ON THE TWINS’ RADAR
The Twins aren’t showing their cards when it comes to the No. 1 pick, but if they don’t take Hunter Greene, here is where they could be headed:
Brendan McKay, lefthanded pitcher and first baseman, Louisville: Throws in the low 90s with a good mix of pitches. McKay is considered a safe pick, but as what? He’s 10-3 with a 2.34 ERA on the mound and has held opponents to a .188 batting average. He’s batting .343 with 17 home runs and 56 RBI. The growing sentiment is that McKay is better suited to hitting. He is from Darlington, Pa., about an hour away from the hometown of last year’s top Twins pick, Alex Kirilloff.
Kyle Wright, righthanded pitcher, Vanderbilt: A 6-4, 220-pound power pitcher who hits 96 mph. The son of a high school baseball coach and a NASA engineer in Huntsville, Ala., Wright struggled at the start of this season but had 113 strikeouts in 96⅔ innings entering the NCAA super regionals. He threw his sinking fastball for strikes more as the season progressed and incorporated his breaking ball better. “Kyle Wright is the furthest along of the college starting pitchers,” said MLB Network analyst Dan O’Dowd. “I don’t think he’s going to need a ton of development time.”
MacKenzie Gore, lefthanded pitcher, Whiteville (N.C.) High School: Considered to be fairly polished as a prep pitcher. Gore’s fastball sits from 89-93 mph but has hit 96. He is 6-2, 180 pounds and his breaking pitches are pretty solid. He has a curveball that breaks down and in on righthanded hitters and a slider that sometimes moves like a cut fastball. Baseball America compared him to “Cole Hamels with a hint of Scott Kazmir.” He finished the year with a 0.19 ERA with 158 strikeouts in 74⅓ innings.
Royce Lewis, shortstop-outfielder, JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.: Some Twins officials feel that Lewis has proved that he’s a shortstop, but reports have evaluators split on Lewis’ ability to handle the position as he develops and fills out. He’s a very good athlete with a quick bat and the ability to hit for power. Twins officials have spoken highly about Lewis throughout the draft process, and he’s firmly in the discussion for the No. 1 pick. O’Dowd compares him to Houston leadoff man George Springer. “I would take him off shortstop,” O’Dowd said. “I’m not saying I wouldn’t let him play short. I think he profiles in center [field].”
A WILD CARD
Pavin Smith, first baseman, Virginia: He batted .342 with 13 home runs and 77 RBI this season. He walked 38 times and struck out 12 times. That’s right, more home runs than strikeouts. He uses the whole field, and teams are encouraged that he’s showing power while making contact. The question the Twins have to ask themselves is if it’s worth using the first overall pick on a first baseman. “Pavin Smith is an elite college bat,” O’Dowd said. “Todd Helton, a little bit of John Olerud.”