Monday, September 5, 2011

Seven years in the making

Kyle Waldrop is
likely to make his
major-league debut
in today's doubleheader.
Take this as a fresh lesson in how long it takes to judge a baseball amateur draft:

It wasn't that long ago that it appeared the Twins had utterly wasted their 2004 windfall of high-round draft picks. Today, it is possible that the 2012 team will have a regular middle infielder and about half of its bullpen as a result of that draft. Or maybe not.

The Twins had three first round selections that year. Trevor Plouffe — who, Sunday's brain fart notwithstanding, has been quite good in this third 2011 callup — was the first man the Twins selected that year, 20th overall. Glen Perkins came two picks later (22nd). Kyle Waldrop, who is being added to the major league roster today, was the 25th pick. (One of those picks came from the Cubs, who surrendered it for signing LaTroy Hawkins; another came from the Mariners, who had signed Eddie Guardado.)

Then their two "sandwich round" picks, again compensation for losing the Hawk and Everyday Eddie: Matt Fox and Jay Rainville. Fox pitched in one memorable game for the Twins and pitched this year in the Red Sox chain. Rainville is out of baseball.

The Twins picked up Anthony Swarzak in the second round.

It certainly could have had a more productive draft; Dustin Pedroia, for example, was drafted in the second round a few picks after Swarzak. It also could have been a lot worse; only 14 of the 30 players taken in the second round have even appeared in the majors to this point.

That draft hasn't helped the Twins a lot. I doubt they drafted Perkins, Waldrop, Fox, Rainville and Swarzak with the idea that they would wind up with a handful of middle relievers, but that appears their destiny.  They certainly drafted Plouffe with the idea that he'd become the starting shortstop, but he hasn't grabbed the job yet.

Perkins could inherit the closer's role. Perhaps Swarzak will emerge with a rotation berth. Maybe Plouffe will seize the shortstop's job after all. Waldrop has a chance to claim a bullpen spot.

Seven years out, and the Twins still have hope from that draft. Hope, but not a lot of accomplishment.

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