COMMENTARY | The Minnesota Twins came into the 2012 MLB draft in June knowing how important a good draft would be for the struggling franchise. The Twins were coming off a dismal 2011 in which the team lost 99 games after winning the AL Central Division in 2010.
The fans were despairing even more at the end of May 2012 when the Twins got off to an 18-32 start and were in last place after the first two months of the season. The bad play of the Twins in 2011 did give them a great position in the 2012 draft, but the Twins needed to take advantage of not only having the No. 2 overall pick, but also having 6 of the first 97 picks thanks to getting several supplemental picks after losing free agents Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel.
One year later, the draft class appears to be a success, but it's still too early to say for sure. However, the play of many of those draft picks has been very encouraging.
Rd 1 (No. 2 overall): Byron Buxton, Appling County HS, Baxley, Ga.
Buxton was considered by most to be the best talent in the draft, and the center fielder has not disappointed. After hitting .248/.344/.448 in his first professional season between two short-season rookie leagues, Buxton moved up to low-A Cedar Rapids for 2013 and hit .333/.435/.545 with an excellent 40/36 strikeout-to-walk ratio through Sunday, June 2. He also is considered an excellent defender with elite speed and an arm that can throw fastballs in the high 90s. He won't turn 20 years old until December.
Supplemental Rd (32): Jose Berrios, Papa Juan HS, Bayamon, Puerto Rico
The Twins under general manager Terry Ryan have consistently gone for college pitchers with good control that usually move fairly quickly through the minor leagues but are rarely dominant. Berrios was a switch in that he is a power pitcher out of high school. So far, he has followed the same path as Buxton, pitching in two short-season rookie leagues in 2012, where he had a 1.17 ERA, a 0.64 WHIP (walks and hits allowed per inning pitched), and an incredible 49/4 K/BB ratio in just 30 2/3 innings. He was promoted to Cedar Rapids for 2013, and had a 2.54 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP and a 44/8 K/BB ratio in 39 innings.
Supplemental Rd (42): Luke Bard, Georgia Tech
Bard was the first of a number of college relievers with power arms drafted by the Twins in 2012. The Twins gambled that some of them will be able to transition to a starting pitcher, while those who don't could move quickly to the majors as a reliever. So far, Bard has made only one professional start in eight outings in 2012 and pitched only seven innings. Bard has been in extended spring training and will hopefully be with the Elizabethton Twins when the short-season rookie league team begins its season on June 20. Bard was ranked the Twins' 10th best prospect by "Baseball America" in November.
Rd 2 (63) Mason Melotakis, Northwestern State
Melotakis is another reliever with a power arm. Between Elizabethton and low-A Beloit in 2012, the left-hander had a 1.88 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and a 34/6 K/BB ratio in 24 relief innings. Melotakis was moved to the rotation at Cedar Rapids in 2013 and has a 3.69 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, and a 40/20 K/BB ratio in 46 1/3 innings.
Rd 2 (72): J.T. Chargois, Rice
Chargois was another college reliever and will follow Bard in returning to Elizabethton. He pitched just 16 innings, all in relief for Elizabethton last year.
Rd 3 (97) Adam Walker, Jacksonville University
The right-handed right fielder was hitting .274/.324/.538 with 10 home runs in 52 games for Cedar Rapids after hitting .250/.310/.496 with 14 home runs in 58 games for Elizabethton in 2012.
Zach Jones (Rd 4), is a reliever out of San Jose State that is averaging 13.5 K/9 in 34 career games. "Baseball America" rates his fastball as the best in the organization. … Tyler Duffy (Rd. 5) was a teammate of Chargois at Rice and pitched seven perfect innings in his first start for Cedar Rapids in 2013. He has a 2.78 ERA in nine starts. … D.J. Baxendale (Rd. 10) went 7-0 with a 1.10 ERA for high-A Ft. Myers before being roughed up in his first start at Class AA New Britain. He was the first player in the draft to make it to New Britain or higher. … Taylor Rogers (Rd. 11) had a 1.32 ERA in 41 innings for Ft. Myers in 2013.
Darin McGilvra has been a professional sportswriter since 1997 and has been a Twins follower since Kirby Puckett's breakout season of 1986. He has been published in The Californian, a newspaper covering Riverside County, and numerous other websites.
Follow Darin on Twitter at @SoCalTwinsfan.
More from this author:Minnesota Twins Finally Living Up to Their Power Potential
- Sports & Recreation