Thursday, June 7, 2012

Draft: Final thoughts

The Twins had 43 picks in the 40 rounds of the 2012 amateur draft. They took, according to Jordan Garretson of, 30 collegians and 13 high schoolers -- 24 pitchers, nine outfielders, six catchers and just four infielders.

They probably won't actually sign half of those selections. We can expect that they will sign all 13 selected in the first 10 rounds, because any of those picks unsigned represent dead money. They'll ink maybe a half-dozen of the others.

The consensus on Wednesday morning was that Minnesota won't come close to spending its MLB-high bonus allotment.

Perhaps. Taking a quick gander at the final day's crop of picks as they flowed over the feed, I noticed some high schoolers with scouting reports attached -- a definite minority in the late rounds. They were guys with tough college commitments -- James Marvel, in the 37th round, for example. The report speaks highly of three pitches, of his "pitchability" (meaning he uses the stuff well) and of projection (his body is not yet mature). Baseball America rated him as the 206th prospect in the field, so he theoretically could have gone in the sixth or seventh round.

Marvel also has a Duke scholarship. The Twins may not lure him away from Duke, but a bonus surplus won't hurt in that effort. In fact, it's probably essential; whatever his price is, it's probably more than sixth or seventh round money.

In addition, according to Baseball America, for this year only a bonus surplus can be carried over to next year's draft. This was regarded as a notably thin field; 2013 is probably going to be deeper. It's not a terrible thing to carry over a surplus.

As for what the Twins did: They took the consensus top talent in Bryon Buxton. They went heavily for pitchers with velocity, with an emphasis on college relievers and with an apparent intent to try at least some of them as starters.

I don't know how well this will work in terms of developing power arms for the major league rotation. There are a lot of variables involved:

  • People throw hard in relief than they do as starters. Note Glen Perkins, for example. So the impressive velocities reported for some of these picks figure to decline as starters.
  • College starters typically start once a week. Pro starters start every five days. That heavier workload tends to sap velocities. It's pretty common for minor leaguers to fail to live up to their amateur radar gun readings.
  • A lot of top-grade college starters run up big pitch counts -- which may be a reason so many sustain significant arm injuries early in their pro careers. The Twins, by taking bullpen arms in the early rounds, were selecting pitchers who haven't been potentially overworked.
  • On any level of baseball, relief pitchers are generally pitchers deemed too flawed in some way to start. There are reasons the pitchers the Twins took weren't starters. Maybe they were't good reasons, but there were reasons.
It only takes the Twins being right on one or two of them to make this a successful approach.


  1. There has been a lot of focus on the bonus allotment. But, as the Twins have said, the impact of that on their choices was very limited. I think some people are under the illusion that scouting directors had no budget constraints in the past. I doubt that is true, they were simply self-imposed by the team. The slot money will prevent some teams from spending as much as they will like, but for many/most teams they would have been constrained by costs in any case.

    I think there is are a couple other factors that saps speeds when kids turn professional. One is the need to disguise their pitches by having identical arm action for different pitches. The other is the need to locate their pitches. They may need to take something off that fastball in order to find an arm action where they can throw all their pitches over the plate.

  2. While it's true that a HS or college pitcher who tops out at 96 mph may not maintain that velocity for any of the reasons mentioned, the same would likely be true of a HS or college pitcher who tops out at 92 mph. That being the case, I'm at least encouraged that the Twins didn't use their top ten rounds to draft a bunch of kids who are already just low-90s control pitchers.