When you look at the Twins’ 2013 draft, a few things immediately jump out. First is that out of 40 picks, they selected 23 pitchers. Second is that they drafted three catchers in the first ten rounds. In fact, in the first ten rounds, they drafted one non-pitcher or catcher player. At first glance, it may seem odd to lean so extremely heavily on pitching and catching in the draft. But when considering the state of the Twins minor league system prior to the draft, it begins to make more sense. The Twins have in the past couple years managed to stockpile and amazing collection of young position players through international signings and the draft – enough so to be a top 5 system in baseball. But that is in spite of having only a couple of legitimate top starting pitching prospects and most of those guys are in the high minors. Kohl Stewart at number 4 was not considered a slam dunk pick. If the Twins had been loaded at pitching rather position players, they easily could have gone another direction.
Along with last year’s draft, the Twins have made a conscious effort to upgrade their minor league pitching depth, both in quantity and quality. After long seemingly overvaluing pitchers with average fastballs but good control, they appear to have changed course and are filling their lower minors with power arms. Last year, they drafted a bunch of college relievers and are trying to convert some to starters. This year, they focused a bit more on guys were already are starters, but also added another couple guys that fit last year’s mold. This additional influx in pitching should start to even out the balance in pitching talent versus position player talent in the Twins system. And as ridiculously loaded as they are in the infield and outfield now in the minors, adding more depth at catcher seems to most reasonable place to focus outside of pitching. Obviously we should all hope that they were drafting approximately the best player available with each pick, but it’s hard to blame them if they gave a little more weight to guys who played positions of need.
This year’s draft was all about organizational depth and filling some holes in an otherwise stocked system. If this draft pans out as hoped, the Twins organization could have the type of balance and elite talent that championships are built around. Often, organizational depth is overlooked as people tend to focus only on the top talent. But as the Twins found in the 2000′s, it’s not always just the top talent that makes the difference between winning and losing. Every year, it seemed, someone was coming up from AAA or AA to fill a hole opened up by injury or poor performance and providing a spark to keep the Twins competitive. And most of the time, these weren’t guys who were considered elite prospects. In fact, The Twins only had probably 5 prospects in the entire 2000′s who could crack their current top 5.
How exciting is it to think that by this time next year, we might be saying that The Twins minor league pitching talent is on par with its position player talent? If that’s the case, they might just make the 2000′s look like a mediocre run of success.