Twins have 20th pick in draft; Torii Hunter and Denard Span were taken at that spot
Some free advice for Derek Falvey: Take a center fielder.
The Twins have pick No. 20 in Mondays first round of the amateur draft, and its the seventh time theyll choose from that spot. Theyve never chosen from another specific spot more than four times, so this is a weird habit.
Its a pretty successful one, though. No, they never took a pitcher who may make the Hall of Fame, like elite No. 20s Mike Mussina (1990 by Baltimore) or C.C. Sabathia (1998 by Cleveland). But if you rank (by career Wins Above Replacement) the 53 players chosen 20th since the draft began in 1965, the Twins have taken three of the top 10 (and traded for a fourth, Eric Milton). Trevor Plouffe, picked 20th in 2004, hit 96 homers in seven seasons with Minnesota. Eric Milton, chosen at 20 in 1996 by the Yankees but traded to the Twins as a minor leaguer in the Chuck Knoblauch trade, won 41 games in a three-year span with the Twins and made an All-Star team.
And the Twins hit the jackpot at No. 20 in 1993 and 2002, when they chose a couple of center fielders who manned the position for 17 seasons between them: Torii Hunter and Denard Span.
Sure, there have been misfires, too. Chris Parmelee, No. 20 in 2006, played parts of four seasons and had more strikeouts than hits, but at least he made the major leagues. The same cant be said for 20th-pick mistakes Bob Jones in 1966 or Johnny Ard in 1988.
Falvey, the Twins chief baseball officer, wont say who the Twins will take 20th this year, mostly because he has no idea. When youre picking past the top five picks, its really hard to know, Falvey said. My understanding of this years draft is that it might be even harder to know, because it seems like there are a few guys up at the top that you feel pretty good about going early, but after that, it gets unclear who goes next.
The Twins scouting staff has been in Minneapolis for a week, sharing evaluations, trying to divine the intentions of teams picking ahead of them, and ranking the prospects.
Theyve compiled their own mock drafts a couple of times already, scenario planning, Falvey said, for reacting to what happens in the first 19 picks. Well say, assume the board goes this way these five guys go off, these are the three players available to us, Falvey said. Are we good what who well select there? Do we have the order right?
There are plenty of opinions about that, of course, including several from outside experts who have compiled their own scouting reports. Baseball America, for instance, expects the Twins to select lefthanded pitcher Ryan Rolison of Mississippi, saying he has been solid more than spectacular, but college lefties get taken high. The Twins know thats true they chose lefty Tyler Jay from Illinois in 2015 with the sixth overall pick.
MLB.coms mock draft has Rolison taken eight picks before the Twins, and asserts that Minnesota will chose a righthander, Logan Gilbert of Stetson, noting that his velocity is starting to tick back up.
ESPN.coms draft board agrees with the Rolison pick, saying he came into the year as a top-10 possibility, and while his results havent backed that up, his stuff has. A decent showing at the SEC Tournament [which Ole Miss won with Rolison pitching two hitless innings in the championship game] likely helped his stock.
Falvey said the Twins wont be picking based on what their current team needs, or what they feel is a weakness of their farm system. Give them the best player available, he said. When we were picking No. 1 [last June], there was a lot of conversation [about] pitching vs. hitting. But those players impact is so many years away, that planning for need, based on the amateur draft, can lead you down the wrong path, he said.
But the Twins will definitely use every tool they can to find the right player including some fancy new hardware. The days of stenciling each players name on a magnet and keeping them on a giant metal board are over.
Weve installed a big electronic board in there, with matched screens that allow for a video wall. It fits well for what we need, Falvey bragged. A lot was made of the fact that the Vikings have one [at their new headquarters in Eagan]. Ours is bigger.