COMMENTARY | The Minnesota Twins took Kohl Stewart, a right-handed starting pitcher from St. Pius X High School in Texas, in the first round of the MLB draft on Thursday, June 6, which might have been the least surprising pick in the first round. Given the Twins' draft history and their organizational needs, it shouldn't be surprising that the Twins went with a college starter in the second round.
That pitcher was Ryan Eades of LSU. Much like Stewart, Eades is a right-handed pitcher that throws in the low to mid 90s. He is 8-1 with a 2.81 ERA with 77 strikeouts and 30 walks in 96 innings. He'll get at least one more start this season when LSU takes on Oklahoma in the NCAA Super Regional. Eades is expected to start Saturday, June 8 (ESPN, 6 p.m. EDT).
His numbers were good but not dominant. However, he might be a player that can be better than he has shown in college.
Torn Labrum Allows Minnesota Twins Opportunity to Pick Ryan Eades in Second Round
This is because Eades had a torn labrum in his junior year of high school, which kept him from pitching for the rest of his junior season and all his senior season. Prior to that injury, Eades was considered a possible first-round draft pick as a pitcher after his sophomore season in high school, according to "Baseball America."
Eades was able to pitch his freshman year at LSU, so he's had three years of college ball plus a summer in the Cape Cod League to show that he is fully recovered from a surgery that is probably even harder to come back from than Tommy John surgery. He has steadily improved his ERA each season and saw a jump in his strikeout rate this season, which is the best statistic to use to look at a pitcher's raw stuff.
Minnesota Twins Undeterred by Kohl Stewart's Diabetes, Football Scholarship
Stewart also has some health concerns as he is a Type I diabetic. He has a scholarship to play quarterback at Texas A&M as well, however, it is doubtful the Twins would have drafted Stewart so high if they were concerned at all about his health or whether he's willing to sign with them.
Once he does sign by the July 12 deadline, he will most likely be placed with the Gulf Coast League Twins, much like pitching prospect Jose Berrios did last year after being drafted in the supplemental round of the 2012 MLB draft. This will put him a long ways away from the major leagues.
For example, if he progresses slowly but steadily one level each year, he would start the 2018 season in AAA and could be up in the majors that year or the next. If he dominates throughout, he could start 2016 in AAA if he moves up two levels each season after 2013.
Ryan Eades Could Start Higher, Get Promoted Quicker Than Kohl Stewart
Eades is an experienced college pitcher taken high in the draft, and the Twins have a history of promoting these types of pitchers quickly. For example, Kyle Gibson was the Twins' first-round pick in 2009 and he made three starts in Class AAA Rochester at the end of the 2010 season. He started 2011 in Rochester before eventually having to undergo Tommy John surgery, which is why he has yet to pitch for the Twins.
In 2010, the Twins drafted pitcher Alex Wimmers out of Ohio State and the Twins sent him directly to Ft. Myers as well. Of course, these pitchers were late first-round picks, while Eades is an early second-round pick.
A good comp for Eades is former Twins pitcher Scott Baker, who was taken in the second round in 2003 and was sent immediately to low-A Quad Cities. Baker advanced to Rochester at the end of 2004. Kevin Slowey also was a pitcher taken in the second round of the 2005 draft. He started in rookie league Elizabethton but was quickly promoted to Quad Cities. He began the 2007 season in Rochester.
So, Eades will probably start somewhere between Elizabethton and Ft. Myers, which will give him a nice head start. If he can recapture that first-round talent that he had before his labrum surgery, then the Twins could have an impact pitcher relatively quickly.
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.
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