In the summer of 2004, the Twins had won back-to-back division titles and were on their way to a third straight. Despite their success, they were gifted with an opportunity to reload for an extended run that June, when -- thanks to a mass exodus of high-profile free agents the previous winter -- they held five selections in the first round of the draft.
The players taken with those picks were shortstop Trevor Plouffe and pitchers Glen Perkins, Kyle Waldrop, Matt Fox and Jay Rainville. Seven years later, only Perkins has proven himself as an impact player in the majors, and not until he was 28 years old.
It wasn't necessarily a disastrous group; I like Plouffe's chances of developing into a solid regular next year and Waldrop might get some tread. Still, to have received so little in the way of major-league contributions from five first-round picks up to this point has to be viewed as a disappointment. The man who oversaw that draft, Terry Ryan, will hope for better results when the club is placed in a similarly advantageous situation next June.
By virtue of losing more games than all but one team in 2011, the Twins will pick second in next year's draft. For reference, the second pick in that '04 draft was some guy named Justin Verlander.
Signability has tended to be an issue with the top-tier prospects reeled in at the front of the draft, but as Joe Christensen points out, the new CBA rules will do much to negate this issue. Thanks to a newly imposed cap on slot money, a player taken this high has little to gain by going unsigned and waiting a year.
That's not the only way the restructured CBA benefits the Twins. Matt Capps became a modified Type B free agent, meaning that arbitration need not be offered for a compensation pick to be issued should he land elsewhere. Michael Cuddyer remains a Type A free agent, so he would yield two high picks by signing with another team. But under the new rules, that team would not have to forfeit a pick. This increases the Twins' chances of landing an extra first-rounder, since those clubs with non-protected selections will now be more open to pursuing Cuddyer.
Throw in Jason Kubel, who like Capps would yield a supplemental pick as a Type B, and the Twins could potentially receive four additional picks in the first two rounds of next June's draft, on top of their No. 2 selection.
That's an even better situation than the one they fell into back in 2004. But, unlike that year, they're not currently in the middle of a successful run, so the stakes will be higher. With a farm system badly in need of reinforcements, the Twins will really need to hit a couple home runs.