Twins poised to add to strong farm system
With No. 4 overall selection, Minnesota likely to get impact player early
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins already have a farm system that's lauded as one of the best in baseball, and now they'll have a chance to add to their Minor League talent with this year's First-Year Player Draft.
A year after having the No. 2 overall selection, the Twins will pick fourth this year by virtue of finishing with the fourth-worst record in the Majors last season.
And even though pitching remains the biggest organizational need, the Twins will pick the best player available, just like they did last year, when they took high school outfielder Byron Buxton, who has emerged as one of the game's top prospects.
"Our focus is to get the best player we can at pick No. 4," Twins vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff said. "There are good players in this Draft and we have to make sure we get one at No. 4. I've seen a lot of players, and I don't think it's a particularly strong Draft, quality-or quantity-wise, but I don't think it matters. We have to get some guys and take advantage with pick No. 4, and our picks after that as well."
The 2013 First-Year Player Draft will take place Thursday through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 73 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. Rounds 3-10 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m., and Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Unlike last year, when the Twins had five of the top 72 picks in the Draft, Minnesota only has one first-round pick this year before selecting again in the second round with the No. 43 overall pick.
The Twins also won't have the luxury of having a super prospect such as Buxton on the board, as this Draft doesn't feature any players quite like the five-tool Buxton.
"I don't think there's that type of talent in this Draft, i.e., a guy who can impact the game in so many different ways," Radcliff said. "Finding a player of his ilk will be difficult. But there are seven or eight really good players here who will probably be taken in the first seven or eight picks. So it's our job to try to find one who matches up and ends up being a productive Major League player for us."
The consensus top three players in the Draft, according to various reports, are Stanford University right-hander Mark Appel, University of Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray and University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant.
If any of those players slip out of the top three, the Twins could go with one of those college players. But they've also been linked to high school pitcher Kohl Stewart and high school catcher Reese McGuire, and Radcliff said the team isn't afraid to go the high school route.
"We aren't, but a lot of teams are," Radcliff said. "They think the high schools have a lot more risk to it. And on the surface, that's probably true. But it depends on the background and how many times you've seen him. We don't think we have to have years of information on a guy to have conviction in picking him. So, in our humble opinion, you can get as much conviction on a high school player as a college player."
Here's a glance at what the Twins have in store as the Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
With the No. 4 overall pick and three of the first 78 picks in the Draft, the Twins have a chance to add even more talent to an already impressive farm system that's regarded as one of the best in baseball.
"We don't get away from taking the [best available player] ever since Terry [Ryan] came over as scouting director, before he became general manager. So yeah, we need pitching in the big leagues, but this Draft won't impact the Major League team for years to come. Even though we need pitching now, two, three, five years later, we might need something else. So you just have to have conviction on who you like. And with the No. 4 pick, you have to take who you think the best potential Major League player is." -- Radcliff
The Twins have been heavily linked to Stewart, a high school right-hander from Texas. McGuire, a high school catcher from Washington, has also been mentioned as a possible selection if the club wants to save money for later picks under the new Draft slotting rules that went into effect last year. Radcliff said the Twins aren't opposed to reallocating funds for later picks, but he said it's tough to project who will still be on the board for their next pick. The Twins would also consider drafting Appel, Gray or Bryant if they slip out of the top three.
Twins' bonus pool
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
The Twins have $4.54 million available for their first pick and $1.29 million for their second pick. They also have $8.26 million total for their first 10 picks, which ranks as the seventh-most in the Majors.
There's no such thing as having too much power, so the Twins will be on the lookout for power arms and power bats throughout the Draft. But pitching still remains the biggest need for the organization.
The Twins loaded up on hard-throwing college arms in last year's Draft, taking Luke Bard, Mason Melotakis and J.T. Chargois. They have generally avoided high school pitchers in the first round, as last year's supplemental pick Jose Berrios remains the only one taken by the club in its first 50 picks dating back to 2005. But taking Stewart would buck that trend.
• Recent Draft History •
Buxton remains in Class A Cedar Rapids, but his stock couldn't be much higher, as he's hitting for power while also showing off his incredible speed on the bases and in center field. He's a candidate to be moved up to Class A Fort Myers in June. Kyle Gibson, the club's first-round pick from 2009, could see his first action in the Majors soon, as he's impressing at Triple-A Rochester after coming off Tommy John surgery.
Right-hander D.J. Baxendale fell to the Twins in the 10th round of last year's Draft because of velocity concerns, but he has excelled so far in the Minors. The right-hander posted a 1.10 ERA in nine starts with advanced Class A Fort Myers before being promoted to Double-A New Britain on Wednesday.
In The Show
Center fielder Aaron Hicks, the club's first-round pick in 2008, is the Twins' starting center fielder this year. He made the jump straight from Double-A and struggled in the early going, but he is showing signs of turning it around.
Twins' recent top picks
2012: Buxton, OF, Class A Cedar Rapids
2011: Levi Michael, SS, Class A Advanced Fort Myers
2010: Alex Wimmers, RHP, Injured (Tommy John surgery)
2009: Gibson, RHP, Triple-A Rochester
2008: Hicks, OF, Minnesota Twins