here's video of first-round pick Byron Buxton.
Here's an over-the-top production of Jose Berrios' workout.
Here's something about Luke Bard.
Local fans are waiting to see where Rochester Century pitcher Mitch Brown winds up. The Twins have the third pick in the second round. Will they go for him? How many pitchers will the Twins take today?
Also, righthander Kyle Gibson climbs on a mound today and throws from 60 feet for the first time in his comeback from Tommy John surgery. The plan is for him to pitch in extended spring training games in a month or so to get the feel for pitching back. By early August, he'll be throwing in minor league games and finish the year out there.
The Twins selected Georgia Tech righthander Luke Bard with the 42nd pick of the night - a compensation pick for losing Jason Kubel to free agency.
Here's what Baseball America had to say about him:
Bard's older brother Daniel attended North Carolina and was a 2006 first-round pick prior to reaching the major leagues with the Red Sox. Boston also drafted Luke out of high school, in the 16th round in 2009, but he didn't sign and attended Georgia Tech. Like his older brother, Bard has excellent arm strength and an iffy breaking ball. He's not as explosive as his brother but has plenty of power in his fastball, at times sitting 93-95 mph. He also flashed a power breaking ball with depth and late bite. Injuries and ineffective freshmen led Georgia Tech to give Bard a couple of starts, and he was effective while sticking to two pitches. He left a start against Duke on March 31 after 4 1/3 innings, however, and has not pitched since then. Doctors since diagnosed a torn lat muscle, and Bard isn't expected to return this season. At his best, he had a classic college reliever profile and big league bloodlines, so his injury probably will not be a long-term concern.
That's it for the first day of the draft. Rochester Century pitcher Mitch Brown is still on the board, and the Twins have.the third pick tomorrow.
UPDATE: Scouting director Deron Johnson said Bard throws 92-96 and will be tried out as a starter. The Twins feel Bard has three good pitches. Funny who Georgia Tech didn't view him as a starter.
I like what I've read so far about the pitchers they selected. Both have a little velo (Berrios could pick up a couple MPH) and look to be more than command and control pitchers. But we won't know for awhile.
UPDATE: Johnson added that both Berrios and Bard should be considered power pitchers.
I will try to pump out updates tomorrow as fast as I can.....
The Twins have selected righthander Jose Berrios with their first of two compensation round picks.
Here's Baseball America's write-up on him: He's listed as Jose Orlando Berrios but he's to be called Jose. The Twins have one more pick in this round.
In the history of the draft, only two pitchers from Puerto Rico have been drafted in the top two rounds--Jorge Lopez, who went in the second round to the Brewers last year and Luis Atilano, a Braves supplemental first-round pick from 2003. This year, there may be two more on that list and Berrios will likely be the first off the board. Berrios worked with a conditioning coach this fall and spring and added 20-25 pounds to his frame since the summer and now has a muscular, athletic 6-foot-1, 180-pound physique. The added muscle has allowed him to smooth things out and has boosted his fastball velocity. His fastball now sits in the 93-95 mph range and some scouts have seen him touch 98. He throws his fastball down in the zone, mixes in a sharp, 80-81 mph slider and shows the makings of a solid changeup with fading action. Berrios is getting buzz as high as the back of the first round, and it's unlikely he'll wind up honoring his commitment to Miami Dade JC.
Byron Buxton, an outfielder with loads of tools, has been selected by the Twins with the second overall pick of the first-year player draft. It's the highest pick the Twins have had since they selected Joe Mauer with the first overall pick in 2000.
Buxton is an elite athlete with freakish speed and an equally freakish arm. According to a recent Sports Illustrated story, he can throw a football 82 yards in the air, throw a fastball 99 miles an hour and has been timed at 3.89 seconds running to first, tying Bo Jackson for the fastest ever for right-handed hitting prospect.
He took the mound last Thursday in the championship game of the Georgia 2-A state championship series and struck out 18 batters over seven innings. Three of the four runs scored off of him came in the final inning. But his school, Appling County High, won the title.
He batted .513 with 17 doubles, 35 RBI and 38 stolen bases for Appling County. He hit just two homers, which has led to some concerns about his ability to hit for power.
There also have been concerns about the level of talent he's faced in high school. Ultimately, his skills were too good to pass up. The Twins' stated goal for this draft is to hit a home run with their pick, and Buxton is considered to have the most potential of any prospects in the draft. He's been compared to several multi-tooled players, from Eric Davis to Matt Kemp to a blend of the Upton brothers.
The Twins have two picks in the supplemental round, which is to come later tonight. Check back here later for updates.
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