June 3, 2012; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Oklahoma Sooner pitcher Jonathan Gray (22) pitches against the Army Black Knights in the first inning in game three of the Charlottesville regional at Davenport Field. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Laferriere-USA TODAY Sports
As mentioned last week, Taylor, the Prospect Octopus is a huge fan of the MLB draft. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. All draft prospects basically become MLB prospects, at least at first. Plus, for some guys, their prospect shine will never be brighter than right after they are drafted. The Twins have the 4th overall pick in the 2013 draft, which will start on Thursday evening. Who are some of the players who the Twins may draft on Thursday? Let’s find out.
The “Big Three”
There is a consensus top 3 in this draft: Stanford starter Mark Appel, Oklahoma starter Jonathan Gray and University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant. For about a month leading up to the draft, it was a foregone conclusion that Appel and Gray would go 1-2 in some order, to Houston and Chicago. Then, the Rockies would take Bryant with the third pick because they can’t pass up his huge power. If this happens, the Twins will have the fourth pick in a three man draft. That would suck.
However, recent reports have come out stating that Houston might be looking at University of North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran. Moran is an excellent player, but not on the level of these other three. Houston could draft Moran, pay him less than his slot value (the new CBA assigns money values to each pick) and then use the money they save to sign other guys later in the draft. This can be sound strategy because some players (often high school) want more money than the slot where they are drafted. If a team has money saved from a previous pick, they can spend more than the slot without a penalty.
If Houston takes Moran, one of the “big three” could be waiting for the Twins. The Twins would probably pass on Bryant. He’s a third baseman now, but might ultimately end up in right field or at first base. If he is there and Gray and Appel are not, the Twins may opt to take a different pitcher (more on that in a bit). If Gray or Appel are available, the Twins would need to strongly consider either player. Each pitcher has great stuff and could be pitching in the MLB by next season. Both have hard fastballs and good secondary stuff. Appel has better command, but Gray is no slouch in that area.
However, Keith Law posted a Mock Draft where Moran went 1, Appel went 2 and Bryant went 3. He did not have the Twins taking Gray. Instead…
Law thinks the Twins are locked in on Kohl Stewart, a high school starting pitcher out of Tomball, Texas. First, he is a Texan, so he’s got #rig. Second, he’s 6′ 3″ and 190 lb. He’s got a big frame and could still add some size. He’s got a fastball that can hit 97 and hammer of a breaking ball. Some say he has the most upside of any pitcher in the entire draft, so it’s easy to see why the Twins could be enamored. He’s also committed to play quarterback at Texas A & M, so there is a nonzero chance that Stewart could spurn the Twins and head to college.
There are plenty of reasons to like Stewart and a few that would give anyone pause. Personally, if the “big three” are gone, then I think Stewart is a no-brainer. He may not reach his ceiling and he may not develop, but that can be said of anyone, including Appel and Gray. It is impossible to know what a pitcher will do as they progress. If the Twins are looking for the best player available, he’s the guy. However, if Gray is available and the Twins pass, I might question that decision.
If the Twins select McGuire in the first round, it will be done solely to save money. McGuire is not a top 4 player in this draft. As such, if the Twins draft him, he may take less money than his slot, and still sign with the team. Now, don’t freak out, they aren’t going to pocket the money, they’ll spend it later in the draft.
McGuire is a legit player though. He’s a high school catcher out of Washington. He’s good behind the plate, hits well and has power projection. He could turn into an extremely valuable player and if the Twins can successfully use the money they save on McGuire to get some great players later, then it would be a sound strategy.
This strategy is not without risk, as the Twins do not pick again until pick 43. It could be that all the guys they want to spend extra money on are simply gone by that time. If that happens, then the Twins will pocket the money and fans will not be pleased.
Others at 4?
June 18, 2012; Omaha, NE, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks pitcher Ryne Stanek (55) throws against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the second inning of game eight of the 2012 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
It’s possible that the Twins could look at a couple of other names with the fourth pick. Trey Ball is a two-way high school player out of Indiana. He’s tall, lanky and left-handed, so he gets compared to Chris Sale. Although, Sale was a finished product when he was drafted and Ball is just a child. If he can become Chris Sale, he’d be a great pick at four. If he flames out, the Twins may regret reaching for him, when many feel he is a borderline top ten pick.
There are a couple of college pitchers who might be in the mix. Braden Shipley is a right-hander out of the University of Nevada. Shipley was not considered a big time draft prospect prior to this season, but has emerged as a legit top ten talent. Ryne Stanek is a right-hander at the University of Arkansas. Stanek was right there with Appel as one of the best college arms in this draft, but his stock has slipped a tad. He’s still a likely top 10-15 pick though. Each guy throws hard and each looks projectable. Either guy would be a safer pick than Stewart, but do not have his upside. Either would be a fine pick though, and certainly would be MLB ready a bit sooner.
I won’t lie and tell you I have any clue who the Twins may be after in later rounds. Their recent draft strategy would point toward a lot of pitchers and likely a lot of college pitchers. If I were running the team, I’d try to nab a legit catching prospect (Chris Okey is my personal favorite) and at least one player who can handle shortstop. This is no easy task, but would certainly improve the overall farm system. From there, I just hope they keep taking the highest rated player on their board, each time the selection is theirs. I trust their scouts and their decision-makers, so I’ll let them make the ultimate decision.
Next week, there will be some brand new players in the Twins’ system. Taylor and I will present a new top 10 prospect list, to include the draftees and update with some guys who have improved or hurt their prospect stock. See you then!