We usually take this time to review what has happened this season and predict the offseason award winners. This year will be a little different.
We’re going to look ahead, all right — right past the awards all the way to the 2017 draft.
It just so happens that a certain baseball team has lost so many games that it has clinched the worst record in baseball. That’s right, the Twins will have the first overall pick in the 2017 first-year player draft and should have the most bonus money to spend, based on league recommendations. It will be the first time since 2001 (Joe Mauer) and the second time ever that the Twins have had the top pick in the draft.
Get used to seeing or hearing the term “1-1,” over the next several months. That’s what the first pick of the first round is called.
Given the state of the Twins pitching staff, there will be interest in the club selecting a college pitcher — think immediate help — with the pick.
“Early on, I think we have a chance to get an impact player,” Twins scouting director Deron Johnson said. “You’re going to be forced to take a pitcher and all that. Our belief has always been to take the best player available, and I think you really have to do that picking 1-1.”
No consensus No. 1 pick has emerged yet. There doesn’t appear to be a Bryce Harper-type talent in the group.
But there are college pitchers in the mix for the top spot:
• Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt: Wright has good size — he’s 6-feet, 4 inches and 220 pounds — and throws three pitches that are considered to be above average.
• J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina: Throws 92-94 miles per hour but has reached the upper 90s at times and has a very good slider. There are questions whether he’s more of a reliever than a starter.
• Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida: Twins fans will recognize the last name. He’s a second cousin of Lenny Faedo, the first-round pick of the Twins in 1978. Alex Faedo, 6 feet, 5 inches, throws 93-95 with a good slider. He recently had arthroscopic surgery on both knees and will miss fall baseball but should be ready for spring games.
The Twins could be tempted by high school prospect Hunter Greene, a shortstop/righthander from Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif. — the same school that produced Giancarlo Stanton. Greene has power. He hits 97 mph on the gun. There’s never been a prep righthander taken first overall, but Greene could settle in at short or third base.
And Johnson has visited the family.
“He is an impact talent,” John Manuel of Baseball America said of Greene.
That’s the very early skinny on the 2017 draft class, a class that will change as the high school signing period nears.
“We still have nine months,” Johnson said. “Lots of things can change by then. Carlos Correa wasn’t a 1-1 in September and October of 2011. But he was the next June.”
Indians: Danny Salazar has been out with a right forearm strain, which makes starting a postseason game unlikely. But he threw in the bullpen last week with no problems, so the Cleveland coaching staff believes Salazar could be used out of the bullpen during the postseason. Salazar came down with the injury during a Sept. 9 outing against the Twins.
Royals: Lefthander Danny Duffy is in position to torment the Twins for a few years. He was 1-0 with a 3.10 ERA against them this year as he emerged as the ace of the Royals’ staff with an overall record of 12-3 and a 3.51 ERA. His 188 strikeouts set a club record for lefthanders.
Tigers: If Detroit needs to play a makeup game on Monday — its game with Cleveland was rained out Thursday — the Tigers could start rookie righthander Michael Fulmer, above. He needs three more innings to qualify for the league leaders, and his 3.06 ERA could win the title. It also could help his candadacy for Rookie of the Year.
White Sox: The White Sox could be looking for a new manager after finishing under .500 for three consecutive seasons. Robin Ventura is a free agent, but there are no indications what he plans to do. Current bench coach Rick Renteria is highly thought of in baseball circles, but what if Chicago looks for someone with more experience, such as Ron Gardenhire?
THE 3-2 PITCH
… and two predictions