Sunday, December 14, 2008

Over The Baggy's Twins Draft Review 2008

With the changing of the General Manager's from Ryan to Smith and Mike Radcliff handing off the draft day responsibilities to former crosschecker Deron Johnson, it is evident that the Twins sustained the philosophy behind their approach to the draft.  The organization focused on upside and projectability. 
As you will see in the instance of Shooter Hunt, the team selected a pitcher that had plus-stuff but had rough edges in the control department.  Confident they had the necessary tools in place to teach Hunt control, they made him a first round (supplement) pick.  In similar fashion, the Twins chose shortstop Tyler Ladendorf in the second round.  Ladendorf had produced well in high school and junior college but some scouts believed his weight distribution presented a problem in his hitting approach.  The Twins however, felt they had the instructors on staff to fix this.     
The scouting staff would also uncover several players that were overlooked because of their competition.  Both the ninth (Gonzales) and tenth (Bigley) round selections were cultivated out of league's that were undervalued.  But as complete of coverage as the team's scouting department seemed to display, ranging from coast-to-coast, there was a large amount of the players that were either in college near the Midwest or had played in the local Northwoods League,making one wonder what exactly is the travel budget for the scouts?
At the conclusion of their first professional season, you will find that the 2008 draft team were successful in signing players up and down the board that will ensure that the farm system remains an envy of Major League Baseball.   
Round.Pick | Player | Signing Bonus | Age | Position 
R37.1116 | Javier Ogo-Brown | NA | 21 years old | INF
The Twins selected Ogo-Brown out of Grossmont Junior College and was assigned to the Gulf Coast League affiliate.  This son of Guam had a muddling introduction to professional baseball as he started his career 11-for-47 (.234) with no extra base hits and a 6/14 BB/K ratio.  He carries 175 pounds on his six foot frame so there is room for him to grow physically. This offseason Ogo-Brown will take his development over to Australia where he will play for West Torrens baseball club in the South Australian Baseball League - the Twins have several players participating within this league including catchers Danny Rohlfing and Fred Hanvi as well as Korean imports Hyoeng-Rok Choi and Hyung-wook Choi
R30.906 | Mike Tonkin | $230K | 18 years old | RHRP
The large statured Tonkin (6-foot-7, 215) from Palmdale, CA is a brother-in-law of Jason Kubel and was sent to the GCL Twins for his inaugural minor league season.  The Twins threw $230,000 at Tonkin as a signing bonus, a hefty sum for a 30th round pick, because he was already clocked at low-90s in high school.  The organization likes his projectability to say the least.  In his first professional season, pitching mostly in relief, Tonkin worked 11 innings and struck out 8 while walking 3.  His 3.27 ERA was 15% better than the league average but with such a small sample size it is impossible to project Tonkin's true abilities. 
R28.846 | Nate Hanson | $25K | 21 years old | 3B

Hanson caught attention by leading the 2007 Northwoods League with a .363 average and obtaining that league's All Star game MVP while playing for the Mankato Moon Dogs and he followed this up with a good collegiate season with the University of Minnesota (.966).  Given a $25,000 signing bonus (just $205,000 less than the Tonkin drafted a round after him), the 21-year-old Hanson was sent to Elizabethton where he opened up the first month of the season strong, hitting .308/.550/.615 in his first 15 at-bats but a July swoon (.129/.182/.161 in 31 at-bats) tanked his overall numbers.  Because he is a third baseman that has shown power, the Twins will give him time to learn on the job.
R26.786 | Adam Severino | NA| 21 years old | OF
This juco transfer was given a substantial amount of playing time in the University of Miami's outfield in 2008 and hit .325/.433/.469 in 160 at-bats.  Somewhat undersized (5-foot-11, 200), the Chicago White Sox initially attempted to draft the left-handed hitting Severino in 2006.  In 123 plate appearances with Elizabethton, Severino exercised very good plate discipline (18 walks, .366 OBP) but didn't supply power. 

R21.636 | Steve Blevins | NA | 21 years old | RHRP

Blevins had a rough 2007 while at the University of Cincinnati.  The Bearcats finishes 10-16 and Blevins was tied for the most losses in the Big East Conference with seven.  Following the NCAA season, the 6-foot-2 left-handed Blevins transferred to Marshall in West Virginia, a school that had gone 5-18 the previous year.  The idea was that the competition was much stronger in Conference USA which contained powerhouses like Rice, Houston and Tulane.  Blevins, for his part, went 9-3 in 14 starts with a 4.41 ERA and 78/31 K/BB ratio in 98 innings pitched while leading the conference in complete games (3).  The Twins noticed and drafted him in the 21st round and sent him to the Gulf Coast League to work out of the bullpen.  Blevin threw nine total innings in Florida before being promoted to the Appalachian League.  In 22.2 innings in relief, Blevins would accumulate an ERA of over 6 but his fielding independent number of 4.68 indicates that he is much better that the ERA would suggest. 
R19.576 | Bruce Pugh | NA | 19 years old | RHRP
The 6-foot-3, 180 pound Pugh was directed to the Gulf Coast League for his minor league introduction which resulted in two extremely different months.   In June, Pugh pitched 14 innings and struck out 24% of batters faced and walked just 8% while inducing groundballs 57% of the time.  The following month, Pugh struck out 20% but walked 20% as well and only got 33% of batters to hit into groundballs.  There is no need to read too far into this, just a curiosity. 
R17.516 | Blake Martin | NA | 22 years old | LHRP
A product of the LSU baseball system, Martin emerged as a bona fide prospect after a 2007 stint in the Northwoods League.  Following his 39 innings and 32 strikeouts, Baseball America ranked him the 9th overall player in the league noting that he had a 90+ fastball with loose arm action.  John Manuel noted in a BA chat that he believed Martin was headed for a single-digit draft pick.  After starting the year in Elizabethton, Martin was quickly moved to the more age-appropriate Midwest League.  While with Beloit Martin threw 28.1 innings and struck out 40 while walking just 13.  Martin will turn 23 in the middle of next season so the Twins may want to expedite his development and to see if the numbers sustain in AA.
R14.426 | Blayne Weller | NA | 18 years old | RHRP

The high school draft choice out of Key West, FL, Weller was originally sent to the GCL Twins where he pitched just one inning of one game before moving back to the Instructional League.  La Velle E Neal reported that the Twins where extremely satisfied with Weller's progress.  Weller is a man-child (listed at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds) and will probably see innings in rookie ball to open 2009. 
R13.396 | Michael Harrington | NA | 22 years old | OF
Harrington displayed tons of power in his final year at College of Charleston, slamming 26 home runs and leading the Southern Conference in that category.  He continued this surge in Elizabethon hitting nine more home runs while his slugging percentage (.452) was 16% better than the league average.  Because Harrington is over two years older than most of his competition in the Appalachian League he may have been overpowering the raw pitchers. 
R12.366 | Kyle Carr | $50K | 21 years old | LHRP
Another University of Minnesota alum, the Twins originally attempted to obtain Carr during the 2005 draft when graduated from Linton, North Dakota as a multisport athletic going to state in both football and basketball.  Instead the 6-foot-5 lefty opted take his skillset to college.  During his sophomore season Carr was one named Second Team Big Ten Reliever closing games for the Gophers. The lefty faced a difficult season in his final year in the Big Ten transitioning to a starter, finishing 2-7 in 13 starts with a 1.71 WHIP.  The Twins signed Carr with a $50,000 bonus and he was sent to the Gulf Coast League.  After three appearance, Carr was sent to Elizabethton where he made 11 relief appearances, putting up a 10.80 Runs Allowed Average in 15 innings of work.  He possesses a 90-mph plus fastball that projects well. 
R11.336 | Dominic De La Osa  | NA | 22 years old | 2B
De La Osa played on a very solid Vanderbilt teams that contained Tampa Bay's elite pitching prospect David Price, who was the #1 overall draft pick in 2007, and Pedro Alvarez in 2008, who was this draft's #2 overall pick by Pittsburgh.  After a monster 2007 season at Vandy in which De La Osa hit .378/.452/.727 with 43 extra base hits in 249 at bats, the Detroit Tigers select him in the 10th round of the 2007 draft offering him $300,000.  De La Osa declined, stating that he wanted to return one more season in efforts to get to Omaha for the College World Series. rated De La Osa as the team's Best Athlete and Best Base Runner on the team.  The Commodores fell short of a trip to Nebraska and De La Osa's stock declined somewhat when in the same number of at bats in 2008, he hit .297/.410/.506 with 24 extra base hits.  Undervalued during the draft, sliding to the Twins in the 11th round of the 2008 draft, the organization had him report to Elizabethton.  While his overall numbers don't appear sturdy, he sandwich two good months of hitting .899 and .815 OPS with a horrid month of July hitting just .715.  Even with the absence of power (.394 slugging) De La Osa finished with very good on-base percentage (.384).  Once the power fully develops, De La Osa has the potential to be a steal for the Twins. 
R10.306 | Evan Bigley  | $75K | 21 years old | OF
Bigley comes from baseball pedigree as his older brother, Dennis, paved the way for the Bigley boys by getting drafted by the Blue Jays in the 22nd round of the 2003 draft.  The younger Bigley shot onto the scene along with his Independent alma mater, Dallas Baptist, who defeated Rice twice.  Refining his talents in the Northwoods League for the La Crosse Loggers, Bigley powered the Patriots his senior season with a .586 slugging percentage, catching the Twins' attention.  The organization assigned him to Elizabethon and he continued to swat, hitting 14 home runs and slugging .587 - significantly better than the league average of .387.  Bigley's power will carry him through the next few levels at which point he will have to develop better plate discipline in order to advance further. 

R09.276 | Mike Gonzales | $85K | 20 years old | 1B
Playing for Diablo Valley Junior College, Gonzales ripped through the league's pitching and wound up being named the league's best player.  The 6-foot-6 Gonzales smashed 18 home runs and hit .377 to earn the honors and a ninth round draft selection from the Twins.  With a solid 245 pounds on the big frame, Gonzales had a decent introductory season in the Gulf Coast League.  Though overshadowed by the first round draft pick Aaron Hicks who grabbed headlines on the GCL Twins, Gonzales quietly hit .331/.387/.489, well above the GCL average of .253/.331/.356.

R08.246 | Jeff Lanning  | $105K | 21 years old | C
After transferring from the University of Nebraska to the University of New Orleans, the Ankeny, Iowa native Lanning emerged as a legitimate offensive catcher leading the Privateers with 15 home runs and slugging .627.  The Twins secured Lanning in the eighth round with a $105,000 signing bonus and moved him to Elizabethton, where he competed with 2007's second round draft choice, Danny Rams, behind the plate.  Ultimately, Rams would catch more games but Lanning would posted better offensive numbers (.786 OPS to .724 OPS).  Defensively, Lanning has a below-average arm, allowing 13 of 16 (18.7% CS) potential base stealers to acquire the base, but he appears to be a better backstop allowing just 2 passed balls to Rams's 11. 
R07.216 | Dan Osterbrock  | $121K | 21 years old | LHSP
Osterbrock, who signed for $121,000, drew plenty of attention from Twins fans by throwing a Kevin Slowey-like 104/8 K/BB rate in just 75 innings to earn the title of Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year.  What is surprising is that his first-year numbers far exceed those of his collegiate numbers that he had while pitching at the University of Cincinnati.  In 193.1 innings the previous two seasons with the Bearcats, Osterbrock struck out 156.  One would like to assume that the Appalachian League is better competition than the Big East, but who knows.  Whether instructors in the Twins organization insisted on doing something different is unbeknowst to me.  A soft tosser, Osterbrock shows demonstrates outstanding command and will most likely move up to Beloit to see if his craftiness will work on the next level of hitters in 2009. 

R06.186 | BJ Hermsen| $650K | 19 years old | RHP
After being drafted in June, it took West Delware (Manchester, IA) High School graduate and the Twins until August to finally hammer out a workable contract.  The two landed on $650,000 as a signing bonus and for good reason.  The 6=foot-6, 230 pound Hermsen who had been clocked in the low-90s was interested in attending Oregon State.  OSU's Baseball coach Pat Casey was quoted as saying that Hermsen was "the only right-handed pitcher we that [OSU] ever recruited," continuing, "He's ranked as one of the top pitchers in the country."  Because of the late signing, Hermsen was sent to the Instructional League where Twins officials lauded his work habits and makeup.  The 2009 season will be his debut. 
R05.156 | Nick Romero | $179K | 20 years old | INF
The switch-hitting Romero was originally drafted by the Royals in the 40th round of the 2006 draft but he decided to go to San Deigo State University and play for Tony Gwynn instead.  Like Bigley, Romero played with the La Crosse Loggers in the Northwoods League, and like Bigley, Romero developed at the plate.  Over the course of the next three seasons, Romero progressed, culminating in his junior year by hitting .335/.418/.544 and leading the team with 12 home runs.  The Twins signed Romero for $179,000 and assigned him to Elizabethton where he hit .274/.338/.442 with 7 home runs in 197 at bats. 


R04.126 | Danny Ortiz | $253K | 18 years old | OF
Small in size (5-foot-11, 166 pounds), scouts have noted that Ortiz is one of the best pure hitters to come out of Puerto Rico in several years, claiming that he has an above average arm and can field all three outfield positions.  Because of that, it took $253,000 to secure the youngster.  In 48 games for the GCL Twins Ortiz hit .274/.328/.419 with 18 extra base hits and a 11/30 BB/K ratio.  Ortiz showed holes in his swing against left-handed pitching (.231/.286/.256 in 39 at bats) that will have to be repaired before he begins ascending to higher levels.  Thankfully, at 18, he has nothing but time.

R03.96 | Bobby Lanigan | $417K | 21 years old | RHSP
Lanigan, a Stanton Island native, accepted a $417,000 signing bonus making him the first Adelphi University player to be drafted and signed in 15 years.  Although Lanigan only went 4-4 his final seasons with the Panthers, he struck out 87 and walked just 16 in 79 innings and owns the school's all-time strikeout record (232).  In Baseball America's Draft Preview, they ranked Lanigan the 129th best prospect - probably because of playing at a Division II school - but had a 93-mph fastball and an above-average slider that attracted the Twins.  Reporting to Elizabethon, the 6-foot-4 Lanigan had a good season, pitching 74.1 innings with a 6-5 record and a 2.78 ERA combined with a 65/9 K/BB.  In August Lanigan threw 37 innings and posted a 30/1 K/BB ratio and a 2.28 FIP.  Scouts were very impressed with Lanigan's slider, deeming it the Best Slider in the organization according to Baseball America. 
R02.66 | Tyler Ladendorf  | $673K | 20 years old | SS
A former 34th round selection twice-over by the Yankees and Giants in 2006 and 2007, Ladendorf decided to forgo what were both high offers for the draft slot to attend and remain at Howard College in Big Springs, Texas.  Ladendorf was committed to attending the University of Oklahoma when his eligibility at the Texas JuCo expired but the Twins, using their 66th pick overall, convinced the 6-foot-1 Ladendorf to sign for $673,000 and assigned him to the GCL Twins.  Ladendorf's initial season was far from the expected results of a second-round draft choice: in 147 at bats, he hit just .204/.308/.293.  Ladendorf's numbers were the dividends of being stymied by right-handed pitching, hitting only .193/.295/.277 in 119 at bats.  The word is that the Twins are attempting to reconstruct Ladendorf's hitting style, one that prior to the draft was considered unorthodox because his weight was not distributed on his back foot evenly and because of his size, scouts believe that Ladendorf will eventually be forced out of the shortstop position. 

R01.31 | Shooter Hunt | 21 years old | $1.08 M | RHSP
Initially thought to be a top ten pick in the 2008 draft, Tulane's Shooter Hunt slid all the way to the Twins at the 31st pick overall.  According to Baseball America, scouts noted that Hunt often tried to "nibble" at corners of the plate and "pitched to contact" rather than attacking opposing batters.  Regardless of the method, the results were solid for Hunt who limited opponents to a .177 batting average and struck out 12 batters per game.  As the draft neared, his stock dropped because of his employment of only two pitches (92-94 mph fastball and a hammer curve) and the amount necessary to retire batters.  Still, it would be the Twins - an organization that is notorious for grooming control pitchers - that would land Hunt with a $1.08 million signing bonus.  The Twins would send Hunt to Elizabethton where Hunt would throw 19 dominating innings, striking out 34, walking six and allowing only surrendering three hits and one earned run.  Unchallenged at Rookie ball, the Twins moved him to Beloit where his control issues surfaced.  Though Hunt was essentially unhittable (.228), Hunt walked 27 in 32 innings in the Midwest League.  The Twins and Hunt are trying to work on his balance point and integrate the use of a changeup more frequently (one that was described as a "plus" in bullpen sessions).  Consistency is the name of the game for Hunt who should remain in Beloit to start the 2009 season to prove that he can throw his 94-mph fastball for a strike. 
R01.27 | Carlos Gutierrez | $1.29 M | 21 years old | RHSP
Following a solid career as a closer at the University of Miami, Gutierrez was the first pitcher taken by the Twins in the 2008 draft.  Gutierrez signed for a bonus of $1.29 million and reported to Fort Myers where he was initiated into professional baseball at the high-A level - the most advanced spotting within the organization among his draft class.  Positioned within the bullpen of the Florida State League representative, Gutierrez worked 25.2 innings with a 19/7 K/BB ratio.  In a league that is for players old then that of Gutierrez, he did not allowing a home run while holding a 2.50 Runs Allowed Average.  Though the sample size is minuscule, Gutierrez handled right-handed opponents significantly better than that of the left-handed counterparts (.160 vs RHB/.326 vs LHB).  Baseball America reports that Gutierrez has a Major League-ready sinking fastball that was elected as the best within the farm system, however, the Twins will attempt to convert him to a start in 2009 so he can work on his secondary pitches and accumulate more innings. 

R01.14 | Aaron Hicks | $1.78 M | 18 years old | OF
In a college-oriented draft plan devised by the Twins, the organization opened by selecting a high school player with five or possibly even six tools.  Hicks, who also pitched in high school, had a 93-mph fastball but it was his bat and fielding abilities that the Twins coveted.  The Twins allocated $1.7 million in signing their top selection and sent him to Elizabethton.  In 173 at bats, Hicks had 18 extra base hits and batted .318/.409/.491 a line slightly better than that of the previous year's first round pick, Ben Revere, who hit .325/.388/.461 in 191 at bats.  At 6-foot-2 and a slim 170 pounds, the scouting report believes Hicks will fill out that height as he matures adding power to a repertoire that already has patience (14% BB%).  With the conclusion of his first professional season under his belt, and a successful one at that, Baseball America ranked Hicks as the number one prospect within the Twins system and awarded him the titles of "Best Athlete", "Best Strike Zone Discipline", "Best Defensive Arm" and "Best Outfield Arm".  Hicks will receive a full season of plate appearance in 2009 at Beloit to continue his development - one that is seen as two years away from gracing Target Field.