Monday, December 31, 2007

The 2007 Minnesota Twins Draft Review: Continuum.

This is a continuation of sorting through the statistical deluge that is the first seasons of the Twins 2007 amateur draft picks. Please click here if you want the full round 1 through 10 rundown. While initial reviews had condemned some of the Twins selections as frugal and misguided (particularly Keith Law's ESPN and Carlos Gomez's Hardball Times diatribes bashing the Ben Revere pick), but on the whole, it appears that while opportunities may have been wasted on the organization's behalf (i.e. too much focus on catchers) in the early rounds, the later picks too have contributed in their inaugural seasons. Frugal, yes. Misguided? You decide:

r11.362) Andrew Schmiesing - 21-years-old - of

Schmiesing, like Glen Perkins before him, was a standout athlete at Stillwater (all-conference in baseball, football and basketball) and opted to attend St. Olaf's in Northfield where he excelled on the diamond and the gridiron. Prior to the baseball draft, Patrick Ruesse penned an ode to the multi-sport Schmiesing and his impending decision: football or baseball. When the Twins selected the local standout with their 392nd overall pick, Schmiesing decided to forgo both a college degree and a football career and report to the Gulf Coast League. Once there, Schmiesing showed great plate discipline (walking in 13.5% of his plate appearances) and contact (12.8% strikeout rate) resulting in a .321 batting average and superb .421 on-base percentage (this from a league whose averages are .252 and .332 respectively). Lacking any significant power (a .037 isop and only 4 doubles), Schmiesing beat the ball into the ground far too frequently (50% gb%) coupled with a low line drive percentage (9% ld%) from someone with a 6'4" frame. If his power develops and he retains his plate awareness, Schmiesing has the potential advance within the organization.

r12.392) Michael Tarsi - 21-years-old - lhp (sp)

The first left-handed pitcher selected by the Twins, Tarsi, a graduate of UConn, was another immediate contributor to the Elizabethton Twins. The 6'8" lefty threw 52.2 innings in 11 starts which resulted in a 5-2 record and a minuscule 2.22 (in a league whose average is 4.17). He has good command of his pitches as evident by his 26.6% strikeout rate and low 5.9% walk rate. When batters were making contact he induced groundballs in 68% of balls in play and did not yield a home run. Tarsi is yet another good starting pitching prospect in an already good cadre of arms.

r14.452) Danny Rohlfing - 18-years-old - c

Another catcher selected by the Twins, this time from the St Louis, MO area, Rohlfing has had a tough first year for the GCL Twins. While playing against older competition (average of 20), Rohlfing finished with a .232/.313/.250 batting line, significantly lower than the league's .252/.332/.359 average. What's more, Rohlfing in his 64 plate appearances struck out 17.2% of the time. When he did make contact, Rohlfing hit groundballs in 56% of the ones in play. Rohlfing is still young enough to improve his performance next season and this does not spell doom for the young catcher however it does hinder his hopes for advancement in a system that is flush with catchers such as Rams and Lehmann elected in the same draft ahead of him (and as we will later see Ben Petsch drafted behind him).

r15.482) Daniel Latham - 23-years-old - rhp (rp)

Like Blair Erickson selected in the 10th round, Latham had considerable success as a college closer for Tulane University, his first professional season was not as rewarding. At Elizabethton, Latham's peripheral numbers were very good (26.2% k% and 2.4% bb%), however he gave up 14 earned runs (including 2 home runs) in 25.1 innings of work. His inflated era (4.91) seems to be isolated into one month. In 6 innings in July, Latham had an era of 12.00 as a result of a babip of .565 and only inducing groundballs on 27% of the balls hit in play. In spite of this, Latham did not walk anyone and he struck out 27.2% of the batters faced in that stretch. Ultimately, his 28-to-3 strikeouts-to-walks is indicative of someone who has good command and an out pitch. If he can keep hitters from making solid contact, increasing his groundball rate, Latham could be another useful reliever in the existing arsenal.

r16.512) Nelvin Fuentes - 18-years-old - lhp (rp)

Fuentes appears to be someone who is throwing to contact (read: finesse), especially when you consider his GCL Twins numbers (11.5% k%, 2.77 era and a low .194 babip). Unfortunately, his accuracy could use some help since he ended up walking 5 in 13 innings of relief (9.6% walk rate) which would negate the entire purpose of being a pitcher who pitches to contact. From the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, one might consider Fuentes to be a future LOOGY but gave up a .625 average against left-handed batters (5 hits) and struck out none. The ability to get left-handed batters out is a strong prerequisite for a lefty in the bullpen. Fuentes will have to adjust his approach and find the strikezone if he would like to advance in the system.

r18.572) Lee Martin - 21-years-old - rhp (rp)

Like Fuentes, Martin reported to the Gulf Coast League and performed well out of the bullpen when looking at the standard numbers. His 2-1 record coupled with a 3.21 era and 13 strikeouts looks good but his control looks suspect when you consider his 10.9% walk rate. Then again, of the 55 batters faced Martin managed to entice groundballs on 54% of balls in play. A few more season could correct his command.

r19.602) Ben Petsch - 23-years-old - c

Petsch had an electrifying season until a broken hand effectively sidelined him for the remainder of the 2007 season. A graduate of Belmont University in Nashville, Petsch started with Elizabethton and began campaigning as one of the more successful late round catchers selected. Drafted as a catcher in name only, Petsch has played all over the diamond including both corner outfield positions, first base and catcher. He spent most of his first season as a professional in left field (13 games). Offensively, Petsch showed patience, power and the ability to make consistent contact. In his 95 plate appearances in the Appalachian League, Petsch coaxed 21 walks (22.1% bb%), struck out only 15 times (15.8% k%), produced an isolated slugging average of .162, and sprayed line drives over the field at an 18% clip. Before receiving a promotion to the Midwest League, Petsch hit .311/.463/.473 resulting in an ops of .936 - 224 points above the league average. After Allan de San Migual was promoted from Beloit to Ft. Myers, the Twins took the opportunity to advance Petsch as well, having him fill de San Migual's roster spot. In 14 plate appearances for the Snappers, Petsch once again produced solid numbers including walking 4 times, knocking in 2 rbis and tripling once (leading to a .200 isop). Petsch will have to wait until next season to reaffirm his legitimacy, however with the numbers he has thus far provided, he certainly has the opportunity to be one of the better offensive prospects to watch in 2008.

Picks in rounds 21 thorugh 50 forthcoming (although only six of them signed)...