Twins looking for bats in draft
High school third baseman could be club's top pick
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have had a pretty simple philosophy when it comes to drafting players over the past few years -- just take the best one available.It may sound like an obvious solution, but it's the one that Twins scouting director Mike Radcliff has abided by for most of his tenure, no matter what the circumstance. "We don't get too far away from [general manager] Terry Ryan's basic philosophy, and that's to line them up and take the best guy," Radcliff said. "Within that, we do know what this draft has in it -- what's strong and what isn't. And sometimes you do kind of skew to certain areas or certain positions due to the talent level that's there. But mostly we try to take the best player we feel is available." The Twins have the 28th pick in this year's draft, meaning there will be plenty of waiting and seeing. The 2007 First-Year Player Draft takes place June 7-8 at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando. The first round will be aired on ESPN2 beginning at 1 p.m. CT, and MLB.com will have every pick of the 50-round draft, start to finish. This is the first year the draft will be televised. The new format of the draft will throw in a few new kinks for all 30 teams. With the new television schedule, only five rounds will take place on the first day instead of 20 like in years past. For the Twins and Radcliff, it's going to be a process of figuring out how the new rules will impact the selection process and which players are taken in the early rounds. Radcliff said the Twins are looking at about 8-10 players right now who might be available when they pick at the end of the first round. Many pundits believe the Twins' pick could be third baseman Will Middlebrooks of Liberty-Elyau High School in Tarkana, Texas. It doesn't appear to be far-fetched, as high school position players are the strength of this year's draft, according to Radcliff. The Twins have not been afraid to draft high schoolers in the past, as witnessed by their selection of outfielder Chris Parmelee in the first round of last year's draft. The Twins' farm system has been stocked with pitching over the years, and one of the goals of the past few drafts was to add more talented position players to the organization. With the stock of collegiate pitchers very thin in this draft, it appears that the Twins will once again turn their focus to adding some quality bats. "The strength in our Minor Leagues has been pitching, so if we can, we'll get bats," Radcliff said. "They've been a priority and will continue to be a priority for us for a while. That's what we'd really like to get." But while the club has a good idea of what it will do when that first pick comes around on June 7, there is still an element of surprise that could happen, considering how far down the team is in the order this year. "Picking that low, you can't hardly forecast it," Radcliff said. "You kind of have to see what shows up down there. We'll line them up and take the best one that's left." Here's a look at the Twins' first-round picks over the last three years: Chris Parmelee, OF, 2006, pick No. 20: The left-handed power bat of Parmelee has reminded many of another certain slugger currently with the Twins, Justin Morneau. Parmelee wowed the organization by hitting eight home runs in just 45 Gulf Coast rookie league games last season. The power hasn't come so quickly this season, as Parmelee is hitting just .230 with four homers and 16 RBIs in 41 games at Class A Beloit.
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
Matt Garza, RHP, 2005, pick No. 25: A pitcher headed for the fast track almost immediately upon signing, Garza spent his first full season in the organization rising from Class A Fort Myers all the way to the Majors. The right-hander was an impressive 14-4 with a 1.99 ERA and 154 strikeouts in 23 Minor League starts last year. Now it's about mixing in his pitches and becoming consistent before Garza becomes a mainstay in the Twins' rotation.(Sandwich Pick) Henry Sanchez, 1B, 2005, pick No. 39: The Twins drafted Sanchez for his power, but he has yet to show those numbers yet. Sanchez is just getting ready to play games for the first time this season due to wrist issues. The Twins hope fixing the wrist problems will improve Sanchez's contact numbers. Last season, Sanchez hit just .202 with four home runs in 48 games for Class A Beloit. Trevor Plouffe, SS, 2004, pick No. 20: The Twins' initial first-round pick in '04, Plouffe signed quickly and batted .283 in 60 games at rookie-level Elizabethton. Plouffe has struggled offensively the past two seasons but has gotten off to a better start in '07, hitting .244 with three homers and 16 RBIs for Double-A New Britain. Glen Perkins, LHP, 2004, pick No. 22: One of three first-round picks in '04, Perkins is the first of that group to make it to the Majors. The left-hander made the club's playoff roster last year and became a permanent fixture in the team's bullpen this season before landing on the DL with an injured shoulder muscle. Perkins still is viewed as a potential starter, though the team is using him in a long relief/left-handed 'pen role right now. Kyle Waldrop, RHP, 2004, pick No. 25: Viewed as a potential No. 4 or 5 starter in the rotation, Waldrop has seen slow progress since being taken as the club's third first-round pick in '04. He began '07 at Class A Fort Myers, where he was 4-2 with a 2.86 ERA in 44 innings before being promoted to New Britain in mid-May.
(Sandwich Pick) Matt Fox, RHP, 2004, pick No. 35: Fox missed the entire 2005 season due to shoulder surgery and went 4-0 with a 3.79 ERA at rookie-level Elizabethton. Problems with his velocity in spring kept Fox from breaking with the club out of spring this season, but he was recently sent to Class A Beloit.(Sandwich Pick) Jay Rainville, RHP, 2004, pick No. 39: Nerve problems in his shoulder sidelined Rainville for all of '06, and some people in the organization were worried it would end the right-hander's career. But Rainville is back at Fort Myers, where he's gone 2-5 with a 2.94 ERA in 11 appearances. Rising Fast: Only one player has risen through the organization's ranks at the same speed as Garza, and that was power slugger David Ortiz. The Twins' first-round pick in the 2005 draft, Garza saw his '06 season begin at Class A Fort Myers only to finish the year with the Major League club. Garza's seen his share of ups and downs to start '07 in Rochester, going 2-5 with a 3.21 ERA in 10 starts. Cinderella Story: A 16th-round pick in the 2004 draft, Matt Tolbert has risen to be the starting second baseman for Triple-A Rochester. Through 34 games for the Red Wings, Tolbert was batting .356 with two homers and 19 RBIs. He has surprised the Twins with his consistency at the plate and has become a legitimate option for infield depth should the club need it. In the Show: Matt Garza and Glen Perkins
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.