Organizational Review and Draft Thoughts

8 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Good Morning! Happy Draft Day! It’s been busy here at SethSpeaks.net. Last week, I did several media-related events as well as worked on my top 50 Twins prospects. On Sunday night, I joined Justin Gaard and Phil Mackey for the final segment of Twins Weekly and talked Twins minor leaguers. It is fun to think about minor leaguers and if and how and when they will be able to help the Twins. If you were to go back and look at my top 20 Twins prospects from last week, 15 of them were drafted by the Twins, two were guys signed by the Twins as international free agents, and one (Rob Delaney) was signed as a free agent after he was not drafted by anyone in 50 rounds in 2006. Two were acquired via a trade.

Today is the first day of the 2009 Major League First-Year Players Draft. MLB.tv will again be televising the first round, and I believe the supplemental picks, so if you get a chance to, be sure to watch that. As I have done on the first day of the draft the last couple of years, I like to to take a look at the Twins system and determine where the organization has its biggest needs. That doesn’t mean that is what the Twins need to draft in the early rounds, of course, just a more global overview of the system. I will give some of my theories on the draft. Deron Johnson will again be in charge of the draft, although I am sure that he is working closely with Jim Rantz, Bill Smith, Mike Radcliff, Terry Ryan and all of the scouts in the system. Those decision makers have been meeting for over a week to make their draft boards. I would love to bein the draft room with them, watching them review all of the names on their board and listening to the determining factors for who they will select with each pick. The Twins have the 22nd pick in the first round. They also get a supplemental first round pick for losing Dennys Reyes.

So today, I am going to look at the players in the organization by position (NOTE – I won’t include players at Extended Spring Training, although it is important to remember that several players (Hicks? Hermsen? Ladendorf? Stuifbergen?) could certainly potentially be good , and discuss the needs. 

CATCHERS

Twins Joe Mauer, Mike Redmond
Rochester Jose Morales, Drew Butera
New Britain Wilson Ramos, Jeff Christy
Ft. Myers Danny Lehmann, Allan de San Miguel, Jair Fernandez
Beloit Alexander Soto, Jeff Lanning

 

I guess that Mauer guy is pretty good, huh? So the hope should be to develop some backup catcher possibilities and have a couple of guys groomed as guys who could potentially be a regular should Mauer a.) need a DL stint or b.) (gulp) sign as a free agent with another team. The only guy in the organization right now that fits the “regular” catcher possibility is Wilson Ramos who (potentially) could be good both offensively and defensively. They have a bunch of good defensive catchers, led by Drew Butera. But realize that Jeff Christy, Danny Lehmann and Allan de San Miguel are also excellent backstops. Alexander Soto is probably the next closest to a potential regular as he has shown some power and pitchers really like throwing to him. Danny Rams, Josmil Pinto and Fred Hanvi are all worth watching in their short seasons.

Seth Draft Strategy – I certainly would not want to spend a lot of money on a guy that you hope will be a backup in 3-4 year. I wouldn’t use a Top 5 round pick on a catcher, but I would probably take a college guy in the 6-10 range as they have done with Lehmann and Christy. Then I would take two or three more in the later rounds, younger guys with upside who can play in the GCL. Late rounds, I would take a couple more college guys just because catchers are needed, just because of the quantity of pitchers.

FIRST BASE

Twins Justin Morneau
Rochester Brock Peterson, Justin Huber
New Britain Whit Robbins, Erik Lis
Ft. Myers Chris Parmelee, Rene Leveret
Beloit Jonathan Waltenbury (Hank Sanchez)

 

The Twins made the commitment to Justin Morneau to keep him around through the 2013 season. So again, hopefully we would be looking for a backup option out of this group. It is always important to note, for any position but specifically the 1B position, that the Twins will be in need of a DH and pinch hitting options as well. Whit Robbins certainly is hitting like a future big league. Parmelee is still all about potential, and it will be interesting to see how Waltenbury progresses.  

Seth’s Draft Strategy – First base is an offensive position. Although the AAA 1B situation is weak, this position has some quality prospects with some upside. However, if there are guys that they believe will be able to hit for power, they should draft them when they are available and make sense. Obviously Morneau makes this a position of power, but I don’t think the depth at this position is excellent throughout the system. I think this is a position where they may want to consider some high school or junior college guys with big upsides, looking five to seven years into the future. 

SECOND BASE

Twins Alexi Casilla, Matt Tolbert
Rochester Steve Tolleson (Alejandro Machado)
New Britain Brian Dinkelman
Ft. Myers Steve Singleton
Beloit Dominic de la Osa, Drew Thompson

 

This is a position of need at the big league level as Casilla has been a disappointment this year and Tolbert is really a utility player. Tolleson and Dinkelman have shown enough to warrant consideration as future starting 2B. I still believe that Singleton can be that as well. So, I really don’t find this to be a high priority position of need. That said, it is a position that should be considered. IF there is a Dustin Pedroia-like player available in college, he should be considered and put right into the mix with the others.

Seth’s Draft Strategy – I probably wouldn’t draft a high school 2B unless he was just an incredible great hitter. The reason? I would have to wonder, if he is so good, why he isn’t playing SS. Bad arm? No range? Non-athletic? College 2B should also be very good hitters although at that level, there will be other guys who can play SS, so it isn’t quite so bad. See the SS strategy for more.  

THIRD BASE

Twins Joe Crede, Brian Buscher
Rochester Luke Hughes, Matt Macri
New Britain Danny Valencia
Ft. Myers Deibinson Romero, Nick Romero (Yangervis Solarte)
Beloit Nathan Hanson, Juan Richardson

 

Joe Crede has been a good signing so far, but you have to assume he will be with the team only this year. If he is so good, he will warrant a multi-year contract and money that the Twins should not risk. If he’s not good, and would only get a one year deal, it likely means he isn’t the right choice. We all hope the Luke Hughes/3B situation ends in the somewhat near future so that Danny Valencia can get up to AAA this year so that he can be given a legitimate shot to win the starting job for Opening Day 2010 and for many years beyond. The team is also high on Deibinson Romero who is all about tools and such because it really hasn’t shown in numbers.

Seth’s Draft Strategy - Again, I don’t see this as a big organizational need now or in the forseeable future, but adding depth would be a good idea. As long as the player is at the top of the Twins draft board, 3B is a position that could at least use more depth. That player should be solid with the glove and provide enough Slugging production. High upside high school guys like Bobby Borchering would make sense while college guys like Nick Romero could also work up through the system in order to develop stronger depth throughout. 

SHORTSTOP

Twins Brendan Harris, Nick Punto
Rochester Trevor Plouffe, Steve Tolleson
New Britain Yancarlos Ortiz
Ft. Myers Chris Cates, (Estarlin de los Santos)
Beloit Ramon Santana, James Beresford

 

This is one hurting position throughout the system. I like Brendan Harris and think he is a solid every day player. Nick Punto has turned into 2007 Punto but with poor defensive skill, so that makes for a really bad player. Trevor Plouffe still isn’t quite there, and I don’t know that Tolleson is an everyday SS. Below that, there just isn’t a strong option, and I really think this position needs help. Reggie Williams has upside. Nick Papasan is now retired. This is a position of need throughout the system, and I would not hesitate to take a

Seth’s Draft Strategy - I would draft a bunch of shortstops! High school. Junior College. College. Why? First, because it is an organizational need throughout the system. But also, shortstops are generally great athletes and if you have a bunch of them, you create competition and if they need to, they have the athleticism in many cases to adjust to 2B or 3B, or even the OF. If a shortstop is long and lanky and grows and adds power, there is a natural move to 3B. This is especially true of high school shortstops. College shortstops have three or four more years of experience, so you have a little better clue of what they might be able to do. This is the position I would most focus on with both high school and college choices. 

OUTFIELD

Twins Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez, Denard Span
Rochester Dustin Martin, Jason Pridie, Tommy Watkins, David Winfree
New Britain Brandon Roberts, Juan Portes, Matt Moses, Rene Tosoni
Ft. Myers Joe Benson, Ben Revere, Mark Dolenc, Evan Bigley
Beloit Angel Morales, Michael Harrington, Ozzie Lewis (Adan Severino)

 

I think we know that Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Denard Span will be around for awhile. The Delmon Young/Carlos Gomez situation likely has to be figured out in the offseason. There are a couple of serviceable players at the AA and AAA levels that could likely provide The high-upside guys are lower, the Joe Benson, Ben Revere, Aaron Hicks and Angel Morales ceilings are what is exciting. I really believe there is enough depth that once the big league situation is resolved, there are options to move forward with until those guys are ready.

Seth’s Draft Strategy – The assumption is that the Twins don’t really need to focus on outfielders, and although I agree with that for the most part, if there is someone at the top of the draft board, it doesn’t hurt to draft him at all. Why? Because there are three outfield positions that need to be filled at each level, and the other obvious reason is that not all high ceiling prospects become major leaguers, much less all-stars.  

STARTING PITCHERS

Twins Nick Blackburn, (Glen Perkins), Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, Anthony Swarzak
Rochester Brian Duensing, Kevin Mulvey, Philip Humber, Reid Santos, Jason Jones
New Britain Ryan Mullins, Jay Rainville, Cole Devries, Jeff Manship, Matt Fox, Carlos Gutierrez
Ft. Myers Tyler Robertson, Deolis Guerra, David Bromberg, Mike McCardell,
Beloit Dan Osterbrock, Brad Tippett, Dan Berlind, Bobby Lanigan, Michael Allen (Shooter Hunt)

 

The Twins are finally going with a young rotation, well, other than Livan who will likely be gone in less than two months. There are four starters there under the age of 26. And, consider that Francisco Liriano certainly will be a big league pitcher again in the near future. Brian Duensing and Kevin Mulvey, Anthony Swarzak and Jeff Manship, these are starters that could be ready within the next year if needed. And Tyler Robertson and Deolis Guerra are both very young, but they have the highest upside of anyone on the list not named Liriano. The Twins always have solid pitching prospects and a strong pipeline that just keeps producing quality major league starters.

Seth’s Draft Strategy – There is no such thing as too much pitching. Depth is a very positive thing. And also, the organization’s philosophy is that if you have pitching, you will always have a chance, and that is hard to dispute. When the best player available is a pitcher, then get the pitcher. College or high school. Get the pitcher with the highest upside. Of the top 12 picks, I would have no problem if five or six of them were pitchers. Never too many pitchers.  

RELIEF PITCHERS

Twins Joe Nathan, Jose Mijares, Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Luis Ayala, R.A. Dickey, Sean Henn, (Pat Neshek, Boof Bonser),
Rochester Tim Lahey, Armando Gabino, Rob Delaney, Bobby Keppel, Juan Morillo, Ben Hendrickson
New Britain Zach Ward, Anthony Slama, Frank Mata, Jose Lugo,Yohan Pino, Alex Burnett, (Oswaldo Sosa)
Ft. Myers Blair Erickson, Spencer Steedley, Steve Hirschfeld, Loek Van Mil, Kyle Waldrop, Henry Arias, Santos Arias
Beloit Matt Williams, Joe Testa, Danny Rondon, Bruce Pugh, Steve Blevins, Michael Tarsi, Curtis Leavitt, Blake Martin

 

The Twins bullpen is really down this year. It is amazing how the loss of Pat Neshek, that 8th inning certainty before Joe Nathan, really is having a profound affect on the team. Don’t get me wrong, the bullpen is still solid. Reyes has been OK. Crain has struggled, but he is a year after his shoulder surgery and he is certainly in the Twins plans. Brian Bass and Boof Bonser are two guys that are kind of at the crossroads.  The Twins seem to always have very good relievers throughout their system. The Ft. Myers and Beloit bullpens are terrific and there are several guys in EST that are good too. It’s also important to note that most big league relievers are failed starters (or at least starters without opportunity).

Seth’s Draft Strategy – Unless you’re talking about Jesse Crain or Pat Neshek, I probably wouldn’t draft a reliever too often. The Twins took Blair Erickson and Danny Rondon last year in the Top 10-12 picks. Unless you’re going to rush them up the system, I don’t think that makes a lot of sense. Remember that the Twins drafted Anthony Slama in the 39th round a couple of years ago. They also were able to sign Rob Delaney and Steve Hamburger as free agents. So, I don’t think I would ever intentionally draft a relief pitcher too early in the draft.

SUMMARY

So, there you have a very quick overview of the Twins organization. What does it show us? You can’t just look at the big league level. As strong as Justin Morneau is at 1B, I have to say that there is not a lot of depth at the position. As bad as second base has been at the big league level for the Twins in 2009, there are several options that could help the Twins to some degree. What do the Twins need? Shortstops and pitching.

So, my overall draft strategy? Well, it is probably very similar to that of the Twins. In my opinion, I just think that you take the best guy available for at least the first eight to twelve rounds. If you’re stuck between two players, then you look at your organizational depth chart and see where your greater need is. After the 10th or 12th round, I would consider taking several shortstops. I would take some college pitching, including several junior college types. I would take a couple of catchers. And, I would take a few of outfielders. The infielders can move around for a year or two as they develop. The outfielders can do the same thing. They will weed themselves out.

I think it is also important to remember that the 2005 draft was not ‘normal.’ So many from that draft are already up in the big leagues whether they were drafted out of high school or college. The Big Three 3B (Ryan Braun, Alex Gordon and Ryan Zimmerman) have panned out. Those high school outfielders (Justin Upton, Jay Bruce and soon-to-be-up Cameron Maybin and Andrew McCutcheon) and college outfielders like Jacoby Ellsbury. Matt Garza and Kevin Slowey have already made it and Brian Duensing is doing well in AAA. That 2005 draft was an exception, and even some of those guy that are close to coming up, have now spent three years in the minor leagues. So, expecting short-term solutions is simply not fair at all. The Twins draft 14th, 27th and 31st, and although they can get some high level talent with all three of those picks, the guys that are ready within a year or so are generally taken within the first five or so picks.

College players are generally closer to the big leagues from when they are drafted, but if you look at the Twins lineup, it is interesting. Who would you consider the top Twins hitters? Well, Joe Mauer was drafted out of high school. Justin Morneau was drafted out of high school. Michael Cuddyer? Drafted out of high school. Jason Kubel, drafted out of high school. Carlos Gomez? Well, he was signed as a free agent from the Dominican Republic as a 16 year old. So, I know we tend to be a bit frustrated, but with high school draft picks, you have to be patient.

In the end, the draft is a crap shoot of sorts. But, I think that the Twins have done a nice job in the mid-rounds picking up some sleeper types. Jason Kubel and David Winfree were taken in the 12th and 13th rounds. In 2006, Jeff Manship was taken in the 14th round and Danny Valencia was taken in the 19th round. Anthony Slama was a 39th round pick that year. People thought that the Twins reached a little for Carlos Gutierrez and Ben Revere and look at what he has done to start out his career. In reality, we will not know how well the Twins drafted in 2009 until at least 2015, so don’t make too much out of it no matter what.

In reality, the Twins will likely go through who they draft, and they will determine how many they want to sign. The last three years, they have signed everyone that they wanted to with just one exception.

It’s time!  

If you were the Twins Director of Scouting, Deron Johnson, what would your philosophy be going into the draft? Feel free to share your thoughts on that, or on my thoughts on the Twins organization.

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19 Responses to “Organizational Review and Draft Thoughts”

  1. Dwade June 8, 2009 at 10:45 pm #

    I’m a much more aggressive prospect guy than anyone the Twins have in their stable right now, but depending on who was or was not on the board, I’d strongly consider taking a polished college arm (not unlike Gutierez last year) that could impact the bullpen yet this season.

    Outside of that, I would be drafting as many middle infielders as possible. HS, college, doesn’t matter to me. The system is so picked over, they simply need to make smart picks that are going to reach the MLB level.

  2. Dome Dog June 8, 2009 at 11:28 pm #

    I was looking at Twins drafts from the past, and it was interesting. As high as you can be about players that are drafted, you are lucky if 5-10 of them ever make an appearance in the big leagues, and of that, maybe 1-2 make a significant contribution. It seems like the key is to make sure you have 1 guy every year that makes a significant contribution at the big league level.

    The Twins 1989 draft wasn’t too shabby. They drafted 2 future rookie of the year players (Knoblauch & Cordova), a 20 game winner (Scott Erickson), and another pitcher who won over 130 games in the big leagues (Denny Neagle). Not a bad draft…

  3. Ed Lee June 8, 2009 at 11:52 pm #

    Any plans to do more podcasts, or are they going away?

  4. Ed Lee June 9, 2009 at 12:34 am #

    hmmm… that sounded sarcastic and I didn’t mean it to. What I mean to say is thanks for all the Twins content and I really enjoy it. Must be tough with the little one and the full time job. I suspect you are bringing more people joy with your writing than you think. (There… that sounds better. Now! where are the podcasts ;-))

  5. SHS June 9, 2009 at 12:46 am #

    As far as individuals go, I think the Twins will target:

    1B/3B Bobby Borchering
    SP Matt Hobgood
    SP Eric Arnett
    SP Matt Purke (LHP) – could he fall to us in round 1?
    SP Mike Minor (LHP)
    SP Chad James (LHP)
    SP Garrett Gould
    OF Tim Trout
    OF Raymond Fuentes
    OF Everett Williams
    OF Chris Jenkins
    OF Jason Kipniss
    OF Slade Heathcott
    OF Jared Mitchell -(once drafted by the Twins, doubt we bite on him though)
    2B McCallum (from the U of M)

    what about the big tall Aussie, LHP J. Spence the counterpart to RHP Mike Leake (projected top 10 pick) at Arizona State?

    Spence was once almost signed by the Twins at the age of 17 out of Australia and is now developed into a beast, looks like a good, solid future Left-handed reliever.

    OVERALL

    this is a VERY good draft in terms of pitching IMO

    it lacks hitting, for sure but if you target pitching in the early rounds, first 3, 4 picks you’re going to get some dandy pitchers.

  6. Kyle B June 9, 2009 at 2:47 am #

    Seth – may want to check on your summaries for the Pitchers. Both of them are from last year.

  7. brad June 9, 2009 at 8:34 am #

    IMO the Twins pitching in the minors is lacking high end caliber starters after all the promotions the past few years. The top 3-4 (outside of Gutierez) all have major flaws in control, injury history or lack a strong 3rd pitch. Just like a few years back when they went heavy in the draft that netted them Slowey, Garza, Duensing & Mullins I expect them to restock the farm system with some high end arms (hopefully Hobgood)

  8. mike wants wins June 9, 2009 at 8:37 am #

    Definitely a copy and paste issue there in the pitcher area. Overall, great analysis and information as usual.

    If you could draft for need, SS and high end starting pitcher would be my preference. But, you can’t in MLB like in other sports. I’d always err on the side of SS, SP, and OF. You need 5 starters and 5-7 relievers at each level. You need 4 OFers at each level. And, as Seth points out, SS can become SS, 2b, 3b, or OF.

  9. TT June 9, 2009 at 8:57 am #

    “The Twins 1989 draft wasn’t too shabby. They drafted 2 future rookie of the year players (Knoblauch & Cordova), a 20 game winner (Scott Erickson), and another pitcher who won over 130 games in the big leagues (Denny Neagle). Not a bad draft…”

    You left Mike Trombley and Dennis Hocking off that list. That was, arguably, one of the best drafts ever by any team. One regular is a success. The typical draft produces less than 5 players who contribute anything at the major league level.

    One regular is considered a successful draft. The typical draft produces less than 5 players who will contribute anything at the major league level and that includes guys like George Tsamis and Dan Masteller in 1989.

    Usually less than half the players taken in the first round will appear in a major league uniform. And the odds go down from there. After the first 100 it really is a crap-shoot with very few players ever making it to the major leagues.

    I think looking at “needs” is irrelevant for the first 100 players – where they will take the best guy available regardless of position. After that, filling organizational holes becomes a factor. But those players are going to be longshots at ever making it to the major leagues.

  10. DH in Philly June 9, 2009 at 10:19 am #

    I heard a scout on the radio say that this year’s draft is relatively weak at the top (maybe the first round), but exceptionally rich in talent in the round 2-6 neighborhood, so that favors a team with good scouting.

  11. Dome Dog June 9, 2009 at 11:02 am #

    I forgot about Trombley and Hocking!! Not a bad draft at all!

    Seth, knowing that it is so unlikely for most of these draft picks to ever see the Major Leagues, does that make it harder for you to be enthusiastic about the minor league system? When you put out your top 50 prospect list (which I really enjoy, by the way!), you put a guestimate on when each player could be in the bigs. I know you aren’t saying that all of those guys could get there (it’s just a best case scenario you are looking at for each one), but how hard is it when in reality only a handful are going to make a major league club and even fewer will have a significant impact? Just a curious question for you. Keep up the good work!

  12. thrylos98 June 9, 2009 at 12:05 pm #

    I think that SS is definitely a need in this organization. As far as pitching goes, it’s worth while to mention that from the 94 pitchers in the organization (from the Twins all the way down to the DSL) only 19 are LHP and all the LHP starters (grand total of 7 through out the organization) are struggling in one degree or another. Since each team has 5 starters having only 7 LHSP in an organization of 8 teams (Twins, Red Wings, Rock Cats, Miracle, Snappers, E-Twins, GCL-Twins, DSL-Twins) is a huge glaring deficit. I suspect that the Twins will pick about 5-6 lefty arms this season (and/or try to work some trades in the lower levels of the organization)

  13. brad June 9, 2009 at 10:02 pm #

    I LOVE the 1st & 2nd round picks! Gibson & Bullock both have very high ceilings IMO.

  14. loudjon June 10, 2009 at 9:15 am #

    looking at ’03 draft…

    Rd. 1 – Matt Moses – in AAA
    Rd. 2 – Scott Baker – in rotation great pick
    Rd. 13 – David Winfree – in AAA
    Rd. 14 – Levale Speigner – MLB Debut with Nats in ’07.
    Rd. 18 – Eli Tintor – flopping in Beloit
    Rd. 38 – Travis Metcalf – DNS. Debuted with Texas in ’07.
    Rd. 45 – Steve Pearce. – DNS. Debuted with Pitt in ’07.
    Rd. 49 – Michael Hollimon – DNS Debuted with Detroit in ’08.

    Overall – 1 made it to Majors with Twins. 1 signed and made majors. 3 did not sign and debuted else where. 3 are still in minors, with 2 having a legitimate shot of being back up outfielders. (Hopefully, the next incarnation of Pedro Munoz or at least Brian Buchanan.)

  15. loudjon June 10, 2009 at 9:20 am #

    2003 = poor draft. 1 out of 50. 3 out of 50 if they are lucky.

  16. loudjon June 10, 2009 at 9:48 am #

    2004 draft by comparison. 3 have made the majors: perkins, swaRzak, and tolbert. a total of 12, by my count are still in the org. with good potential.

  17. loudjon June 10, 2009 at 9:54 am #

    2002 draft by comparison = dspan, jcrain & pneshek. DNS adam lind or jeff clement. also produced “AAAA” players ricky barrett and doug deeds

  18. TT June 11, 2009 at 4:36 pm #

    If Baker continues to pitch the way he has, 2003 was a successful draft. 1999 and 2000 were similar with Kubel and Morneau as the only real successes. It seems to me the real measure of a draft’s success is the contributions players make at the major league level. Drafting players that aren’t signable doesn’t make a draft “better”. Neither does drafting a bunch of players who get to the major leagues but aren’t successful.

    1998 is the only draft that was really a failure.

  19. peterb June 11, 2009 at 6:26 pm #

    Punto—– quote: poor defensive skill—I have never heard a baseball person say this yet. That quote baffles me. If anything he is a defensive specialist. A hockey guy once told me that everybody sees the ice a little differently. I guess that applies to baseball as well. However, I do believe that the Twins need a quality shortstop who can hit.
    Punto could be a valuable utility man

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