The WNBA holds its draft on Friday, the NFL will select rookie players next week, and Major League Baseball plans to pick its incoming class of amateurs … eh, sometime in June. Or July. Probably.
Yes, in a year in which hardly any college or high school games were played, a spring that included virtually no talent showcases for the top players, a season in which even the date of the draft or the number of rounds remains unknown halfway through April — well, you can imagine how difficult the process of projecting who-takes-whom must be.
Even the teams themselves, as La Velle E. Neal III pointed out recently about the Twins’ draft preparations, have only a vague idea of who they want and who might available. “Every team is going to have some blind spots,” Twins scouting director Sean Johnson told the Star Tribune, “players they just haven’t seen enough of yet.”
Give Baseball America credit for courage, then. The magazine, which specializes in amateur and minor-league baseball, published a mock draft of the first round on Wednesday from information gathered from MLB scouts and executives. It “steers heavily into the range of speculation and educated guesses more than hard-and-fast information,” the magazine admitted. That’s especially true for a team choosing late in the draft like the Twins, who own the 27th pick.
Still, BA has a strong track record of anticipating picks, so it’s interesting to note their early projection for the Twins: Ohio State catcher Dillon Dingler, a junior from North Canton, Ohio. Dingler (pictured) batted .340/.404/.760 in 13 games before the season was wiped out by the coronavirus, and led the Buckeyes or tied for the team lead in hits (17), doubles (4), triples (1), home runs (5) and RBIs (14). Last year, Dingler went 6-for-9 against Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament and was named to the All-Big Ten second team.
So is Dingler a future Twins draftee? Well, Minnesota didn’t draft a catcher until the 29th round last year, so it’s always good to replenish such an important position. And Dingler’s “big league arm strength” — he threw out 21 of 42 would-be base-stealers during his college career — makes him stand out. But even BA analysts J.J. Cooper and Carlos Collazo admit that the projection is more about when Dingler might be drafted, not by whom.
“I’m not sure if the Twins specifically are the team to take him, but anywhere around here through pick No. 40 makes sense to me,” Collazo wrote. (It’s worth noting that last year’s first-round pick, infielder Keoni Cavaco, also jetted up team’s boards in the last few weeks before the draft).
One other national mock draft was published Wednesday, by CBS Sports writer Mike Axisa, who paired the Twins with high school shortstop Ed Howard, whom BA projected to go 29th. Both sites mention Howard, a Chicago native, as the best of a weak class of high school shortstops, but Axias cites his potential to be “a player who does everything well but nothing exceptionally.”
The Twins have a draft pool of $4,493,400 to spend on the first five rounds, and their first-round pick has a “slot value” of $2.57 million, though due to the pandemic, the player will receive only $100,000 of his bonus this year, with half of the remainder paid on July 1, 2021 and July 1, 2022.
The draft was originally scheduled for June 10 and could still be held that day, or pushed back to as late as July 20. MLB has not yet decided how many rounds it will last, but has the right to cut it to just five, or 35 fewer than the standard 40-round draft.
photo of Dillon Dingler courtesy Ohio State athletic department