Well, the fun part is over. The Twins selected 18 new players in today's amateur draft, and early indications look good (don't they always?). The Twins did pick a couple of the players that I thought they would, but as is the nature of the baseball draft, there were plenty of surprises as well. The Twins had more than their fair share of surprises, but I trust Terry Ryan, Mike Radcliff, and the Twins scouting department wholeheartedly. Here are the players the Twins selected today:
Rnd, (Overall), Player, Position, School
1 (20) Trevor Plouffe SS Crespi HS, Northridge, Calif.
1 (22) Glen Perkins LHP U. of Minnesota
1 (25) Kyle Waldrop RHP Farragut HS, Knoxville TN
1S (35) Matt Fox RHP U. of Central Florida
1S (39) Jay Rainville RHP Bishop Hendricken HS, Pawtucket, R.I.
2 (61) Anthony Swarzak RHP Nova HS, Ft. Lauderdale FL
3 (91) Eduardo Morlan RHP Coral Park HS, Miami
4 (121) Mark Robinson OF Mountain View HS, El Monte, Calif
5 (151) Jeff Schoenbachler LHP Reno (Nev.) HS
6 (181) Patrick Bryant RHP Pensacola Catholic HS, Gulf Breeze, Fla.
7 (211) John Williams LHP Middle Tennessee State U.
8 (241) Jay Sawatski LHP U. of Arkansas
9 (271) J.P. Martinez RHP U. of New Orleans
10 (301) Jeremy Pickrel OF Illinois State U.
11 (331) Kyle Aselton LHP Oregon State U.
12 (361) Shane Boyd RHP U. of Kentucky
13 (391) Walter Patton RHP Lincoln Land (Ill.) CC
14 (421) Javi Sanchez C U. of Notre Dame
15 (451) Juan Portes SS Malden, Mass.
16 (481) Matt Tolbert SS U. of Mississippi
17 (511) Eamon Portice RHP Ft. Lauderdale HS, Oakland Park, Fla.
18 (541) Josh Rose RHP Mariner HS, Cape Coral, Fla.
Plouffe and Perkins were expected picks for the Twins, although I was a tad surprised that they took Plouffe with their first pick. His stock must have risen substantially as draft day approached...Perkins was almost a forgone conclusion, so I'm glad to see he'll have a chance to play for his hometown team. The Waldrop pick at #25 was a big surprise, however; one of the biggest surprises of the entire first round. Waldrop, a 6'5" 200 lb. power righty, is considered to be a very tough sign, as he has committed to Vanderbilt. I hope the Twins make a good effort to sign him, but the odds don't sound good. Here's a quote from Waldrop that appears in Baseball America: "I'm going toward Vanderbilt unless something catches me off guard or blows me away. Unless I'm presented with an even better opportunity with the draft than (the experience) Vanderbilt offers, I'm looking forward to a good three or four years of college."
Matt Fox was a great pick at #35, as he's a college guy with good velocity (low-mid-90s) with command of four pitches. I like that the Twins at least tried to balance talent and performance by selecting both high school and college pitchers. Jay Rainville surprisingly dropped all the way down to #39, and Radcliff and the Twins were smart enough to snatch him up. You can read what I said about him in the Draft Preview below, and this sounds like a steal for the Twins. He'll take some time to develop, most assuredly, but the results could be very rewarding.
Other picks of note are Swarzak, who is also considered a tough sign, and Robinson, one of only 6 non-pitchers drafted by the Twins.
Many experts considered this to be a pretty weak overall draft, with the one strength being college pitching (the Big Three from Rice being prime examples). I even read that it wasn't necessarily a good thing to have multiple early picks this year, as the Twins did. However, I think the Twins have definitely made the best of the hand they were dealt. The organization will probably only sign about 12-15 of their drafted players, instead of the 20-30 they normally sign, so they can focus on signing their myriad higher selections. This is a great strategy, as the team only has a limited draft budget. Usually, teams use the draft to not only find new talent but to fill out their minor league teams. The Twins, thinking ahead, have already accomplished the latter objective and can therefore dedicate more money to signing their higher draft picks. I think you can see evidence of this mindset especially in the Waldrop and Swarzak picks. These are two guys who's draft positions were underestimated not because of talent, but because of signability. If the Twins make a good effort to sign these guys (i.e. give them more money than their draft positions would normally dictate) I think the Twins could potentially have 6 legitimate first-round draft choices this year. This is a great way to take advantage of having so many high picks in what is perceived as a weak year--draft guys who other teams are scared to take.
As usual, the Twins also took an absolute ton (7) of HS pitchers early, although they took a bunch of college pitchers (8) as well--but mostly in later rounds. In a draft thin on position players, this was a smart move, but the Twins always take a ton of pitchers every year. You can never have too many young arms that thrown in the 90s! The Twins were also smart to draft Plouffe and a few other shortstops. This is an organization that desperately needs infielders in the minor leagues, and this should help with that a lot. At first glance, I'm pretty pleased with Day One of the 2004 Draft, but we won't know how successful the Twins' front office was until at least 2008. That is a long time to wait, but such is the nature of the MLB Draft.
p.s. Sorry I took so long to post this draft recap...A couple things came up and I decided to wait until the draft was done for today. Rounds 18-50 are tomorrow, but I don't think we'll have any extra content about them, except for perhaps a quick profile about two MN HS pitchers that will possibly be drafted: Tim Radmacher (Rosemount) and Aaron Craig (Rochester Century). I had a chance to watch both of them pitch over the weekend so I may post some thoughts if the Twins happen draft either one.