COMMENTARY | The Minnesota Twins have the No. 4 pick in the MLB draft on June 6. Twins fans should be excited of the possibilities such a high pick brings.
Baseball isn't like the other major sports. It is extremely rare for a draft pick to have an immediate positive impact on a team. It usually takes years for even a first-round draft pick to make it to the major leagues and some don't ever make it. For example, of the 44 No. 4 picks taken prior to 2009, eight of them never made it to the major leagues.
However, a success rate of 80 percent to reach the majors is a good rate for baseball. And of course, Twins fans will not be happy if this year's No. 4 pick just gets to the major leagues and isn't some type of impact player.
The good news is that players taken at that spot have done pretty well. The top five players taken at No. 4 make a pretty impressive list.
Zimmerman has a chance to move up this list, but the Twins would be thrilled to have an all-around third baseman like Zimmerman. He actually made it to the majors in 2005 after just 67 games in the minors, but it is difficult to see the Twins moving anyone up that quickly. Zimmerman finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2006. Since then, he has received two Silver Slugger awards for the best hitter as a third baseman in the NL, a Gold Glove, and an All-Star Game appearance. He has batted .287/.354/.478 in over 1,000 career games.
4. Thurman Munson (1968, New York Yankees, Kent State)
Munson could have finished higher on this list and in the Hall of Fame if his career and life hadn't been tragically cut short by a plane crash. He made his debut in 1969 and was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1970. He was a seven-time all-star, won three Gold Gloves at catcher, and was the 1976 AL Most Valuable Player. He also led the Yankees to two World Series championships in 1977-78. He batted .292/.346/.410 in 1,423 career games.
Brown is the only starting pitcher on the list, which is what the Twins need more than anything. Brown made one start for the Rangers in 1986 and then four starts in 1988 before becoming a full-time member of the rotation in 1989. He was well-known for a funky delivery in which he would turn his back to the batter before delivering the pitch and for having one of the best sinkers in the game. He also was very durable, topping 200 innings in a season nine times, including once at the age of 38. Brown was a six-time all-star and twice led the NL in ERA and WHIP (walks and hits allowed per inning pitched). Brown went 211-144 with a 3.28 ERA in his career. He also won a World Series with the Florida Marlins in 1997.
2. Barry Larkin (1985, Cincinnati Reds, University of Michigan)
The Twins have needed a franchise shortstop for basically their entire existence. Right now, they would be happy if Pedro Florimon turns into a Greg Gagne clone. However, to get a shortstop that would be capable of winning nine Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves, and an MVP would transform the franchise. Larkin debuted in 1986 and was a 12-time all-star. He batted .295/.371/.444 in 2,180 games, including 2,085 as a shortstop. He led the Reds to a World Series championship in 1990 as well. He was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.
1. Dave Winfield (1973, San Diego Padres, University of Minnesota)
Winfield was a true five-tool talent that was actually drafted by four teams in three sports (basketball and football being the other two). He went straight from the University of Minnesota to the Padres once he signed his contract. At 6-foot-6, the St. Paul, Minn., native was an intimidating figure that could hit the ball as hard as anyone that has played the game. Many of his 465 career home runs were line drives that just kept rising as they left the ballpark. Winfield also won seven Gold Gloves as a right fielder with a cannon for a right arm. He went to 12 straight All-Star Games and won six Silver Sluggers. He finally got his World Series championship ring at the age of 40 with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992. Winfield finished his career with 3,110 hits and 1,833 RBIs. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001.
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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