Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Feeling a draft

The baseball draft begins Thursday evening (first round to air on MLB Network), and that is presumably the immediate focus of most if not all front offices, although the active participation of the general managers themselves should be pretty limited. Terry Ryan is known for his scouting expertise, but he's not traveling the country looking at high school kids.

The Twins draft 14th this year -- pretty much in the middle of the pack -- and there doesn't seem to be any genuine consensus about the top of the draft this year. A lot of names are said to be in play for the Phillies at No. 1, and there's a good chance that they will go a bit lower than the top of their draft board with 1-1 if they can strike a good bargain that will free up more pool money for tough signs later in the draft.

The lack of clarity at the top of the draft makes the mock draft game even dicier than usual, and I have no idea who the Twins are likely to wind up with out of the first round. The organization has an obvious need for catchers, but I don't expect the Twins to pop one on the first day. The top rated backstop is likely to be gone before the Twins pick, and the next best might be there when the Twins pick (twice) in the second round.

Picking for need in baseball is a silly proposition anyway; most picks are years away from helping the major league team. The Twins last year took a college reliever, Tyler Jay, with the sixth overall pick; he's in High A as a starter and thriving (2.44 ERA at Fort Myers with 55 strikeouts in 51-plus innings). The year before that, they took high school shortstop Nick Gordon; he's also thriving at Fort Myers. And the year before that they took high school righty Kohl Stewart, who just moved up from Fort Myers to Double A Chattanooga.

None of those three will see Target Field this year. So the fact that three members of the 2012 draft -- Byron Buxton, J.O. Berrios and Taylor Rogers -- have been on the major league roster so far this year is worthy of notice.

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