Twins scouting director Sean Johnson does not foresee any problems in signing the seven players he selected Tuesday during the first-year player draft.
“We have a lot of confidence now,” Johnson said. “I don’t expect any hiccups along the way. We should get these guys done pretty quick.”
That’s because the moves he made Monday set the Twins up for Tuesday.
They drafted five more pitchers among the seven picks — and also pilfered two players who had committed to LSU — while finding a way to spread out the $14.1 million in bonus money they were assigned by the league.
The Twins will sign first overall pick Royce Lewis for less than the approximate pick value of $7.7 million — a savings of around $1 million, according to a source.
The Twins are expected to sign a couple more of their early picks for below the assigned value. Second-round pick Landon Leach, for instance, was ranked as the 85th-best prospect but drafted 37th overall. He’ll likely sign for less than his assigned value of $1.8 million.
With the savings, the Twins were able to draft a couple of players Tuesday who will cost more than what the league recommended.
The biggest beneficiary will be the first pick of Day 2, righthander Blayne Enlow, from St. Amant (La.) High School. Enlow, considered to have the best curveball of any high school pitcher in the draft, is ranked as the 33rd-best prospect. He slid down the board because he was a strong commit to LSU.
The Twins selected him with the 76th overall pick, which has a value of $755,500.
But the Twins will sign Enlow to a bonus of around $2 million, according to a source, to buy him out of his commitment. The (Baton Rouge) Advocate reported that Enlow was on a golf course Tuesday when he agreed to the deal.
“We figured I would go somewhere in the third or fourth round and that I’d be in line to get some carry-over money,” Enlow said to the Advocate. “That’s when a team takes money they save when they sign other guys for less than what they’re slotted for and they give it to other players.”
Another prospect who will be paid more than the assigned value is fifth-round pick Andrew Bechtold, a third baseman from Chipola (Fla.) College. The value of his pick is $378,700. But he had eligibility left and was transferring to LSU as part of a class that included Enlow. The Twins will pay Bechtold a few hundred thousand more than that.
“I have a commitment to LSU so that’s in my corner,” Bechtold said. “I made it pretty clear to them that I’m ready to play at the next level. But if something doesn’t work out, or something crazy happens, I have LSU to play at.”
Bechtold hit .419 with 12 home runs and 65 RBI in 60 games for Chipola after transferring there from Maryland, where he was friends with Twins minor leaguer LaMonte Wade.
“We had a stacked lineup, which made it pretty easy to hit,” said Bechtold, one of five Chipola players selected over the first two days of the draft.
The Twins selected Charlie Barnes, a lefthander with good control from Clemson, in the fourth round. They picked Ricardo De La Torre, a shortstop with good offensive potential, in the sixth round from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. Ryley Widell, a lefthander from Central Arizona College, was selected in the seventh round.
The final three picks were Bryan Sammons, a lefthander from Western Carolina; Mark Contreras, a speedy outfielder from California-Riverside; and righthander Calvin Faucher, who was a closer at California-Irvine.
The last three picks all were college seniors with no leverage, so the Twins will be able to save some bonus money on them. Every little bit adds up, because the Twins were able to land players they really coveted in Enlow and Bechtold.
“We kind of allocated our funds throughout the first 10 rounds,” Johnson said. “We spread the money out pretty evenly. That’s the advantage of having the pool we had. Being able to get more value with guys that we like.”