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The Twins three first-round picks remain unsigned as the deadline for them to reach an agreement with the team fast approaches. 2011 draft picks (with the exception of college seniors) have until 11:00 p.m. central time on Monday night to sign. The Twins typically really focus on signing their picks from the top ten rounds, and for the most part, have done that very well in recent years. Clearly, it is important to sign your first round pick, although if a team is unable to, it will receive a compensatory pick next year. The draft is such an important way to build an organization, and with three first round picks, it is very important that the Twins sign at least two of those picks.
The Twins used the 30th overall pick in the 2011 draft on an infielder from the University of North Carolina named Levi Michael. For years, the Twins have used first round picks on high school bats and college pitchers, but this year, they went with a college bat. Many draft experts called it a great picks. Keith Law, Baseball America and others had Michael ranked in the Top 20 or Top 25 players eligible for the draft, so the Twins got a good prospect at a position of need. Following the draft, Michael and his Tarheel teammates advanced to the College World Series and he really struggled. In fact, he was moved down to 7th in the lineup. Obviously we can’t and shouldn’t make any judgments based on that small sample size, but just watching him play, he certainly did not look impressive. Then you consider that he played shortstop this past season as a junior, but in his two previous years of college, he started at 2B and 3B. Obviously position flexibility will be important, and always is valued by the Twins. I just can’t get the idea that he looks so much like Matt Tolbert, who the Twins drafted in the 14th round in the 2004 draft out of the University of Mississippi. Obviously Tolbert has been a in the big leagues for several years now, which is terrific for a 14th round pick, and it’s probably even good for a late first round pick, but obviously you want Michael to be so much more. And, most likely he will be.
Listen, I understand that it has become cool for first-round picks to hold out and wait until near the deadline to sign. As I write this, with 60 hours before the deadline, just 13 of the 33 first-round picks have signed. Just two of the top 15 picks have signed. Two years ago, the Twins signed Kyle Gibson within the final hour before the deadline. Last year, Alex Wimmers waited until early August to sign. I understand that with the college pitchers who rack up innings like crazy from February through early June. But in my mind, a college hitter has no reason to wait until the deadline to sign if they in fact are going to sign. The Twins drafted Tyler Grimes out of Wichita State in the 5th round and Adam Bryant out of Troy in the 9th round. Both signed very quickly and were immediately sent up to Beloit. That tells me that if Michael would have signed even in early July, he would have probably been sent to Ft. Myers to start his career.
Let’s take a look at those players who were drafted around Michael to see what he should be asking for:
- 28th pick, Sean Gilmartin (Braves), a college LHP from Florida State, signed for $1,134,000.
- 29th pick, Joseph Panik (Giants), a high school shortstop from New York, signed for $1,160,000.
- 30th pick, Levi Michael (Twins), a college middle infielder, has not signed.
- 31st pick, Miki Mahtook (Rays), a college outfielder from LSU, has not signed.
- 32nd pick, Jake Hager (Rays), a high school infielder from Nevada, signed for $963,000.
- 33rd pick, Kevin Matthews (Rangers), a high school LHP from Georgia, signed for $936,000.
That tells me that the Twins should be able to sign Michael for about $1.1 million, or even a little less. Maybe the Twins are trying to lowball him? I really doubt that as the Twins have paid slot for top picks in recent years (the exception being Ben Revere in 2007). In fact, they have shown a willingness to go above slot for some picks, including Gibson. Michael maybe feels he has the upper hand on the Twins, but as the deadline approaches, I believe he loses his stance. If he does not sign by the deadline, he will go back to North Carolina and play next year. He will then be drafted as a college senior next year which means unless he is a very high first-round pick, he will come nowhere near a million dollar pay day. So, why not start his career? I really can’t think of a good reason that he didn’t get signed a month ago, and that’s solely on Michael.
PREDICTION: I think Michael will sign, and I think he will sign for a number right around the slot, probably between $1.05M and $1.1M. I don’t see a ton of upside with him, even as the highest rated college middle infielder in the draft, so I wouldn’t go too much over slot to get him signed. If he is looking for anything over like $1.5 million, I would say just let him go back to school and get another 1st round pick in 2012! Use the extra $1.1-$1.5 million that they didn’t use on Michael to get their two supplemental first-round picks, two players with high ceilings, signed.
The Twins used the 50th overall pick, a compensatory draft pick for losing Type B free agent Jesse Crain, on a high school hitter from California, Travis Harrison. Reports indicate that he is a tremendous prospect with a very high power potential. He has a strong commitment to a scholarship from USC, and when the Twins drafted him, it was known that it would be a difficult signing. It is no surprise at all that Harrison has not signed yet. Here is a look at the players drafted before and after Harrison:
- 44th pick, Michael Fulner (Mets), a high school RHP from Oklahoma, signed for $937,500.
- 45th pick, Trevor Story (Rockies), a high school shortstop from Texas, signed for $915,000.
- 46th pick, Joe Musgrove (Blue Jays), high school RHP from California, signed for $500,000.
- 47th pick, Kennyn Walker (White Sox), a high school outfielder from Utah, signed for $795,000.
- 48th pick, Michael Kelly (Padres), a high school RHP from Florida, has not signed.
- 49th pick, Kyle Crick (Giants), a high school RHP from Texas, signed for $900,000.
- 50th pick, Travis Harrison (Twins), a high school hitter from California, has not signed.
- 51st pick, Dante Bichette (Yankees), a high school 3B from Florida, signed for $750,000.
- 52nd pick, Blake Snell (Rays), a high school LHP from Washington, signed for $684,000.
By looking at that list, the Twins should be offering Harrison somewhere between $800,000 and $900,000. And they certainly have. But because a high school player, especially one with a full scholarship to a baseball powerhouse, does have the power because they can go to college, play for three years and still be drafted after their junior season. So high school players do have the power. However, there is also risk in that because how they will perform in college is not a given. Unless a player becomes a very high pick, the value of the signing bonus will only be a little bit higher.
However, let’s take a look at the 2010 draft. With the 44th pick, the Tigers took a high school 3B named Nick Castellanos. The four picks before him signed for bonuses between $800,000 and $845,000. Castellanos signed for a $3.45 million. Castellanos is currently playing for West Michigan, the Tigers Low A affiliate. Is it possible that Harrison is looking at that signing bonus as an indicator of what he should get? If so, Travis, enjoy your time at USC and good luck in the 2014 draft. I do think that the Twins should be willing to go up to $1.5 million to sign him because of his tremendous power potential.
PREDICTION: I figured all along that this would be a difficult signing for the Twins. I sense that it will take right up to the final hours before the deadline. I think the odds of him signing are 50/50 at best, and that is if the Twins are willing to approach that $1.5 to $1.8 million level. If it takes more than that, especially if he wants that Castellanos money, the Twins shouldn’t go there.
Then with the 55th overall pick (received for the loss of Type B free agent Orlando Hudson), the Twins selected a right-handed pitcher from Bishop Verot high school in Ft. Myers by the name of Hudson Boyd. In his junior season, he became friends with Twins prospect Max Kepler. Obviously much is made out of Boyd being from Ft. Myers and thinking that it somehow means that he will give the Twins some sort of home town discount because their minor league and spring training facilities are in Ft. Myers. That is not even close to the case. Boyd is a very good pitching prospect. He has a fastball that sits between 93 and 95 mph, and when he came to the Twins facilities days before the draft, he even touched 97 mph. He is a big, strong guy, and there is some question of whether he will be a starter or a reliever long term, but with an 18 year old with a 97 mph fastball, I think you take that risk. Again, here are some of the picks before and after Boyd, starting where I left off above:
- 53rd pick, Dwight Smith (Blue Jays), a high school outfielder from Georgia, has not signed.
- 54th pick, Brett Austin (Padres), a high school catcher from North Carolina, has not signed.
- 55th pick, Hudson Boyd (Twins), a high school pitcher from Florida, has not signed.
- 56th pick, Kes Carter (Rays), a high school outfielder from Kentucky, signed for $625,000.
- 57th pick, Kevin Comer (Blue Jays), a high school RHP from New Jersey, has not signed.
- 58th pick, Jace Peterson (Padres), a shortstop from high school in Louisiana, signed for $624,600.
So again, the Twins should be offering Boyd a signing bonus just north of $625,000. I have been told that Boyd would sign immediately if the Twins offer up a $1 million bonus. For a player with his upside and that fastball, I can’t imagine that $350,000 would be significant enough. In fact, if I look back at the 2010 supplemental first-round picks, two of them signed for more than $1 million. The Rangers signed the 45th pick, Luke Jackson, a RHP from Miami, for $1.557 million. The Cardinals signed Tyrell Jenkins, a high school pitcher from Texas for $1.3 million. The Rockies signed the 47th overall pick, Peter Tago, for $982,000.
There definitely is precedent for the Twins to go over-slot, especially for pitchers. Kyle Gibson signed for about $500,000 over slot in 2009. BJ Hermsen signed for 2nd round money even though the Twins drafted him in the 6th round. Jeff Manship got fourth round money even though he was taken in the 14th round in 2006.
PREDICTION: I think that the Twins will come to a deal with Boyd, but I do think that it will be right around $1 million. It is also possible that he will wait a long time to see what the Twins do with Harrison and try to get something close to that number.
TOP TEN PICKS SIGNED
2nd round pick – Eden Prairie native Madison Boer was selected with the 87th overall pick and signed pretty quickly for $405,000, a value very near slot. He began his career in the Elizabethton bullpen before recently being promoted to the Beloit bullpen. The Twins will have him start beginning next year and determine later whether his future is as a starter or a reliever.
3rd round pick – The Twins drafted Corey Williams, a hard-throwing left-hander from Vanderbilt with the 117th overall pick. He signed late in July for $575,000, approximately double the slot value. When he was drafted, it was known that he would require more than slot, but he and the Twins got it done, and he has begun his career in the Elizabethton bullpen.
4th round pick – The Twins selected UC-Irvine ace (and Big West Pitcher of the Year) Matt Summers with the 147th overall pick. He signed pretty quickly as well for $171,900, very near (if not exactly) the slot value. He too began his career in the Elizabethton bullpen, but he will also be a starting pitcher.
5th round pick – Tyler Grimes signed quickly out of Wichita State for $132,900 and began his career in the Beloit infield.
6th round pick – The Twins used this selection on the son of future Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Dereck Rodriguez signed in late June for $130,000.
7th round pick – The Twins drafted Steven Gruver, a LHP from the University of Tennessee and signed him for $125,000.
9th round pick – Adam Bryant, a shortstop, was drafted out of Troy University. As a four-year college senior, he had absolutely no leverage and signed very quickly for $25,000, well under slot.
8th round pick Jason Wheeler, a 6-8, 265 pound left-hander from Loyola Marymount still has not signed. He pitched last summer for the St. Cloud River Bats of the Northwoods League where he was named Pitcher of the Year after going 8-1 with a 1.35 ERA. He was 6-4 with a 3.84 ERA in his junior year at Loyola Marymount. Here’s a look at the picks around him:
- 266th pick, Thomas LaStella (Braves), 2B, signed for $105,000.
- 267th pick, Jean Delgado (Giants), IF, has not signed.
- 268th pick, Jason Wheeler (Twins), LHP, has not signed.
- 269th pick, Phil Wetherell (Yankees), RHP, signed for $122,500.
- 270th pick, John Alexander (Rays), 1B, signed for $323,500
So as you can see, the pattern here is actually a little backwards. I would guess the Twins would like to sign him for somewhere between $100,000 and $120,000. I can’t imagine that Wheeler would expect the Twins to go much higher than that and yet, he hasn’t signed yet. He does still have college as leverage, but at the same time, unless he is a first-round pick in 2012, he won’t make more than what the Twins are likely offering.
10th round pick Brett Lee, a left-handed pitcher from St. Petersburg JC, is yet to sign. He posted a 5.06 ERA in 80 innings this past season. He struck out 75 and walked 25. Here is a look at those drafted around him:
- 325th pick, Ronald Brooks Pinckard (Reds), SS, signed for $125,000.
- 326th pick, Logan Robbins (Braves), IF, signed for $100,000.
- 327th pick, Kentrell Hill (Giants), OF, signed for $100,000.
- 328th pick, Brett Lee (Twins), LHP, has not signed.
- 329th pick, John Gray (Yankees), RHP, has not signed
Again, the Twins are probably offering about $100,000 and leaving it up to Lee. I can’t imagine the Twins quibbling over $20,000 or $25,000, but there is little reason to go much beyond that. Again, if the Twins don’t sign Lee, there is another $100,000 that can go to Harrison or Boyd.
16th round pick Austin Malinowski was the Mr. Baseball winner in Minnesota this year. The Twins like the left-handed pitcher, but he has a scholarship to the University of Arizona. Last week, I asked him if he was signing. He told me he thought he was going to college. That is understandable because with his potential, in three years, he could be drafted significantly higher than this. My guess is that the Twins will have another discussion with him and his advisor before the deadline, but he will likely pitch in college for three years.
Obviously there are a lot more draft picks that the Twins have not signed. As of this writing, the Twins have signed 23 of their 52 draft picks. That is a good number, a pretty standard number for the Twins or any team. However, the value of the draft is in those three first round picks. If they can sign the top three picks, it will be a very successful draft. If they can sign two of them, it will be a good draft. If they sign one, it will be frustrating. If then sign none, it will really, really hurt.
I have no doubt that a lot will happen over the next two days. I do think that the Twins will sign at least two of those first round picks, and probably another pick or two from later in the draft.
We shall see! It will be very interesting!
MINOR LEAGUE NOTES
- Rochester 3, Columbus 4 – The Red Wings and Columbus completed a game started in June, with the Clippers winning that game 6-3. Then they played a seven innings game. The Wings scored three in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough. Dennis Suarez made his first start and gave up three runs on six hits in 5.1 innings. He did not walk or strike out a batter. Dusty Hughes gave up one run on one hit. In 1.2 innings, he walked one and struck out three. Brandon Roberts was 2-4 with his seventh double. Luke Hughes was 2-4 and drove in two runs.
- New Britain 4, Bowie 3 – Logan Darnell made his first AA start. The lefty went 7.2 innings and gave up three unearned runs on four hits. He walked one and struck out six to record the Win. Steve Hirschfeld got the final four outs for his first save. Chris Parmelee went 3-4 with his 26th double. Chris Herrmann was 1-2 with two walks.
- Ft. Myers 2, Palm Beach 10 – Edgar Ibarra started and gave up just one run on four hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out four. Alex Wimmers gave up three runs (1 earned) on two hits and a walk. He walked one and struck out one. Clinton Dempster gave up five runs (4 earned) on four hits in 1.1 innings. Matt Tone gave up one run on one hit and before getting the final two outs. The Miracle managed just three hits.
- Beloit 4, Wisconsin 1 – Weather affected this game. They were delayed to start and got through just seven innings before it was called. Manuel Soliman pitched all seven innings for the Win. He gave up one run on three hits and a walk. He struck out three. Adam Bryant went 2-3. Nate Roberts was 1-1 with a walk and his 11th double before leaving the game.
- Elizabethton 7, Johnson City 6 – It was a big day for Miguel Sano. After striking out nine times and going 0-11 in his past three games, Sano went 3-4 with his 12th double and his 11th and 12th home runs in this game. AJ Pettersen went 2-3 with a walk and his first professional home run. Rory Rhodes was 2-3 with a walk and his eighth double. Tim Atherton got the start and gave up two runs on three hits in four innings. He walked none and struck out six. Todd Van Steensel gave up three runs (1 earned) on three hits in 3.1 innings. He walked none and struck out seven. Corey Williams recorded his first save. He gave up one run on two hits in 1.2 innings.
- GCL Twins 4, GCL Red Sox 1 – Bobby O’Neill started and gave up just two hits in five scoreless innings. He walked two and struck out five. Kyle Wahl then struck out three in two shutout frames. Luis Nunez then gave up one run on one hit in two innings. He struck out three. The Twins had just three hits. Jacob Younis went 1-2 with two walks.
- Twins Minor League Weekly from Thursday night is chock full with information from the Twins minor league system from score updates, to transactions and much more.
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