2013 MLB Draft: Top 5 Targets for the Minnesota Twins
2013 MLB Draft: Top 5 Targets for the Minnesota Twins
Today is the day that baseball fans and analysts have been waiting for: the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. For the Minnesota Twins the action will get underway at pick number four, their first selection of the evening. With the success of last year’s draftee Byron Buxton with the number two overall pick, a lot of pressure is being put on the Twins to duplicate last year’s success and add another impact player with the fourth overall pick. As I talked about in my previous article about the five biggest draft busts in Twins’ history—which can be accessed by clicking here—the Twins have had their fair share of busts with their top selection in the draft. The Twins have done a good job, as of late, drafting talent to replenish a depleted farm system and all of their work has merited the Twins being named the second best farm system in all of baseball. In addition, Buxton was also named the number two prospect in all of baseball by ESPN’s Keith Law; so there definitely is talent being accumulated at the minor league level, now it’s time to translate that success to the majors. As the Twins head into the 2013 draft, they still have some of the same needs that they had going into last year’s draft. There will always be a debate as to whether or not the team should draft the best available player or draft for need—which I discussed in a recent article which you can access here—but the Twins have subscribed to taking the best player available and that is what you can expect with the number four pick. No matter who has been taken before the Twins’ pick, they will have a chance to add a very good player at number four. The area that people expect the Twins to continue to address in this year’s draft is pitching, based off the struggles of the rotation at the majors this season; but will a pitcher be the best player available at number four? I have compiled a list of the top five players the Twins are targeting with the number four pick and I have ranked the number one player on this list as the person who, I believe, will be the Twins selection tonight.
5. Reese McGuire
McGuire is a talented left-handed hitting high school catcher whose strength is based in his defense which some scouts believe to be Major League ready right now; however, McGuire lacks the offensive skills and maturity to be Major League ready and will need several years at the minor leagues to develop those skills. He has been projected to go anywhere in the draft from among the top five overall selections to even as low as 20th overall. The Twins are said to have big interest in McGuire for a reason outside of his many talents and skills: they could sign him to a cheaper deal and use that leftover and saved money for a more expensive draft choice later in the draft. While I believe this to be a flawed idea with disaster written all over it, I only endorse drafting McGuire if the Twins believe he is the best player available. With the fourth overall pick, you cannot miss on adding an impact player—especially on a rebuilding organization—just to save a few dollars. McGuire has been compared to an A.J. Pierzynski type hitter with Yadier Molina’s glove, which would be a very good player at the majors for many years, but I am not sure if that’s worth the number four overall pick if other pitchers are still available.
4. Clint Frazier
I know, I know, the Twins drafted an outfielder with their first-round pick last year and don’t really need another outfielder, but they could be tempted to grab one if they believe Frazier is the best available player when they select number four and he very well could be. Frazier is a high school outfielder from Georgia and is widely considered to have the best bat speed in the entire draft. This allows him to have very good raw power and many analysts believe Frazier has a lot of room to add muscle to his 5’11 frame that could make him a very good power hitter for a team down the road. Defensively there are some questions about where he will play in the outfield, but my feeling is that he will shift to a corner outfield spot because of his arm strength and developing ability to track down fly-balls. Offensively, we know Frazier has one of the best bat speeds and raw power in the draft, but one flaw in his game has been pitch recognition. He can hit fastballs and hanging breaking balls with the best of them, but pitchers have been able to get him out with below average breaking pitches which doesn’t bode well for Frazier in the majors. Obviously this is an area Frazier will need to improve on, but there is room for growth and potential with Frazier which may tempt the Twins to take him fourth overall.
3. Kohl Stewart
Many draft experts have pegged Stewart as a likely target for the Twins at number four, but I am not sold on Stewart to the Twins as much as other analysts are. Stewart is widely considered the top high school pitcher in the nation, but is also one of the top high-school quarterback in the nation and is committed to Texas A&M. There has been rumors that if Stewart doesn’t get drafted in a place he likes, he may opt to go to college and Texas A&M to join “Johnny Football” and the Aggies baseball team and that alone has to be enough to scare away a few potential teams. I don’t believe Stewart would be thrilled to be coming to Minnesota and that is why I believe the Twins should proceed with caution when drafting Stewart. Pitching wise, Stewart displays a mid-90s fastball and a mid-80s slider that has “plus pitch” written all over it. He’s been working on developing a low-80s curveball and a change-up as well, but both pitches are considered works in progress as of now. It is reported that Baseball America claimed that Stewart's pure stuff is as good as Mark Appel’s and Jonathan Gray’s, the projected top two pitchers in this year’s draft. Could this potential be enough to intrigue the Twins at number four? Possibly; but again, I worry about the football aspect of Stewart’s career and I believe he may have Travis Lee—a player drafted who never played a game for the Twins—written all over him.
2. Jonathan Gray
The only reason the Twins would have a shot at Gray would be if Houston and Chicago passed on the talented right-hander out of Oklahoma with the first two selections in the draft. If he were to slide to number four, it would be a no-brainer decision for the Twins to lock up one of the most talented pitchers in this draft and one who may be ready to pitch in the majors the soonest. Gray’s draft stock has taken a media hit over the past few days after it was reported that Gray tested positive for a banned substance—Adderall—but his test should not hinder a team’s decision to draft him tonight. As I have mentioned before when describing Gray, Gray has the size—6’4, 240 lbs—smooth delivery, high velocity on his fastball—which averages around 94-95 mph—and two solid complementary pitches in his slider and change-up which makes him an ideal candidate for the Twins to plug into their future rotation. Gray has the ability to become a legitimate number one or number two starter in any rotation and would be a great value pick for the Twins if he falls to number four. I believe the Twins wouldn’t be scared off by a miniscule and unimportant failure of a banned substance and won’t miss out on a talented front-of-the-rotation type of pitcher if Gray is available at number four.
1. Kris Bryant
Bryant is who I believe the Twins have been targeting all along and who they are hoping to take with their fourth overall selection. Bryant, a 6’5 215 lbs. third basemen, has all of the tools to be a premier power hitting third basemen and perennial All-Star in this league. In his senior year at San Diego, Bryant hit an impressive 30 homeruns which opened a lot of eyes to how impressive and developed of a hitter Bryant was already. For his three year career at San Diego, Bryant hit a combined 54 homeruns. Because of his homerun potential every time he steps up to the plate, Bryant also drew a high number of walks, 62, during his senior season. Defensively, Bryant has made steady progress during his time in college. He is more agile than most people believe and he moves to his right extremely well, but teams will be drafting Bryant for his bat, not his glove. The Twins will be that team that gets Bryant, ultimately, on Thursday night. Colorado is said to have interest in Bryant at number three; but if Houston chooses Colin Moran number one, Colorado will have both Appel and Gray available to them at number three, which may be too good to pass up. All in all, it will be an interesting evening tonight so make sure to tune in at 7 P.M EST on MLB Network for the live coverage.