With the 1960s down, we continue redrafting each of the Minnesota Twins first round picks, moving into the 1970s.
The Minnesota Twins struggled with drafting during their first five years in Minnesota, with most of their first round picks turning into busts. Unfortunately, the team struggled even worse in the 1970s, with most of the picks in the top sixteen picks turning into busts.
We’re going to make a different pick for each of the picks that the team made in hopes of trying to improve them. Similar to our 1960s redrafting, there is only one rule: the player needs to have been available and signed in that draft year. Let’s get after it.
1970: Minnesota Twins select Bob Gorinski, SS, Mount Pleasant HS, 22nd Overall
The Twins started off their decade on the wrong foot with Bob Gorinski. Gorinski was a part of an awful first round that produced just two All-Stars, and Gorinski wasn’t one of them. The third to last pick in the round, Gorinski hit just .195 over 54 games in 1977, but would never make it back to the Majors.
1970 Redraft: Goose Gossage, P, (Real Pick: Round 9, Pick No. 198)
In such a bad draft, you have to reach a bit to find a player worth picking in the first round, but Rich “Goose” Gossage fits the bill. 25th All-Time in Saves, Gossage is the one true stud out of the six All-Stars taken in a historically bad draft.
1971: Minnesota Twins select Dale Soderholm, SS, Miami Coral Park HS, 21st Overall
The Twins were moved up one pick in the draft and did even worse than before. Dave Soderholm wasn’t any good, and though he did spend nine seasons playing in the minors, he never made the pros and definitely was not worth a first round pick.
1971 Redraft: Mike Schmidt, SS, Ohio University (Real Pick: Round 2, No. 30)
This draft had three Hall of Famers available, and with Jim Rice off the board, that leaves Mike Schmidt and George Brett. While I’m inclined to take Brett away from the Royals just to weaken a rival, Schmidt was the better slugger and defender, so he’s the choice here.
1972: Minnesota Twins select Dick Ruthven, RHP, Cal State University-Fresno, 8th Overall
You would think that if you were drafting a player in the Top 10 of the MLB draft, you would be able to sign them. That wasn’t the case for Dick Ruthven. Ruthven was a stud as CSUF, but he didn’t want to come to Minnesota and waited to be drafted by the Phillies first overall in the January-Second Phase Draft.
He actually went on to have a productive career that spanned fourteen years and earned him two All-Star nods, so Ruthven himself wasn’t the problem with the pick. The Twins’ failure to sign him to a deal was the issue.
1972 Redraft: Gary Carter, C, Sunny Hills HS (Real Pick: Round 3, No. 53)
This draft also had a pair of Hall of Famers: Gary Carter and Dennis Eckersley. As the Twins picked up Gossage in the 1970 draft, it makes more sense to grab Carter. Carter was an eleven-time All-Star catcher, and he can play several positions, so this is an easy choice for the Twins to make.
1973: Minnesota Twins select Eddie Bane, LHP, Arizona State University, 11th Overall
Eddie Bane played three seasons for a total of 44 games, but he couldn’t shake the injury bug throughout his MLB career. He actually had a decent four games in 1974, but again, those injuries keep him from even being considered in the eleventh slot.
1973 Redraft: Eddie Murray, 1B, California State University-Los Angeles (Real Pick: Round 3, Pick 63)
Robin Yount and Dave Winfield are probably the top two players in this draft, but they went 3rd and 4th in the draft respectively, so that means the Twins will have to look elsewhere for the best player available.
This brings us to Eddie Murray, the guy the Orioles landed in the third round who turned into a Hall of Famer. Murray was an absolutely excellent first baseman, and would be a great addition to an incredible team.
1974: Minnesota Twins select Ted Shipley, SS, Vanderbilt University, 14th Overall
Arguably the worst pick of this round, Ted Shipley stalled in AA as he struggled to hit for both power and average and was out of the minors after just three years. He wasn’t ready to handle the majors, so he definitely won’t be the pick here.
1974 Redraft: Rick Sutcliffe, RHP, Van Horn HS (Real Pick: Round 1, Pick 21)
The most successful player of the class in 1974 after the 14th pick is Lance Parrish, an eight-time All-Star and six-time Silver Slugger. Unfortunately, that would start to crowd a packed infield, as Parrish played the same position as Gary Carter and Eddie Murray.
So instead, we went with Rick Sutcliffe, the pitcher drafted seven picks after Shipley. Sutcliffe was the 1979 Rookie of the Year and the 1984 Cy Young award winner and would definitely be a boost to the rotation. Sutcliffe is a good get at this point.
1975: Minnesota Twins select Rick Sofield, SS, Morristown HS, 13th Overall
All 24 players in the first round of the draft failed to make an All-Star team, so Rick Sofield shouldn’t feel so bad. His 35 game first season was pretty decent, but he stunk it up after that forcing him out of the majors for good after just three years in 1981.
1975 Redraft: Andre Dawson, OF, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (Real Pick: Round 11, Pick 250)
This would be the greatest reach out of any of our picks thus far, as Andre Dawson was just a big guy from a small school in Florida. No one could have predicted he would become a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, an eight-time All-Star, and an eight-time Gold Glove Winner. Dawson dominated as a member of both the Expos and Cubs and is the clear best player available.
1976: Minnesota Twins select Jamie Allen, 3B, Davis HS, 10th Overall
Another top ten pick, another player who didn’t sign with the team. Jamie Allen wanted to attend Arizona State rather than go pro. It didn’t go as well as he hoped, as he was redrafted in1979 by the Mariners in the second round.
Allen struggled to stay healthy in the minors and in the majors, only playing an average of 88 games every season. Allen struggled to hit for power as well, and was out of baseball after 1985, having only played 86 games in the majors.
1976 Redraft: Rickey Henderson, OF, Oakland Technical HS (Real Pick: Round 4, Pick 96)
This draft was FULL of talent. Hall of Famers Alan Trammell, Rickey Henderson, Jack Morris, and Wade Boggs were all drafted and signed this year, while All-Stars Leon Durham, Mike Scioscia, Mike Scott, Rick Honeycutt and more all came out of this year.
With this much talent, this was a tough decision, but it came down to Henderson vs. Morris. Morris is the Minnesota boy who led the Twins to a title, but he signed here later any way. Landing the greatest base stealer of all-time is an excellent grab.
1977: Minnesota Twins select Paul Croft, OF, Morristown HS, 15th Overall
Yet another Twins draft pick to not make the Minnesota Twins’ major league team. Paul Croft never made it past Single-A and was out of the minors by 1983 following an extensive battle with injuries and ineffectiveness. We’re through to ’77 and the Twins haven’t had a reliable producer in the first round.
1977 Redraft: Ozzie Smith, SS, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Real Pick: Round 4, Pick 86)
A small player from a small university, Ozzie Smith turned into a giant figure in baseball. “The Wizard of Oz” is so well known for his defense that he won thirteen Gold Gloves, made fifteen All-Star teams, and is in the Hall of Fame. If the Twins could redo this pick, Ozzie is the easy choice.
1978: Minnesota Twins select Lenny Faedo, SS, Jefferson HS, 16th Overall
The only player to last in the majors for Minnesota, Lenny Faedo played five seasons as a reserve for the Twins from 1980 to 1984 before being released by the Twins. He signed with the Royals, but he never played a game for them, meaning his career was just as a little used reserve for the Twins.
1978 Redraft: Kent Hrbek, 1B, Bloomington Kennedy HS (Real Pick: Round 17, Pick 432)
All-Stars like Cal Ripken Jr., Steve Sax, Dave Stieb, and Ryne Sandberg were all drafted in 1978. With all those players, each would have been a great player drafted at sixteen. Instead, we went with another player drafted by the Twins, all the way in the 17th round: Kent Hrbek.
Sure, several of the above players had better careers, but Kent Hrbek was an All-Star and a fan-favorite. and the Twins would draft him earlier here. Plus, with Smith, Henderson, Dawson, and Sutcliffe already on board, bringing Hrbek back in the fold sixteen rounds earlier is awesome.
1979: Minnesota Twins select Kevin Brandt, OF, Nekoosa High School, 11th Overall
Yet another player who struggled in the minors. Kevin Brandt lasted just 47 games over only two seasons (including just 2 in the second season). Brandt got just 22 hits in 161 at-bats. Not a worthwhile pick, and one who wouldn’t even me drafted in an overall redraft. Woof.
1979 Redraft: Orel Hershiser, RHP, Bowling Green State University, (Real Pick: Round 17, Pick 440)
The Twins had a decent draft in 1979 after Kevin Brandt, picking up Randy Bush and Tim Laudner in the second and third round. This draft also had Don Mattingly and Orel Hershiser, so we’ll stick with Hershiser.
Orel won a Cy Young Award, a World Series MVP, an ALCS MVP, an NLCS MVP, and more while pitching for 18 years. That kind of reliability would certainly be nice for the Twins to have and would be a huge upgrade over Brandt.