Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Twins win (Tuesday night) and draft Gibson

10-5, Twins, despite a lousy mop-up job in the ninth inning, when Scott Baker, Jesse Crain and Jose Mijares wouldn't or couldn't throw strikes and Alexi Casilla couldn't pick up a ground ball. Mijares in particular — six strikes, nine balls.

Don't let the box score line fool you: Delmon Young had an RBI single and an RBI double, but the single didn't leave the infield and the double — just his third extra base hit of the season — was a soft-hit blooper down the right field line. In other words, he wasn't stinging the ball.

Scott Baker had his third quality start in his last four outings, but two of them — this one and his previous start against Cleveland — came against teams that are having trouble scoring runs.

Now, on to the first day of the Twins draft: The pitcher in the picture is Kyle Gibson of Missouri. The Twins landed him with the 22nd pick after he dropped out of the Top 10 — possibly top five — with what is reported to be a stress fracture in his forearm.

Baseball America had regarded him as the "safest" pick among pitchers, including the much-hyped Stephen Strasburg: He relies on two-seam fastballs rather than four-seamers, usually pitching at 88-91 mph with good sink and tailing action, though he can reach back for 94 mph when needed. He has two of the better secondary pitches in the draft, a crisp 82-85 mph slider and a deceptive changeup with fade that can generate swings and misses.

Then came a sudden loss of velocity and the report on Monday of a stress fracture. He may not pitch again this summer, but considering his collegiate workload, that might have been the plan anyway. Certainly without the injury, he wouldn't have made it to the Twins.

The Twins followed this pick with three more collegiate pitchers: LHP Matt Bashore of Indiana with the supplemental pick for losing Dennys Reyes; RHP Billy Bullock of Florida in the second round; and RHP Ben Tootle of Jacksonville State. All three are said to have power arms, particularly Bullock and Tootle, and fastball velocity is something the organization was out to emphasize after a few years of drafting toolsy outfielders and command specialists early.

Warning, however: Gibson, Bashore and Tootle all slipped because of injury/illness concerns.

Bullock was most successful in college out of the bullpen, and Tootle is seen as a relief pitcher also.

The draft continues today.

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