The Twins wrapped up the first draft under new baseball boss Derek Falvey and scouting director Sean Johnson on Wednesday, and their internal reviews are pretty good.
“An hour after the draft is over, you feel like you picked seven Hall of Famers,” Johnson joked after adding 30 more draftees to the organization’s list, including one Minnesotan, Woodbury High School righthander Max Meyer, in the 34th round.
It will be a couple decades before we know if Johnson’s projection is too high or low, since it’ll be two or three years before any of the players show up in a major league uniform. But Johnson said the third-day haul was a good one, filled with 15 more pitchers, six outfielders, six infielders and three catchers. Roughly a dozen of them are players the Twins will monitor this summer, and offer contracts if they play well and the Twins have money left over from signing higher picks.
“We’re going to spend every dollar” of their $14.1 million pool for draftees, he said. The signing deadline for picks is July 7.
The Twins opened the day by selecting Puerto Rican outfielder Gabriel Rodriguez, an 18-year-old prodigy “who we think is a legitimate lefthanded power prospect,” Johnson said. “He’s got a plus arm, and plus power — we’re glad he was still there. He’s a guy we plan on signing.”
So is Derek Molina, their 14th round selection and the MVP of California junior colleges’ Central Valley Conference. The infielder will pitch in the Twins’ system, Johnson said. “He came to a workout and we liked his bullpen. He can spin the ball, a nice breaking ball,” Johnson said. “We think it’s a worthwhile shot in that round.”
Overall, Johnson said the draft went well, starting with the selection of shortstop Royce Lewis with the overall No. 1 pick.
“Our analytics group, our IT people who built a lot of cool things, our talent evaluators — we all pulled together in the right direction,” Johnson said. “The energy in the room was good.”
One player the Twins did not take: Oregon State lefthander Luke Heimlich, the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year who, it was revealed a week before the draft, had plead guilty to molesting a 6-year-old relative when he was 15. Like most teams, the Twins had Heimlich ranked high on their draft board, a possibility for their No. 35 or 37 picks.
“We made the decision as an organization not to select him at any point,” Johnson said, and Heimlich went undrafted.
Waiting on a starter
By now, it’s a Saturday tradition: Who’s going to start for the Twins?
Manager Paul Molitor said he will know more on Thursday, after lefthander Hector Santiago throws a bullpen session to test his left shoulder.
“He’s doing well, said he feels really good. We’ll get a better indication when he gets on the mound tomorrow, and then we’ll have to think about if he’s going to need to throw another side,” said Molitor, who on Tuesday termed Santiago “a long shot” for a return in Saturday’s doubleheader.
“There are a couple of things on the board” for that start, he said.
Could one of them be Class AA starters Felix Jorge or Fernando Romero, who are both on the 40-man roster? “Jorge’s numbers of late have been really good,” Molitor acknowledged of the 23-year-old Dominican, who has a 1.32 ERA over his past four starts. “I haven’t totally eliminated those options, but they’re a little bit of a long shot.”
• Nick Tepesch and Drew Rucinski, pitchers who were designated for assignment earlier this month, each cleared waivers and signed new contracts with Class AAA Rochester.
• Kevin Chapman, the lefthander acquired from Atlanta for Danny Santana in May, was released. Chapman, 29, appeared in nine games for Rochester, posting a 5.56 ERA.