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.

Posts about Vikings draft

Draft day three roundup: The Twins' first five picks

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: June 6, 2012 - 12:05 PM

Here's an update on Twins picks on Day 3.

16. Will Hurt, SS, Lexington (Kent.) Catholic

Read a little about Hurt here and here.

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.




Final day of draft about to start

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: June 6, 2012 - 11:08 AM

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.

Twins end Day 2 of the draft with 13 pitchers selected

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: June 5, 2012 - 7:17 PM

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.....

Twins select Lee Mazzilli's son in the ninth round.

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: June 5, 2012 - 4:18 PM

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 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.

The run on pitching continues. Twins take prep lefthander

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: June 5, 2012 - 2:22 PM

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.


Twins take another pitcher in the second round

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: June 5, 2012 - 11:49 AM

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.



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