Now that the MLB amateur draft is over, with the Twins choosing 17 pitchers and 13 position players Wednesday, the process of signing them begins. The Twins are confident they’ll sign all nine players taken in the first 10 rounds, director of scouting Sean Johnson said, and roughly 33 of their 39 draftees overall.
But Seth Halvorsen, a Plymouth resident who plans to attend Missouri, isn’t one of them. “He’s probably a tough sign. We’ll have to come up with some money that we may or may not have later in the summer,” Johnson said of Halvorsen, a shortstop and righthanded pitcher at Heritage Christian Academy taken by the Twins in the 30th round.
The two-positions future is a likely sticking point. “He’s a talented two-way kid. We like him as a pitcher, long-term,” Johnson said. “But I know he has ambitions to be a hitter, to do both things.”
The 2018 draft was the most analytics-driven process the Twins have ever undertaken, with in-person scouting reports catalogued in the team’s new database and combined with sophisticated TrackMan radar measurements, plus video analysis to find players with characteristics the Twins prioritize. Their first choice on Wednesday, 11th-rounder Michael Helman, a second baseman at Texas A&M, was one such pick.
“That was from our analytics team. We merged some visuals from his performance” with scouting reports, Johnson said, “and we were glad to get him to lead off the day.”
Similarly, the Twins chose Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa, a high school pitcher from Maui, in the 17th round, even though they hadn’t heavily scouted him. “We had a few shots of video. And we have a pitching assessment that we take from a risk standpoint” that Derek Falvey instituted when he was appointed chief baseball officer, Johnson said. ”So we threw him through our shredder last night and saw some things we liked in his delivery. [Tenth-rounder] Regi Grace is one of the same guys from that standpoint — he’s got a delivery foundation that we want to see in pitchers, and that kind of gave us some confidence to take those guys.”
One player they didn’t take: Oregon State lefthander Luke Heimlich, convicted of molesting his niece when he was 15, who went undrafted. “We made a decision as an organization to not select him,” Johnson said.
Proceed with caution
The unusual nature of Joe Mauer’s condition — the occasional recurrence of concussion-related symptoms, such as sensitivity to light or balance issues — has called for an especially cautious handling of his return to action. And it might make a minor league rehab assignment necessary, Twins manager Paul Molitor said, to insure that taking part in a game, as opposed to all the workouts he’s been doing, doesn’t trigger them again.
“Of all the things he’s tried to introduce himself to, in terms of stimulus and environment, playing a nine-inning game will be different than anything he’s done up to this point,” Molitor said. “So it would make sense to have [a rehab stint] as an option, to make sure that we don’t go backward.”
Mauer took batting practice and fielded grounders with his teammates Wednesday, and outwardly appears close to being ready to play. But “I’m just very cautious about getting too far out” on planning his return, Molitor said.
• Logan Morrison first felt soreness in his lower back in the late innings of Sunday’s game, and it got a little worse Monday. “And then [Tuesday], everything locked up,” he said, so much that he couldn’t rotate his torso without pain and he wasn’t available for the doubleheader. But treatment on Tuesday and Wednesday has dissipated the stiffness, he said, and he was able to field ground balls and take batting practice. “I’ve had back tightness before, but I don’t know if [it was] to this degree,” he said.
“I don’t think playing nine innings is the best thing for him [Wednesday],” Molitor said. “He might be available in some capacity, with the idea of hopefully being back in the starting lineup [Thursday].”
• “The pain reduction has been slow” in Byron Buxton’s fractured left big toe, Molitor said, so the Twins are backing up his rehab schedule even more. “[It’s] probably another three days or so before we even start considering baseball activity,” Molitor said.