It seems that every year the Twins manage to draft a few hometown players. Last year they selected Madison Boer in the second round. Boer went to college in Oregon, but he grew up in Eden Prairie. The year before, the Twins chose Gopher catcher Kyle Knudson in the ninth round, and in 2009 they picked U of M 2B Derek McCallum in round four. In previous years, Minnesotans Glen Perkins and, of course, Joe Mauer became first round picks for the Twins.
There are some advantages to drafting local players. First, a local guy has a good chance to become a fan favorite, since fans can identify with his roots, and many may have watched him play before he joined the Twins. Second, the Twins’ scouts may have a slight advantage with Minnesota players. Every baseball team has an extensive scouting operation, but it’s difficult to watch every player in the United States (or increasingly, the world). By virtue of being located in this state, the Twins have more personnel here than any other team, so they may notice things about the local players that nobody else does.
With Minnesota native pitcher Cole DeVries set to make his first MLB start tomorrow, it might be a good time to discuss some a couple native sons who could join the Twins organization very soon.
Mitch Brown, RHP, Rochester Century High School
Brown is just emerging on the national draft radar, and there’s a chance he could end up with the Twins in the Supplemental round of the draft. The high school senior from Rochester went 7-1 this year with a 0.56 ERA and 103 Ks. According to ESPN’s high school website, Brown can throw his fastball up to 95 miles per hour, and he supplements it with a good curveball and promising cutter. Since he’s a high school player who will likely grow a little bit, Brown could conceivably add even more velocity to his fastball in the minors.
T.J. Oakes, RHP, University of Minnesota
Oakes is a few years older than Brown, and he is not nearly as promising a prospect. But we know the Twins like him, because they drafted him last year in the 41st round last year. Oakes chose instead to play his senior year with the Gophers, and it was probably a good decision for him. He was named as a first team All-Big 10 selection. He earned that recognition by going 7-3 with a 2.31 ERA for the U of M. He also led the team with 78 strikeouts in 97.1 innings. Unlike Brown, Oakes will never be able to blow a fastball by a MLB hitter, but according to one site he was hitting 94 on the radar gun last year. Oakes appears to be a control-oriented groundball pitcher of the type the Twins always fall in love with.
Both of these pitchers would be interesting additions to the Twins, though they come into the draft with vastly different expectations. ESPN’s Keith Law has Brown ranked as the 45th best prospect in the country, so he would not be much of a reach with the Twins’ 32nd or 42nd overall picks in the supplemental round. If he were still available when the Twins draft again at number 62 overall, he might be a bona fide steal. On the other hand, Oakes should be a late round pick again, but he should be worth a selection somewhere between the 20th and 40th rounds. It would be silly to draft him much higher, but it would almost be silly to not try to draft him again.
The Twins desperately need to restock their farm system with some starting arms, so they might as well put a couple local guys in the mix.