On Monday night, Major League Baseball held its annual Rule 4 draft, their annual amateur players draft. The Twins, and their fans, had to wait twenty picks before the Twins made their first-round selection. Commissioner Bud Selig announced that with the 21st overall pick in the first round of the 2010 draft, the Minnesota Twins selected Alex Wimmers, a right-handed pitcher from The Ohio State University.
Wimmers certainly fits the Twins mold for pitchers. He is not a flame-thrower. In fact, his fastball tends to be quite average and sits between 89 and 92 mph. However, his fastball has plenty of movement and he has good and improving control. After walking 55 (and striking out 136) in 104.2 innings in 2009, he walked just 23 batters (and struck out 86) in 73 innings in 2010. His best pitch right now is his changeup which is already an above average pitch. He is working on a breaking ball.
Wimmers has been successful wherever he has played going back to his days at legendary baseball school, Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati. In two years as a pitcher for the school, he had a 1.20 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 105 innings. However, he was also a great hitter. He is the school’s all-time leader in career batting average as he hit .457 in his two seasons for the school.
During his freshman year at Ohio State, he pitched in 25 games out of the bullpen and led the team in strikeouts per nine innings (11.6). He moved into the rotation as a sophomore and went 9-2 with a 3.27 ERA. He was co-Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and named to several All-America teams. As a junior, he was the sole Big Ten Pitcher of the Year after going 9-0 with a 1.60 ERA this year.
There are some similarities between Wimmers and 2009 top pick Kyle Gibson beyond the fact that they were both right-handed pitchers drafted out of strong college programs. Both are quite athletic. Both have strong mixes of pitches. Both have great makeup while being very competitive. Both have very good command and know how to pitch. While Gibson’s big out pitch is his slider, Wimmers’ changeup is his biggest weapon.
Although it would appear that Gibson has a higher ceiling, both should move very quickly through the minor league system and to the big leagues.
Between Tuesday and Wednesday, the Twins will draft another 49 players. Following the draft, they will likely sign between 20 and 25 of those players and assign them to the GCL Twins, Elizabethton Twins, or possibly a player or two could be sent to Beloit.
DRAFT DAY MEMORIES
I thought it would be fun to go back in time and ask some previous Twins first-round picks for some of their memories and thoughts on the day they were drafted.
2009 top pick Kyle Gibson recalls his draft day, a year ago, saying it “was a whirlwind of emotions for myself and my family. The main reason was that we really did not know what was going to happen. I could have gone in the top 5 or not been picked at all. So it was a stressful time, but it was also one of the most fun experiences of my life.”
In 2008, the Twins had three of the first 31 picks in the draft. With their second pick, 27th overall, they selected Carlos Gutierrez out of the University of Miami. Gutierrez remembers that the Miami Hurricanes “were having a pretty good year and had a lot of great players come out of that team. On draft day, I was more excited than anything.”
A supplemental first round draft choice in 2004 out of Central Florida, Matt Fox “was excited, but I knew how unpredictable the draft was after slipping to round 6 out of high school.”
So where were these players while the draft was taking place, and how did they find out they had been drafted? Even among first-round picks the answer to this question was quite different.
Fox recalls that he “was at my brother’s house, with my mom and dad, and the internet broadcast cut off in the first round, so I never heard my name called!” So he had to wait “until my agent called and congratulated me, and we all celebrated with each other. It was a great feeling knowing all my work paid off!”
Gutierrez “had a few guys on the team over to my house to watch the draft. We had a couple of guys on the team go before me, Yonder (Alonso) and Jemile (Weeks), and a few guys after me as well. So there was a lot to celebrate that day.”
He added, “My agent called me a couple picks before number 27, so I knew something was up. Then right before my name was called on TV he said ‘congrats’ and hung up the phone. Needless to say, everyone in the house started screaming. “
It was quite the celebration at the Gibson residence. “We had about 100 people over at the house (family and friends) and we had a big tent outside in our yard with a TV and MLB Network going! It was a huge rush of excitement in the crowd once my name was announced, and it was just a feeling of complete joy!”
What were their thoughts when they were selected by the Minnesota Twins?
Gutierrez said he never tried to guess where he would be selected, but “I did know that the Twins liked me.”
Matt Fox said, “When the Twins picked me, I was rather surprised due to the fact that I didn’t talk to them much. Besides that, I was excited. My agent had good things to say about them, and I was ready to sign and work my way up the system.
Gibson was projected to be picked in the top ten picks, so what went through his mind as the draft headed into the late teens and he still wasn’t selected? “My thoughts didn’t change too much. I think we were just deciding when we were going to have to make a deal with a team just so I was drafted, but thankfully it didn’t come to that.”
What kept Gibson so calm during it all? According to the right-hander, “For me, I think I was able to remain somewhat calm because I know that God had a plan for what was going to happen and it was always going to work out for the best, and it did.”
And when the Twins took him? “I was thinking, Wow, I really don’t remember talking to the Twins a whole lot, and I don’t really know much about them. But I was very excited the more and more I heard about the organization!”
Draft day is a day that all draft picks, whether taken in the first round or the 50th round will remember. As Carlos Gutierrez told me, “It is a day I will never forget.”
If you are looking for something to do this coming weekend, consider a road trip to Beloit, Wisconsin to see the Beloit Snappers play a game or three. Travis Aune (Travis Twins Talk) and I are headed there on Friday and will watch a couple of games. One of the games, we hope to be in box seats. The other game, we will be partaking in the $25 all-you-can eat section which includes the game ticket. It would be a lot of fun if people came down and said hi. Beloit is approximately 5 ½ hours from the Twin Cities. It is right on the Illinois border, on Highway 90. I know there are many Twins fans in the southeast part of the state too, so from there the drive could be even closer. If you’re interested, head to the team’s website (www.snappersbaseball.com) and call them and order some tickets. If you do, tell them that Seth and Travis sent you!
Speaking of, tonight at 10:00, Seth and Travis will be hosting this week’s episode of Twins Minor League Weekly. It will be a slightly extended podcast as we will talk about all four full season affiliates as well as talk about the team’s 2010 draft, possibly including some interviews.
MINOR LEAGUE NOTES
· The Twins weren’t the only team with the night off on Monday. The New Britain Rockcats and the Beloit Snappers also did not play.
· Glen Perkins, former 1st round pick in 2004, recorded his first win of the season. He gave up three runs on six hits in five innings. Tim Lahey threw two scoreless innings in relief in Game 1 of a double header. The Red Wings won that game 15-3 and several hitters contributed mightily. Brian Dinkelman and Dustin Martin were each 3-4 with a triple. Jacque Jones was 3-4 with a double. Jason Repko was 2-3 with two walks and his fifth home run. Jose Morales was 2-4 with a double and three RBI.
· In the second game, another 2004 first round pick, Trevor Plouffe hit his sixth home run of the year. It was the Red Wings lone hit in a 6-2 loss. Matt Fox started and gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk in three innings. Brad Hennessey gave up three runs on six hits in two innings. Pat Neshek made his 2010 Red Wings debut and gave up just one hit in two scoreless innings.
· The Ft. Myers Miracle beat Lakeland 5-1. Dan Osterbrock threw seven shutout innings, allowing four hits and no walks. Andrei Lobanov gave up a run in his inning. Tony Davis threw a scoreless ninth. Jonathan Goncalves went 3-4. Joe Benson was 2-2 with a double. Allan de San Miguel hit a home run. Chris Parmelee (2006 1st round pick) went 1-3 with a walk and a double.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
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