It should come as no surprise that the Twins did the following things: they took the best player available with their first overall pick and they drafted a boat-load of college relievers. The Twins have done these two things pretty consistently over the last few drafts.
Personally, I love their draft strategy. Taking the best player available with the first pick is a great way to build a dynamic farm system. College relievers are the closest possible commodity to the Majors. Plus, while a bullpen is very important, spending a lot of money on a bullpen is a great way to bloat your payroll and get discrepant value. Having a lot of young arms ready for the bullpen is a really smart strategy, in my opinion.
Let’s meet a few of the players who the Twins drafted last week. I’ll highlight the eight most interesting guys that I see from the Twins’ 2014 draft.
Nick Gordon, SS – Round 1
There’s little reason to be upset with this selection. A true shortstop with good range and a strong arm is very hard to find. Gordon has all of that, and he could have enough power to provide bonus value at the most important position on the diamond. The ceiling that many have described for Gordon sounds a bit like Derek Jeter, although that is a completely unfair comparison. No matter what, the Twins picked up a talented player at a premium position. Gordon is a high school kid, but he has an advanced approach and a good baseball mind. While he won’t be in Minnesota anytime soon, he might get there sooner than the typical high school player.
Nick Burdi, RHP – Round 2
103. That’s not where Burdi was ranked, that’s how fast he can throw a baseball. While he obviously can’t consistently pump a 103 mph fastball, he does throw consistently hard and he has a ridiculous wipe-out slider. Unlike many college relievers drafted by the Twins in the past (and this year, more on that in a bit), Burdi will be a reliever all the way. Because of his college experience and his insane repertoire, many think that Burdi could be in the Majors as soon as next summer, if not even sooner. He has the look of a future closer and he could be pitching the 8th inning for the Twins as early as 2015.
Michael Cederoth, RHP – Round 3
Cederoth is another hard-throwing college reliever, but he might get a chance to transition to the rotation. He’s tall and wiry and he can hit 98 with his fastball. He throws a slider, change and curve, but none of those are consistent offerings. He had better success in the bullpen at San Diego State, but the Twins might try to see if he can develop a couple of those pitches and find success as a starter. If nothing else, it’s never a bad thing to have another hard-throwing, late-inning reliever making the league-minimum.
Sam Clay, LHP – Round 4
Clay is an interesting pick. I’m not sure if he has big upside or not. He only really started pitching as a freshman and he moved to the bullpen for Georgia Tech this season after two seasons as a starter. His fastball can hit the low-mid-90s (if that makes sense) and he has a nice hard slider. He doesn’t have a quality third pitch, which could explain why he had his most effective overall season as a reliever. However, the Twins have had success teaching the change to lefties and if Clay can develop that pitch, he could be an interesting player. If not, he could become a situational lefty. Of course, he also has two years of college eligibility left, so he may not sign at all.
John Curtiss, RHP – Round 6
Curtiss is my personal favorite of all the pitchers the Twins drafted this year. He’s got a fastball that touches mid-90s, a big frame and a power slider. He has pitched as a reliever, but it seems pretty certain that the Twins would try to help him develop a third pitch and move to the rotation. If he can develop a changeup, he could be special. He already had Tommy John surgery and he also had a rib removed as the result of thoracic outlet syndrome. According to MLB.com, he also graduated in three years from the University of Texas with a double major in English and history. Very cool, I like guys with multiple fun facts.
Max Murphy, OF – Round 9
Local boy alert! Murphy went to Bradley University, by way of Robbinsdale. He is a sociology major and I love sociology, so we can be friends. He’s also 5’11″ like me. His college is my name. This is getting freaky. Anyway, Murphy generates impressive power from his smallish frame and he has played center in college. He might be described as a gamer although the jury is still out on whether or not he can “go get it.” Bradley has already signed for a little less than his slot value, so he’s nice enough to help the team save money to sign more guys. What a great Minnesotan!
Tanner English , CF – Round 11
English holds the distinction of being my favorite position player drafted by the Twins in 2014. His profile reminds me a bit of Ben Revere, only with a more powerful arm. English might have the floor of a good 4th outfielder, which isn’t a bad thing, especially this late in the draft. His defense and speed are carrying tools and could propel him all the way to Minnesota one day. Those skills are valuable, even if his bat does not develop. If he can round into a good slap hitter, his speed could make him a Revere-type player.
Roberto Gonzalez, OF – Round 15
I pay close attention to prospects and potential draftees. However, I don’t know everyone and I can’t do enough research to find all the guys who others like. That said, Seth Stohs and Jeremy Nygaard of Twins Daily know just about everyone and they really like Gonzalez. You can read more about Gonzalez here, but what I have read is quite tantalizing. He’s raw, but he’s got mad tools. If the Twins can sign him, they’ll have an interesting project on their hands. Like a model airplane or something.
Who will emerge from this draft class? At this moment, I think it’s likely that Burdi will be the first to wear a Twins uniform, but Gordon obviously has the most upside and the biggest ceiling. Curtiss and English are my personal favorite picks, partially due to their talent but also due to where they were drafted. The Twins have always done a great job of getting draftees to the Majors, but it will be years before we can judge this draft as a whole. Next week, we’ll head back to the Twins’ Minor League affiliates to look at some recent player promotions and a handful of players who might need a promotion. Have a great week, everyone!