Things will start changing pretty soon as the college baseball season gets going. The Baseball America that showed up in my mailbox Wednesday is built around their college preview, and includes a few early draft nuggets of interest to Twins fans.
BA, which does a top-notch job of reflecting the scouting consensus, says this year's draft field is nowhere near as impressive as last year's, which was regarded as very high quality. The falloff is largely in college talent. College talent, of course, is generally more developed and closer to major league ready than high school talent.
Five players entered February "separated from the rest of the pack." They are, as ranked by BA:
- Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford University
- Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake High, Calif.
- Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County High, Ga.
- Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State
- Mike Zunino, C, Florida
Again, I wouldn't get too wound up with that ranking. There's a lot of amateur baseball to be played between now and the draft. Somebody not in that list may well rise; some in that list may fall. All it means is that right now, those are the five guys the Twins -- who have the No. 2 overall pick -- are probably most focused on.
Minnesota, which also has a number of compensation picks from the departures of Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel, figures to have the highest bonus pool to draw upon, about $12.4 million. The bonus pool is a new complication to the draft; teams are allotted a certain amount of money to spend on their picks in the first 10 rounds, and there are some rigorous penalties for exceeding the pool amount.