Twins Draft Primer: Yet More Speculation

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Monday brings about the first round of the MLB Draft. The Twins recent woes have given them a litany of top 5 picks in recent years and they are widely regarded to have at least a top 3 farm system.

Around 70% of prospects drafted reach the major leagues. In itself, this statistic is useless as it does little to indicate the effectiveness this tenure may bring. The MLB draft is perhaps the most difficult draft to predict, as well as the hardest to evaluate. Many draft years do not lend themselves to thorough analysis, even 5 years after their draft year.

In recent years the Twins have taken Byron Buxton (no.2 2012), Kohl Stewart (no.4 2013) and Nick Gordon (no.5 2014) with top 5 picks. They also drafted a dearth of high impact, high quality ‘stuff’ relief arms in 2014. The Twins hold the No.6 pick on June 8th, a particularly important pick as they forfeited their 2nd round pick in signing Ervin ‘absentee’ Santana (who received a qualifying offer from the Braves). With this draft class being notoriously weak and preceding a highly anticipated 2016 draft class, it is as difficult as ever to predict who the Twins may end up with. Here are some of the top prospects the Twins have been linked with in recent weeks.

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The SS Trio
A trio of high quality SS prospects headlines the 2015 draft. Vanderbilt’s Dansby Swanson, LSU’s Alex Bregman and HS prospect Brendan Rodgers all touted to come off the board in the top 5. Despite taking Nick Gordon at No. 5 in 2014, if any of these prospects fell to the Twins I think they would snap them up. Baseball is the sport in which drafting for need makes the least sense. With how long it takes for prospects to make it to the league and the quality of those tenures being so hard to predict, Minnesota would not sniff at taking a SS for the second straight year. Don’t be surprised if all of them are gone by the time the Twins pick at 6, Bregman remains the prospect most likely to still be on the board for Minnesota.

Kolby Allard
Allard is a name who has been frequently connected with the Twins throughout the draft process. A slight HS lefty at 6’0 175lbs, Allard may have been a lock top 5 pick without injury concerns. He has been sitting recently due to a stress reaction in his back. Allard has a plus fastball that sits in the low to mid 90s, with movement, a good not great yet curve and has good control. He is also very young for his class, not turning 18 until August. Several mock drafts have the Twins taking Allard, who also fits an organizational need for starting pitching depth.

Dillon Tate
Tate is an interesting college righty out of UC Santa Barbara. Recent seasons have seen his velocity increase significantly. His fastball sits in the low to mid 90s but he can reach back for 98 if necessary. Tate also has a plus slider but has had consistency issues, particularly with his control and command. Tate has a solid ceiling as a big league No.2 starter, but may also be off the board by the time the Twins number is up.

The Outfielders
Tucker is a high school prospect out of Florida who also profiles as a top 10 pick. A lanky athlete at 6’4 and 175lbs, Tucker has potential plus hit and power tools. He is a solid, if unspectacular in the field and has a decent arm. Tucker projects as solid MLB right fielder

Daz Cameron is the son of former Mariners standout Mike Cameron. While not as spectacular in the field as his father (not many are) Cameron profiles as a solid MLB outfielder. Unfortunately he is attached to agent Scott Boras and is apparently seeking $6million, considerably above the Twins slot bonus for the No.6 pick.

Other Names to Keep an Eye on (in no particular order)

Walker Buehler – at 6’0 and 160lbs (is that even possible?) concerns linger over Buehler’s long term staying power over a long major league season. Even so, Buehler has a plus fastball, good curve and a decent slider and changeup, with the ability to consistently pound the strike zone.

Carson Fulmer – A righty from Vanderbilt, Fulmer has a plus fastball sitting in the mid-90s and a plus curve who may eventually move to the bullpen due to a violent and unsustainable delivery.

Tyler Jay – Jay is a 6’1 LHP out of Illinois. He has a plus fastball, plus power curve and plus control. The only think that has him not a lock as a top 5 is the fact that he pitched from the Illini bullpen this year, limiting scouts opportunity to assess him.

Mike Matuella – A big 6’7 righty out of Duke, Matuella was talked about as a No.1 pick last fall before he fell victim to arm troubles and eventual Tommy John surgery.

Brady Aiken – 2014 No.1 overall pick did not sign with the Astros after an injury concern was found. Aiken had Tommy John surgery in March.

The reason Matuella and Aiken were mentioned is that Terry Ryan was recently quoted as saying the Twins will not shy away from injury history in drafting their first round pick. It is far more likely that Matuella will be drafted in the 20s of round 1 and Aiken a little after that. The draft is even more difficult to predict than is usually the case in 2015. Most mock drafts have had the Twins drafting one of Tate, Allard or Bregman. Regardless of who they draft, the Twins should be able to add another quality prospect to an already loaded farm system.