Good morning and welcome to a very special edition of This Week in Twins. Sure, the Twins are going to play some games this week, but TWIT is more interested in the draft!
This evening at 6:00 p.m. Central Time, the Rule 4 Draft kicks off. Unlike last year, we won’t have to wait long to hear who the Twins’ first selection is; they go on the clock as soon as the Astros make their decision. And a lot hinges on the ‘Stros pick. If Houston selects Texas native Mark Appel (and MLB Trade Rumors reports they will), that may limit the Twins’ ability to draft a potential top of the rotation hurler, unless they have their eyes on Kevin Gausman or Kyle Zimmer. On the other hand, Houston could theoretically snatch Byron Buxton away from the Twins, which would probably force them to choose a pitcher. TWIT will not be surprised at all if the Twins do select Buxton, since they tend to love toolsy high school outfielders, and since Buxton seems to have very high upside.
The draft is not only the highlight of the week, it’s a chance to make decisions that will affect the team for years, even decades. And it may be the last time the Twins ever have so many opportunities to add impact players. After that number 2 pick, the Twins hold the 32nd and 42nd overall picks in the supplemental round, and they also own Colorado’s second round pick, thanks to the departures of Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer. But due to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, those kinds of compensatory picks could be few and far between in the future. Thus, the sense of urgency to draft franchise cornerstone players is palpable this year.
TWIT’s prediction: The Twins will draft either Gausman or Zimmer second overall, and they’ll use one of the supplemental picks on Rochester high school prospect Mitchell Brown. Also, look for the Twins to stock up on pitchers in the first 10 or 20 rounds.
As for the games, Minnesota opens a three game stretch against fellow AL Central doormat Kansas City tonight. After an off day on Thursday, the Cubs come to town. All in all, this week is a perfect chance for the Twins to pad their stats against some awful teams (of course, the Cubs and Royals might be thinking the same thing).
Francisco Liriano. We don’t want to get too excited about Liriano’s outing against the Athletics. But the guy definitely did enough to earn a slot on the Weekly Winners list. Nine strikeouts and no runs in six innings was about as good of a return to the rotation as Liriano could have made. Let’s see what he does next.
Josh Willingham. He continues to hit. The righty slugger went 8 for 25 (.320) with a pair of homers to put him in the team lead with 10. He also contributed a key double in Sunday’s win.
Oswaldo Arcia. Okay, so technically Arcia isn’t on the Twins’ 25 man roster, but his performance was far too good for TWIT to ignore. At high-A Fort Myers, he produced two 4-hit games and went 12/21 overall with three homers. Check out his weekly slash line: .571/.640/1.048!
Carl Pavano. It is becoming increasingly difficult to believe there’s nothing physically wrong with Pavano. A bastion of consistency the last two seasons, Pavano has struggled to make it through starts lately. In his one start this week, he lasted just 3.2 innings and let the Indians bang out nine hits. After the game he headed back to the Twin Cities for an MRI, and he may end up on the Disabled List.
Brian Dozier. Dozier has won the starting shortstop job, but there will be growing pains. He hit a not horrible .238 in 21 at bats this week, but he also committed a couple of errors in Sunday’s matchup against Cleveland. Let’s not read too much into the defensive miscues, though; it takes time for a player to adjust to the shortstop position at the MLB level.