It’s fair to say that the new Twins front office of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine didn’t make a big public splash in the offseason and had been mostly quiet during the start of the regular season. But with the selection of high school shortstop Royce Lewis with the No. 1 overall pick, ahead of high school standout Hunter Greene, they finally made their first big move.
Still, Falvey said that while fans may have thought the front office was quiet, the Twins spent a lot of time and hard work changing the way the club ran behind the scenes from the top of the organization to the bottom. And that effort played out in the draft.
“One of the things we went into, we made some changes on the field and certainly focused on changing the process of how we go about focusing on our defensive work or what we were doing in spring training from a day-to-day plan standpoint,” Falvey said. “But more importantly I think we changed the process of the way we went about making decisions from the draft to how we’re doing things in player development to free-agent selection and otherwise.
“We’ve added in some systems to help us better identify who players are that might exceed expectations, and we’ve found ways to change a lot of the processes that underpin each and every day of our operation.”
Falvey said the remaining members of the organization handled the transition well.
“One of the things I was most impressed to see is we have a lot of scouts who have been in this organization a long time, and they’re incredible scouts, great talent evaluators,” he said. “We layered on top of that a process that allowed us to more seamlessly objectively integrate that information with the scouting opinion. The first time you do it with a new staff and new leadership in place can be challenging.
“I was very proud of how well our guys integrated with the new systems we have some of the traditional scouting information and methods.”
Does he think that has helped communication?
“I do, I certainly do. But … that’s probably unfair for me to assess,” he said. “I feel like what we’ve been able to do is break down barriers between departments. So from player development to scouting to major league operations, there’s a free flow of ideas, a lot of trust built, and that’s essential to build a good organization.”
Falvey said that for the most part the team has no need to cut staff or departments. In fact, he said, the team is adding members.
“Mostly focused on additions in the early going here,” he said. “We’ve expanded some of our baseball operations department, added some staff members in our research and development areas, as well as trying to find other people in the medical or strength and conditioning space, those are areas we’ve tried to supplement.
“In addition to that we’ve made some changes in the scouting department in Sean Johnson taking over in an internal promotion and reconfiguring some of our talent evaluators. We felt we were able to get deeper in the draft.”
There has been a lot of talk about how the Twins should handle free agency before the trade deadline July 31. While the Twins are just 1½ games out of first place, they do have some very good trade pieces.
So what does Falvey expect from the deadline?
“I think what has happened over the last few years, at least since the advent of the second wild-card position, is that a lot of teams have stayed in it [contention] a lot later,” Falvey said. “You don’t see a lot of trade activity this early on in the summer, whereas in past years prior to that second wild card, you may. I think there’s a lot of baseball to be played before we get to the late portion of July.
“The reality is every team will evaluate where they stand when they get to the middle of that month. I’m not sure I could peg what it will look like at this stage, but I’m sure there will be a lot of active conversations in the next month or so.”
Praise for Molitor
While Falvey wasn’t sure what kind of squad he would see in his first year overseeing the Twins, one person who has really proven to be a good co-worker is manager Paul Molitor, who is in the final year of his contract.
Falvey was asked whether he thinks Molitor will get an extension.
“Paul and I have worked really closely together, and that’s something we’ll address at the end of the season, not something we’re going to talk about in-season,” he said. “I know Paul and I have had a great partnership, so far.”
Does he like what he’s seen from Molitor?
“He has done a great job. I think he’s a guy that cares very deeply about the Twins organization and its people, and I know every day when we work together with the team here I’m happy to work alongside him,” Falvey said.
So, is Falvey happy so far that he took on this challenge?
“You bet,” he said. “This has been great, a great place to live, great people, great fans and a great organization. I’m very thankful.”
• Gophers head football coach P.J. Fleck reported that the players are running their own practices now that they are in their strength and conditioning program Monday through Friday. “We do have some meetings with them here or there, that we’re allowed to have a few hours over the course of the summer,” he said. “I like the players, when we get them in training camp, that they’re actually excited to see us again. If they’re seeing you in training camp and they’re like, ‘Oh no,’ then you have a problem. We don’t want to burn out our kids.”
• Twins 2016 first‑round pick Alex Kirilloff is rehabbing from Tommy John elbow surgery. Derek Falvey, Twins chief baseball officer, said that a slight benefit for position players in recovering from Tommy John surgery is that they can start swinging a bat while rehabbing. “The hitter gets a little bit of a jump start on when he can start hitting,” Falvey said. “We expect Alex to be swinging the bat later this summer and hopefully have a good, strong Instructional League that sets him up well for next year.”
• Two incoming Gophers track and field recruits were named the Gatorade Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year in their respective states. Dawson LaRance won it in Montana, and Hunter Lucas won it in North Dakota. Each is a distance runner.
• Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback on si.com had an article on Adrian Peterson adjusting to the New Orleans Saints, and Drew Brees had this to say: “He’s coming off an injury, 32-year-old running back, and typically that’s over the hill, but there’s an intensity there, a work ethic. And you watch him, and you’re like, ‘Wow, I don’t see how anybody tackles that guy.’ ... It’s still just such a surprise that it actually happened. We really signed Adrian Peterson?”
• NBADraft.net already has its 2018 mock draft up, and at No. 9 is Gary Trent Jr., the Apple Valley product who is headed to Duke. Also in that mock draft is J.P. Macura, who will be a junior at Xavier. He is projected as a second-rounder.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 8:40 a.m., Friday at 2 p.m. and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. E-mail: email@example.com