COMMENTARY | In June 2012, the Minnesota Twins had one of the most important MLB drafts in team history. The team was languishing in last place for the second straight year while the farm system had few prospects in the upper levels.
The Twins needed to take advantage of picking second each round of the MLB draft, and, so far, many of the players taken have met and even exceeded expectations.
The Twins have been playing better in 2013 and the farm system is now one of the better ones in baseball thanks to the 2012 draft and trading Denard Span and Ben Revere for prospects. The Twins can really load up with another good draft when they pick fourth in the draft, which starts Thursday, June 6.
There are no guarantees, even when a team picks this high in the draft. However, the Twins picking this high each round should certainly improve their chances of success.
Minnesota Twins' Draft Position Might Not Be Ideal for 2013
The biggest problem the Twins face with their first pick is that there appears to be three players that stand out above the rest before the talent drops off in the first round. That's frustrating when your favorite team is picking fourth.
Of course, one year ago, Stanford pitcher Mark Appel and Byron Buxton were the consensus best players in the draft, with Appel being closer to being ready for the major leagues and Buxton having the most talent. So, of course, the Houston Astros took Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa instead and left the Twins with the choice between Appel and Buxton.
The Twins passed on Appel for Buxton and one year later might still get another chance to draft Appel, who did not sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates and went back to Stanford. The Astros again have the top pick this year, so it wouldn't be surprising if they pass on Appel again.
Appel is represented by Scott Boras, who has made a name for himself as an agent that is difficult to negotiate with. Appel fell all the way to the eighth pick in the 2012 draft, so it wouldn't be surprising if he fell to fourth in 2013. However, it is difficult to imagine the Twins not passing on Appel once again even though they could certainly use a starter with a power arm.
Minnesota Twins Love to Draft Toolsy Outfielders
Both "Baseball America" and MLB.com have Loganville (H.S.), Georgia, outfielder Clint Frazier as the fourth best player in the draft. The Twins did well last year in drafting a Georgia prep player in Buxton, and it would be the fourth time since 2007 that the Twins have taken a toolsy prep outfielder.
However, Jim Callis of "Baseball America" is predicting that the Twins will take Kohl Stewart, a right-handed pitcher from St. Pius X (Texas) High School. Drafting a prep pitcher would be very unusual for the Twins. They haven't picked a high school pitcher in the first round since Kyle Waldrop in 2004, and he was their third pick of the first round that year.
The Twins haven't picked a high school pitcher as their overall first pick of the draft since Dan Serafini in 1992. In fact, the best high school pitcher the Twins ever drafted in the first round was Todd Ritchie in 1990, so it wouldn't be surprising if they decide to avoid going this route despite Stewart's power arm.
Other concerns about Stewart are that he is a diabetic and he is committed to Texas A&M to play quarterback for the football team.
Minnesota Twins Need to Take Best Player Available
Callis has also mentioned the Twins could draft catcher Reese McGuire from Kentwood (Wash.) High School to try to save some first-round money for later picks. McGuire is ranked 10th on both lists. This would be a mistake.
The Twins need to take the best player available at this point in the draft. It's not often you get to draft this high. At least, you hope it's not often. The Twins need to go for the high-end talent instead of going for more depth.
Hoping to sign better players further down in the draft is too much of a gamble. Not only is it harder to predict the future of players later in the draft, you just don't know who will be available to you, either.
The only way drafting McGuire makes sense is if they truly believe he is as good or better than anyone else still available to draft. This seems unlikely given the rankings of other draft experts.
The Twins just need to stick to taking the best player available regardless of need, especially early in the draft. You just can't tell where your needs will be so far down the road.
Look at a year ago. The Twins took Buxton despite having center fielders Span and Revere in the majors; Joe Benson, a former second-round pick and Twins Minor League Player of the Year, in Class AAA; and Aaron Hicks in Class AA. In the year since Buxton's arrival, Span and Revere were traded away and Benson was released.
The Twins have done a good job the last several years at going after the best player and not looking at needs as much. Let's hope they stick with that.
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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