Wednesday, February 29, 2012

High School Draft Prospect Roundup...

High school game recaps are proving more difficult to come by, but I was able to find some information on each of the guys I have been intrigued by.

Harvard-Westlake's Lucas Giolito has shown why he may be the first high school RHP ever taken first in the draft hitting 100 mph and striking out 8 in 6.1 in his last start. He only gave up one hit and walked no one, the Twins could be in a good position in that they can just take whichever pitcher Houston doesn't take at 1-1.

Byron Buxton of Appling County HS in GA. starts his season tomorrow 3/1 and will begin to make his case to be the first prep position player to be taken in this years draft.

Carroll HS, TX OF Courtney Hawkins and his team started out 1-0 this week and Hawkins even pitched an inning in the opening win.

RHP Luke Sims of Brookwood HS, GA gets started later today and we'll hopefully have his results next week.

Olympia HS, FL 1B/OF Jesse Winker led his team to a walk off win over Lake Howell to improve to 7-0. He followed that game up with a couple of hits against Edgewater.

Staying in the same region, Hagerty HS, FL RHP Zach Eflin started his season off with a short start, but had 6 k's in 3 innings. I think Eflin is a pitcher to keep an eye on as we head up to the draft. He could be a nice high reward pick in 2nd round if he doesn't improve his stock over the course of the spring.

Massive RHP Taylore Cherry of Butler HS, OH doesnt start his season until march 24th.

D.J. Davis of Stone HS, MS has shown his trademark plate discipline with a 3/1 BB/K ratio despite only going 2-7 in his first week. His full stats can be found here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

College draft prospect weekly recap...

This will be the debut post in what I hope to be a weekly column updating the performances and scouting reports on prospects I believe are/should be on the Twins radar. I hope to have a high school round up posted later this week, but for now let’s start with the college prospects.

Stats from Feb. 17th-26th

Mark Appel has dominated much of the Twins draft coverage so far this winter and rightfully so. In his most recent start, he turned in possibly his best career performance going 7+ innings while allowing only 1 run on 3 hits. He struck out a career high 10 and walked only 3 in a 7-2 win against #7 Texas. If he consistently has starts like this the rest of the spring, he will be all but a guarantee to go 1-1 in the draft.

Florida State outfielder James Ramsey had a fantastic first week hitting .563/.763/1.000 in 6 games against Hofstra, Jacksonville, and Florida International. The Twins took Ramsey in the 22nd round last year, and he turned down a 6 figure bonus offer from them to go back for his Sr. season. So far, he is carrying over his strong showing from the Cape this summer and looks poised to be taken at the latest in the early 2nd round. I had him as a good option for the Twins at #63, but if he continues to hit he may sneak into the supplemental round.

Brandon Kline of Virginia had a rough start to his transition from closer to starter lasting only 4+ innings and giving up 5 runs, though only 1 was earned, against Boston College. He rebounded with a better start this past week against Monmouth going 6.1 innings giving up 3 runs on 6 hits. He struck out 5 and walked 3. Kline given his size and stuff is an intriguing prospect who could go high in the supplemental round, and could be an option for the Twins at #32 if he looks like he can stick as a starter.

Oklahoma State Lefty Andrew Heaney was very good in his first start against Cal Poly, which I cover here. He was just as good, if not better, in his second start against Bowling Green. He went 7.1 giving up only 1 run while punching out 12. He did surrender 7 hits and 2 walks, but against the weaker competition was able to pitch around it. He has now struck out 22 in 14 innings, and is finally living up to some of his potential he showed coming out of high school. If he can keep it going into conference play, he may solidify his position as a supplemental round pick.

Arkansas closer Nolan Sanburn has only thrown 3 innings so far this year with a couple of k's, but mid-90's fastball and power breaking ball would be a welcome addition to a farm system lacking power arms. He would most likely be available when the Twins pick at #42.

Sanburn's teammate D.J. Baxendale, has started out well throwing 5 shutout innings against Villanova and 6.1 of three run ball against Valparaiso. He has 9 k's, 3 bb's, and has given up 9 hits in those 11 innings. As a command and control righty, he is the typical low ceiling, high floor pitcher the Twins love and he should be available when they pick at #72.

Brady Rogers of Arizona State opened his season with a good outing against Western Michigan striking out 7 over 6 shutout innings. He followed that up with 7 more shutout innings and 9 k's against Cal-Riverside. Despite averaging more than a K per inning so far Rodgers is not known as a strikeout pitcher, but more of a control artist with mediocre stuff. He should be available when the Twins pick at #63 or if he slides to #72.

Other names to watch:
University of Georgia lefty Alex Wood could move up draft boards this spring if he can show he has fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. Through 2 starts this season he has 12 k’s and only 1 bb in 12 innings.
Cal Bear’s 2B Tony Renda could fill the Twins quota this year for drafting a short, “gritty” middle infielder in every single draft.  He has started the year hitting .435/.552/.478 and currently profiles as a mid-2nd round pick.
Kyle Hansen of St. John’s offers a ton of projection with his 6’8” frame and mid-90’s fastball, but has yet to show strong secondary stuff or consistency. He has started the year with 16 k’s and 4 bb's in 10 innings, and also currently profiles as a mid to late 2nd round pick.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

One Domino Has Fallen

Well, it took all of two days for the first major injury of Twins’ spring training to impact the 2012 season. That’s even fast by the Twins’ 2011 standards. As most are now aware, Joel Zumaya’s MRI showed a torn ulnar collateral ligament and will be out for this season. I suppose it’s possible, maybe even likely, that he never throws an MLB pitch again.  For those of you playing Zumaya Injury Bingo, does UCL surgery give you the win?

The bigger question for me: Is it too early to worry about the depth of this team?

Words by the metric ton have been spent in the blogosphere, newspapers, and other media on the significant injuries that took a toll on the team last season. I won’t belabor the specifics. I’m sick of thinking about the huge number of games missed that – in part – led to the most disappointing Twins season in recent memory, maybe ever. For me, however, it’s not hard to think about this season as one whose outcome sits on a narrow precipice. I can’t help but wonder if we haven’t been set up by the past offseason and a long-term rebuilding plan to have another season of games that are hard to watch.

John Bonnes writes here about the gamble that Terry Ryan took in leaning on Zumaya alone to improve the bullpen. I think the Twins' took a similar stance by relying on less-than-solid players at most other positions.

First Base: Morneau’s recent history, and his Friday comments, throw a concussion-like fog of suspicion over his future. What is our backup plan at first? Admittedly, we have other players that can play first – Mauer among them. But if Morneau is not ready this season, our depth quickly becomes an issue when moving Mauer out from behind the plate or Doumit from DH.

Catcher: Even if Mauer isn’t out of the lineup, just moving him to another position means a large dropoff in production overall. Doumit was a good signing for the price, and I supported the move wholeheartedly, but I can not see Gardy using him as at catcher for large stretches of games. Know what that means? The Butt-era of so many hitting jokes would again be taking consistent cuts that make grandpa Jake Mauer cry in his Old Style.

Short Stop: Jamie Carrol is – like – way old, man. How’s Levi Michael looking? I'm really not bashing the signing of Carrol. I like the way a healthy Carrol fits into this lineup, but beyond him there is not much help for the middle infield. 

Center Field: Denard Span (AKA “the Spaniard”) is saying all the right things in coming back from bouts of concussion symptoms and vertigo. However, Twins fans have become all too familiar with the lingering nature of head injuries. If Span misses time, who moves to the leadoff spot? The most likely candidate is Ben Revere – if last year is any indication ­– but his .305 OBP in 478 plate appearances is slightly higher than Matt Tolbert’s career mark. This team isn’t designed to weather the loss of significant table setters, and Parker Haggeman wrote a nice piece on the 2011 Twins’ woes in getting on-base early in the order.

I hate to be pessimistic this early in the season. Especially when my blog-mate just sold some hope so recently. I do, however, think that the top-end of the Twins’ potential success hinges on a lot of healthy players who may or may not be so. One of them threw his last 2012 pitch on Friday.

Also, I’d like to apologize for the Matt Tolbert reference. That was just unnecessary today. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Keith Law's Top 50 and his thoughts on potential Twins Draft picks...

Keith Law of ESPN Scouts Inc. came out with the first edition of his Top 50 (Insider required) draft prospects, and had an interesting take that differed from just about every other site I have seen. The top player on his board was Georgia High School OF Byron Buxton, who I reviewed here, saying he has the “potential for five above-average or plus tools” and also echoing the comparisons to the Upton brothers I have heard elsewhere. Buxton does defiantly fit the Twins preferred draft mold as an athletic, toolsy high school OF and I think he is very  in the mix for them when they draft #2 if he were available.

More after the jump

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Calling Out (some) Twins Fans

So what’s a surefire way to make sure no one ever reads your new blog again? Well, why not call out some of the fan base for what I feel has been questionable, if not irrational behavior.
I was just as frustrated as every other fan with this past Twins season, but I still do not think it justifies the amount of vitriol I have read in various comment sections, newspapers, discussed with friends, and listened to on the radio. The two biggest issues everyone seems to have are the misconceptions that the Twins are cheap and that Joe Mauer is nothing more than a bad contract and a lazy, characterless disappointment.
First, I'll tackle the claim that the Twins are cheap.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

2012 Twins Personnel to Watch

And now for something a little different. My name is Jon, and Kyle, who normally writes here, asked me to lighten things up and write something every now and again on such varied topics as...
  • Baseball 
  • The Twins 
  • Life 
  • Baseball and life
  • Life, the Twins, and baseball
  • Blank verse poetry
I am a lifelong fan of the Twins and last year entered into a new phase of my fan-hood: following the team from afar. I am watching or listening, yelling at Pat Mears Lew Ford Matt Capps through the TV/computer, and writing from Anchorage, Alaska [insert moose/igloo/darkness joke here]. Having enjoyed reading so many great Twins blog entries over the years, I'm excited to join the fray (the cliche, not the band.) Let's get down to business. What's a Spring Training Twins blog without  a "Players to Watch" post? Rare. But let's not just limit it to players. 

Now presenting the official Armchair GM  Twins' Personnel to Watch 2012 Edition:
Matt Capps: the Twins trade for Capps involving top-prospect Wilson Ramos robbed the Twins worse than Venezuelan kidnappers (too soon?). But now it's 2012 and the second full season with the reliever affectionately known as "Star" Capps is beginning. Spring training means we are once again going to hear about how he pitched through injury last year, how it's really just a bunch of water weight, and how he kept asking for the ball and going out there. Some would point out that he was dreadful when doing so, but those are "glass is half empty" kind of people. 

Being a "who drank my beer" kind of person, I'm just glad that he hasn't started Justin Morneau on fire (fingers crossed). Just give him a chance to see what he can do in a contract year...what? Last year was a contract year too? JIMINIY-CHOCOLATE-SAUCE! Where is Mark Guthrie when you need him?

Wanda the Target Field Concessions Worker: She gave me free chicken fingers and fries once last year when the credit card reader malfunctioned and she couldn't be sure whether it charged my card or not. Turned out it didn't. It was a brilliant customer service move. Looking for another strong year from you Wanda!

Denard Span: Ever since he was called up in 2008, I have stridently--if unsuccessfully--tried to get the nickname "the Spaniard" to stick. Anyone who likes Gladiator should agree this is a super cool nickname. All my lame friends and even my wife have told me to stop mass texting "THE SPAN-IARD!!!!" when he makes any half decent play. They need to stop ignoring the facts. It's a sweet nickname. Don't be mad just because you didn't come up with it. This needs to happen. 

I'm also rooting for Denard to have a comeback year because the Twins really need him in center field. It seems like Morneau and Mauer have been hogging all the injury spotlight, and not without some cause, but Span's concussion worries me significantly. Without him tracking balls out there, we have Ben Revere and his slinky of an arm trying to hold AJ Pierzinski to triples with that weed whip. I may be selling his speed short here, but it's not ideal. Anyway, I genuinely like Span and want to see him do well enough for his nickname to catch on. 

Larry DiVito: No one was looking forward to Michael Cuddyer leaving more than the head Target Field groundskeeper. From game number 7 and on in the new park, there was a solid 3 square yards of turf out there in right field that he had to keep patching because Cuddyer stood in the same freakin' place inning after inning. Believe me. I've watched enough games from the first-baseline cheap seats to imagine Larry crying into the field drainage (way to go green) because his beautiful turf was disappearing in another of Cuddy's magic tricks. 

Joe Mauer: If you have read any of the StarTrib's comment sections from any off-season story having to do with Hometown Joe, you already know that Mauer is a no-talent whiner who is stealing money from this club by sitting out with his fake side-burn injuries. Now I'm not just saying this to try and get an invite to one of Theresa Mauer's ice cream sundae parties, but I say we give Joe another shot this year. Now, I know he has never played through pain or shown any desire to win at any point in his career, but I think there might be a good season left in him somewhere. Call me an optimist, but I won't be booing him on opening day. Hopefully a few people join me. 

Well that about does it for the initial/ possible final ever Armchair GM Personnel to watch column. Hope you found it informative. I know I did. Anyway, thanks goodness it's baseball season again. 

Never fear, Kyle will be back soon to update you on some high-school pitcher who won't see Triple A for 7 years. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Andrew Heaney, a possible draft pick at #42, first start results.

Heaney, who I gave a scouting report on here, started off his season last night as Oklahoma State's Friday night starter. While his OSU team was beaten 6-0 by Cal Poly, Heaney turned in a good start going 7 innings giving up only 2 runs (1 earned) while striking out 10 and walking 3. A good start for the enigmatic lefty who has been fairly inconsistent his first two years at OSU, and could really solidify his position in the top 50 of the draft with a solid spring. Lucas Giolito made his first start of the year today and I hope to have some more news on him up early next week.

Full stats on Heaney's start can be found here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

2012 Twins Draft Preview- #72

In finishing up my early preview of the Twins first 5 picks and their potential draft options, we take a look at who might be available at #72 this summer.

Taylore Cherry- RHP School: Butler HS, Vandalia, Ohio Ht: 6'9" Wt: 260

For those of you who were upset when the Twins traded former giant pitching prospect Loek Van Mil, here is a possible replacement for us to follow. Unlike Van Mil, Cherry has some polish and a pretty easy delivery for someone his size. He throws primarily a 2 seam fastball at 89-92 with heavy sink and has been clocked as high as 94. He also throws a loopy curve and a solid change up in the low 80's. He doesn't stay on top of the curve and with his low arm slot it has been suggested he try throwing a slider and see if that takes. If the change up keeps improving and his command and control continue to improve Cherry could be a solid mid-rotation work horse ala Justin Masterson.

Video Clip: Click Here

Video Analysis: He is physically imposing on the mound and does show a smooth delivery that he repeats well. His arm slot is very low, he struggles to stay on top of the ball, and doesn't show great command or control. If the Twins can have him raise the arm slot to a more true 3/4's, hopefully his command would improve and continue to do so as he matures. His curve did look pretty slurvish and he struggled to throw it inside. He did show a few good change ups to left-handers which leads me to belief he can stick as a starter with a huge platoon split in the pro's.

D.J Davis- OF B/T: L/R School: Stone HS, Wiggins, Miss. Ht: 6'0" Wt: 175

Davis' calling card is his speed, as it has been rated by scouts as 80 on the 20-80 scale. As a left-hander who gets out of the box quick, he is a player the Twins love-- much like Ben Revere. But like Revere, he is pretty raw as a baseball player, though he could grow into an above average CF and top of the order threat. He already shows good patience at the plate and looks to use his speed once he gets on base. Baseball America suggests he needs to make some mechanical adjustments at the plate, but he has the athleticism to do so.

Video Clip: N/A

Video Analysis: N/A

D.J. Baxendale- RHP School: Arkansas Ht: 6'2" Wt: 190

Much like Brady Rogers from ASU, Baxendale is an aggressive strike thrower with good control and command but only mediocre stuff. So, in other words, he is a typical Twins pitcher and draft pick like Kevin Slowey or Alex Wimmers. His fastball is 88-91 with some movement, and he pitches down in the zone with it, complimenting it with a good change up. Both his breaking balls rate as below average, though he did start throwing a cutter in the summer that helped keep hitters from squaring him up as consistently.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Quick update on Lucas Giolito a potential #2 pick in draft...

The Southern California Invitational at the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif was held last week and Giolito was one of the many high school prospects to participate. I thought I would share the thoughts of a couple notable scouts who saw him there, where they think he is, and what he needs to improve on going forward. Keith Law of ESPN Scouts Inc. said Giolito had the best fastball at the event and ,in a surprise to me, rated his change up above his breaking ball which he called a "low-80s slider" and not the hard curve I have read he throws. Law also said Giolito has struggled with his command and control most of the times Law has seen him, but still is the best high school arm in the draft class and just needs a solid spring, showing some improvement to make sure he is the first HS arm taken. Baseball America's Aaron Fitt said that Giolito looked "strong as usual, though he was not as electric as he often was this fall". Fitt also mentioned that Giolito didn't throw the "plus-plus curveball" that he was throwing in the fall that had a lot of scouts buzzing. (so maybe he does throw a curve but didnt show it because it is early in the year??). So it sounds like both scouts liked what he showed but were not blown away by Giolito's performance at the showcase, but it is still very early and a lot can change by draft day. If he can show improved command and control this spring as while as an improved slider or show the plus curveball he threw in the fall he could solidify his chances of being taken in the top 5 of the draft and possibly by the Twins at #2.

*one interesting note from Law who was answering a question in his comments page said that he believes Giolito's teammate Max Fried may end up higher on some draft boards then Giolito. So Fried is another possible name to keep an eye for on this spring. (Fried was rated the 14th best prospect by Baseball America and I will try to have a scouting report on him up in the next couple of days.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

2012 Twins Draft Preview- Pick #63

We finally get to the 2nd round of the draft after only 60 first round and compensation picks and who might be available for the Twins as they continue to try and add impact prospects to a farm system that really could use a jolt in the arm.

James Ramsey- OF B/T: L/R School: Florida State Ht: 6'0" W: 190

The Twins picked Ramsey in the 22nd round of the 2011 draft and apparently he turned down a pretty significant bonus offer to return to FSU for his Sr. season. Baseball America in their draft recap last year said that the Twins view Ramsey as a Jason Kipnis type of player and were very disappointed that they could not sign him. I would not be surprised if the Twins grab him again if he is available here as he is the player they love to have. He is a high baseball IQ, high energy player whose dad coaches high school baseball. He does not project to have a single plus tool but does grade out as average in all 5 categories. He mashed all summer on the Cape hitting .313/.448/.571 with more walks then k's. Since he doesn't have have great range it may be tough for him to hold down CF long term and with out massive power projection he may struggle to be more then a fourth outfielder but if he continues to hit and get on base he may be able to be an average regular in one of the corners.

Video Clip: N/A

Video Analysis: N/A

Zach Eflin- RHP School: Hagerty HS, Oviedo, Fla Ht: 6'5" Wt: 180

Eflin is another intriguing high school power arm who has a big frame and the potential for 3 solid pitches. He already works 90-93 with a fastball that shows good sink, something the Twins love their pitchers to use as it helps generate ground balls. His best secondary pitch is a circle change that mimics the movement he gets on his fastball but with a good 10 mph gap sitting at 80-83. He also throws a 12-6 curve that is inconsistent but shows some promise and could be above average in the future. His size offers some more projectability with a chance to increase his velocity as he fills out.

Video Clip: Click Here

Video Analysis: He stands tall through out his delivery and comes nearly straight over the top creating a good downhill plane. He could get more out of his lower half and lands slightly on the third base side of the mound causing him to throw across his body. He has a bit of a head snap and effort in his delivery which are not always good as they can indicate future arm troubles as snapping the head can put undue stress on the shoulder and neck.

Brady Rogers RHP School: Arizona State Ht: 6'2" Wt: 190

Again Rogers is exactly the type of pitcher who the Twins typically draft, a polished college pitcher who pounds the strike zone and who actually had the same amount of walks as he did wins (9) as a soph. at ASU. He controls and commands his fastball to both sides of the plate and usually sits in the 88-90 range. He supplements that with 3 average secondary pitches a curveball, slider, and a changeup. If he is available it will be a good test of the Twins commitment to bring in more power arms.

Video Clip: Click Here

Video Analysis: Rogers has a compact delivery and seems to get the most out of his smaller frame. I wouldn't call him a max effort guy but it also isn't the smoothest delivery ever. There isn't a lot of projection in his frame and he is going to have to live off his impressive control in the big leagues and probably has a Kevin Slowey type of ceiling as a solid #4 starter at best.

Friday, February 10, 2012

2012 Twins Draft Preview- Pick #42

After looking at the #2 & #32 picks in the upcoming draft, I wanted to look at a couple of players who could be available when the Twins select at #42.

Andrew Heaney- LHP School: Oklahoma State Ht: 6'2" Wt: 175

If any player in the top 100 fits the Twins profile for pitching it would be Heaney. He is a command/control lefty who gets people out by pounding the strike zone and changing speeds. His "fastball" usually sits in 88-90 range but has been up to 91-92 in shorter stints. He features a couple breaking balls including a a sharp curve that could be an above average pitch and also mixes in a change and cutter that help keep righthanders from teeing off on his below average fastball. He will change his arm slot and speeds to keep hitters off balance dropping almost to below a 3/4's slot against lefties. He still has room to fill out in his frame and is known to be a great teammate and a hard worker.

Video Clip: Click here

Video Analysis: Heaney is the first minute of the video and at first I thought that maybe he was just taking his warm ups really lightly. After seeing the little game footage Heaney needs some work with his mechanics. He is all arm and doesn't use his lower half at all leading to a lot of effort in his delivery. His arm slot is pretty low and would lead me to believe he would struggle to keep the ball down in the zone and stay on top of his breaking balls. If the Twins could get him to use his lower half he may even be able to add a couple of mph to his fastball and ease the wear and tear on his shoulder and arm. If not, I see him more then likely destined to be a Loogy as he would not be able to hold up to a full season workload as a starter or even middle relief.

Nolan Sanburn-RHP School: Arkansas Ht 6'1" Wt: 205

If Heaney fits the current Twins mantra of pitch to contact then Sanburn would fit the supposed new need for "Power Arms" I have heard Terry Ryan mention this offseason. Though he is currently a reliever some scouts believe he should be given the chance to start in the pros and the Twins have tried, albeit not successfully (see Carlos Gutierrez), to take College relievers and turn them into big league starters. Sanborn features a hard 91-94 mhp fastball that has reached 98 and basically tries to overpower hitters with it. In the Northwoods League this past summer he was used as a starter and was able to hold his velocity okay to give the belief that he could transition to the rotation. His secondary pitches need work but his 81-85 mph slider shows the potential to be a plus pitch. His Change-up needs work and the development of that pitch would indicate if he can stick in the rotation or would move to the bullpen. As a draft eligible sophomore he has age on his side and at worst he could develop into the Twins version of Drew Storen who was also taken as a soph out of college though Storen was a lot more highly regarded as a prospect.

Video Clip: N/A

Video Analysis: N/A

Jesse Winker- 1B/OF B/T: L/R School: Olympia HS, Orlando

Winker reminds me of Chris Parmalee a bit as a prospect and is projected to be one of the better high school bats in the draft. He doesn't fit the Twins preferred mold of an athletic outfielder but he can hit and has the potential for bit time power. Scouts say has a pretty left handed swing and generates power with his hips and torso. He gets good extension with his arms and should continue to show good bat speed as he grows. He is not supremely athletic and profiles as a LF or a 1B so the bat is going to have to blossom for him to be a impact player.

Video Clip: Click Here

Video Analysis: He shows a prototype lefty swing with good extension and hip rotation but he almost traps his hands behind his body leading to a longer swing and creating a small hole up and in. He would need to correct that keeping his hands even and not dropping them in the load and it is a fairly fixable hitch it just takes repetition.

Monday, February 6, 2012

2012 Twins Draft Preview- Pick #32

After letting Cuddyer walk the Twins gained the #32 pick in the draft and hopefully should be able to land another talented prospect to help reestablish the farm system. Below are 3 options I believe the Twins will be considering assuming a preferred option doesn't slide to them.

Brandon Kline - RHP School: Virgina Ht: 6'3" Wt: 190

Kline fits the Twins profile as a polished college arm but may have slightly more upside then previous draft options. He was the closer for the Cavaliers College World Series teams in 2011, but is expected to transition to the rotation this spring. He has a big projectable frame and features a hard fastball that usually sits 90-93 with a really good slider in the low 80's. It will be important to see if he can develop a feel for a change up while starting otherwise he may end up as a two pitch reliever. If he can show feel for a change up or something else to get lefthanders out and improve his control/command he could profile as a solid #3 starter in the majors similar to a Edwin Jackson.

Video Clip: Click Here

Video Analysis: Kline has a good amount of effort in his delivery and strides slightly towards third base causing him to throw across his body. He does repeat his delivery well and if the stride can be corrected his control/command should improve. It will be interesting to see how he handles a starters workload and how he performs this spring could cause him to move up or down in the draft.

Courtney Hawkins- OF B/T: R/R School: Carroll High Corpus Christi,TX Ht: 6'3" Wt: 210

Hawkins fits the Twins mold as an athletic high school outfielder with a strong arm and good speed. As he is already pretty large the chances of him staying in CF are zero but his arm and power would profile in right. His best tool is that power and he puts on big time power shows in BP and was one of only two players to homer in last years area code games. He has a really aggressive approach and its doesn't always benefit him as he is prone to expand the zone. He also had struggled against off speed stuff but has shown the ability to handle high velocity guys. He also pitches and shows a strong low 90's arm, with that and his batting profile I think his upside is 2009 Delmon Young but his downside is every other year of Delmon but hopefully with better defense.

Video Clip: Click Here

Video Analysis: He shows good leverage and strength in his swing but he gets onto his front foot too early and needs to let the ball get deeper in the hitting zone. I would have him widen his base a little more and try and remove that toe tap he is currently using as I can only think of a couple of major leaguers who can successfully hit that way.

Luke Sims- RHP School: Brookwood HS, Snellville, Ga. Ht: 6'2" Wt: 195

Sims is one of the better high schools arms in these years draft has a chance to be a steal this late in the draft if he doesn't improve his stock over the course of the spring. He doesn't have the prototypical frame but according to Baseball America repeats his delivery really well and gets good leverage from using his legs well. He offers the potential for three plus pitches with a fastball that sits 90-93, A very good curve in the high 70's, as well a potentially plus changup in the low 80's. He throws a lot of strikes which is obviously something the Twins love their pitchers to do. If he can keep developing his off speed stuff he has the potential to be a solid #3 start ala Scott Baker.

Video Clip: None Available

Video Analysis: N/A

Friday, February 3, 2012

2012 Twins Draft Preview- Part 1

With the Twins having so many top drafty picks I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at who should be available at each spot we draft in the top 100. Today I want to look at the top options for the #2 pick in the draft.

Mark Appel- SP - RHP School: Stanford Ht: 6'5" Wt: 190

Appel has a prototypical aces frame which allows him to get good leverage on his plus fastball and helps generate ground balls. His fastball typically sits 93-95 in games but has been clocked as high as 98 mph. He also features a potentially plus slider In the mid 80's. He has been developing a circle change that showed potential during his time with team USA in the summer. Despite his power repertoire he still tended to pitch to contact at Stanford only striking out 86 in 110 innings. His command of his pitches need to improve and as it does the strike outs should improve as he currently leaves to many pitches up in the zone. Appel has the potential to grow into a Justin Verlander type of Ace for the Twins if his command approves and he continues to improve his secondary pitches. If the change up doesn't improve and the command doesn't as well he may be pushed to the bullpen as a two pitch reliever and would probably be successful in that role but at the price tag of a #2 draft pick it would be considered a disappointing result.

Availability at #2: 50% I think it is going to tough for Houston to pass up on a fairly polished college arm who could move through the system quickly as they rebuild. If they do I would bet that the Twins would be happy to take their preferred college arm at #2.

Video clip: Click Here

Video analysis: He has a pretty clean delivery but I do think he tends to rush through it towards the end which results in some slight arm drag. If the Twins can smooth that out and get him a little more upright it could help him improve his command.

Lucas Giolito- SP - RHP School: Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif. Ht: 6'6" Wt: 230

A similar pitcher in terms of profile to Appel, Giolito has the big workhorse pitchers frame and the power pitchess to go with it. He also sits in the 93-95 range with his fastball and can run it into the upper 90's. He differs from Appel with his preferred breaking ball being a hard 11-5 curve that already looks like a plus offering in the low 80's. He offers a show me change up in the low to mid 80's but hasn't had the need for it against high school competition. He also has good, smooth mechanics which causes his fastball to jump on hitters and create the appearance that he is throwing even harder. He is signed to attend UCLA but the prospects of a 7 figure pay day plus the fact that he probably would not be able to improve his draft stock at all lead me to believe that he will sign.

Availability at #2: 50% No high school right hander has ever been selected #1 in the draft but the Astros are far enough from contending that drafting the younger right hander may be more appealing to them as they can let him develop with out the need to rush him. If he is available at #2 the Twins would have to break their mold of drafting more polished college pitchers and I don't know how the risk averse front office would feel about committing 6+ million dollars to a high schooler but I would hope their mantra of adding more power arms would over rule any doubts because Giolito has the ceiling of a dominant #1 or #2 starter in the Josh Beckett mold

Video Clip: Click here

Video Analysis: The first thing that jumped out to me is the smooth delivery and arm action Giolito has. He repeats the delivery really well in the video and that bodes well for future command and control. I noticed the video that he was able to throw his curve ball for a strike to either side of the plate which is a plus as well. The one change up I thought I saw looked a little rough out of his hand and hopefully with experience the release will be smoother. He does get good arm side run on his fast ball as well.

Byron Buxton- OF B/T: R/R - School: Appling County HS, Baxley, Ga. Ht: 6'2 Wt: 170

Buxton is the type of player the Twins love to take in their draft, a toolsy, athletic high schooler with excellent speed. He profiles as a CF with 70 grade speed and has thrown in the low 90's as a pitcher so his arm should profile as plus as well. He sounds alot like Aaron Hicks but may be a bit more advanced with the bat then Hicks was at the same age which gives a pretty good picture of how talented Buxton may be. Baseball America offers a comparison of a hybrid between the Upton Brothers which again shows just how much potential scouts see in him. He is committed to Georgia but again with the large bonus and the unlikely chance he would improve his draft position he should be fairly signable.

Availability at #2: 70% I think Houston is going to grab one of the pitchers above but if they decide to grab what is most likely the top bat in the draft I wouldn't be surprised. If the Astros grab Appel though, I think the chances are high that the Twins would grab Buxton at #2 given their affinity for his type of player. I think Buxton is more talented then the other players he follows in the organization and once he fills out could become a star RF with Juston Upton as a hopeful ceiling.

Video Clip: Click Here

Video Analysis: Buxton starts with an open stance and after seeing his swing I can definitely see the B.J. Upton comps as their set up and swings are similar. He loads with a slight bat wrap but makes up for it with explosive hands, he gets good torque keeping his hips and shoulder closed, and finishes with good extension on his swing which should help him drive balls as he gets older and fills out.

Deven Marrero SS B/T: R/R School: Arizona State Ht: 6'1" Wt: 180

Marrero is the top college bat in the draft and is said to be one of the most complete players in the draft profiling average or above tools in all 5 categories. He is known as one of the better defensive short stops in college and his reads and reactions lead most to believe that he will stick at short in pro ball. He also features a plus arm which allows him to make the throw from the deep hole. His bat profiles as a solid average hitter with good doubles power that could grow into average power as he continues to fill out. He hits well to all fields and shows a simple compact swing. He is not the fastest player but uses his speed extremely well on the basepaths and displays a high baseball IQ. He is known as a grinder and plays the game hard which the Twins obviously love in their middle infielders.

Availability at #2: 100% I dont think he has the ceiling to be a #1 draft pick and in most drafts would probably be in the back of the top 10 but with this being a top 5 heavy first round he could slid up to #2 in the draft if the Twins want to grab another high probability middle infielder to pair with Levi Michaels from last year.

Video Clip: Click here

Video Analysis: He has a pretty pronounced bat wrap (wrapping the bat around the head of the barrel is almost pointing at the Short Stop) and I would hope the Twins instructors would work with him to lesson that as it makes his swing longer then it needs to be. He does a good job in the video of keeping his hands inside the ball and does have a fairly compact swing despite the bat wrap. He could profile as a above average everday shortstop in the big leagues with a J.J. Hardy type of player with a little less power.

Mike Zunino- C - B/T: R/R School: Florida ht: 6'2" Wt: 215

He has proven himself as the top catching prospect in the draft by winning the SEC Conference player of the year and posting an impressive .371/.442./674 in his soph season. His prototypical catchers size and power bat would be a welcome addition to any lineup and has shown to be a solid defender but has needs to improve on catching more base stealers as he has only thrown out about 33% so far a number likely to go down as he faces better competition in pro ball. His coach praises his receiving ability and his leadership qualities which are both good things in a catcher. Baseball America compared him a slightly better version of top prospect Yasmini Grandal.

Availibility at #2: 100% I again dont think he has the ceiling the Astros new front office is looking for in their first draft so if the Twins wanted to grab Zunino in preparation for the eventual Mauer move from catcher  I could hardly blame them.

Video Clip: Click Here
Video Analysis:
A video of a late game home run off an all American closer certainly leads to a biased scouting report but in the at bat he shows good patients laying off a couple of pitches before hammering a pitch. After watching older videos it seems that he used hit with a slight arm bar which can make it harder for hitters to get around on quality fastballs. Hes got a short swing and showed good power even after the transition to the new bats last year.

So those are the 5 players I think the Twins are/will be targeting on when the pick 2nd in this years draft. If I were there GM and had everything unfold perfectly for me I think I would hope for Appel to slide to #2 and allow me to grab a potential frontline starter/power arm my origination sorely needs. If Appel is gone I think I would prefer to grab either Giolito or Buxton due to their high ceilings over the higher predictability of Marrero or Zunino.