With their ninth-round pick (No. 260 overall) in the First-Year Player Draft on Friday, the Twins selected college catcher Mitchell Garver.
Despite being named an All-American a year ago, New Mexico's Garver went undrafted as a junior. He returned to school and was regarded as one of the better college seniors in this year's Draft class.
Garver posted exceptional offensive numbers while at New Mexico, but scouts are concerned they have been inflated by the thin air and hitting environment of Albuquerque.
"He's not as good defensive catching -- he doesn't throw quite as well or receive quite as well -- but he's been pretty steady throughout his career," scouting director Deron Johnson said. "He's swung the bat well throughout his college career. We like his upside. He's going to be OK."
Garver has improved defensively in the last year, quieting most of the concerns about his ability to remain behind the plate as a professional. He is an average receiver with a solid arm. Garver has also played left field, but his bat profiles much better if he can catch.
There is no questioning Garver's commitment and durability. In his final three seasons at New Mexico, he played in every one of his team's games, capped with a 2013 campaign that saw him finish second on the team in batting average -- behind slugger D.J. Peterson -- and near the .400 mark (at .390). He also had 68 RBIs in his senior campaign.
In both 2012 and '13, Peterson and Garver shared Mountain West Conference co-Player of the Year honors.
Twins draft college catcher Turner in third round
After taking two right-handers early, the Twins picked up a defensive catcher in Stuart Turner with their third-round pick (No. 78 overall) of the First-Year Player Draft on Friday.
Turner spent his first two college seasons at LSU-Eunice, helping the Bengals win the 2012 Division II junior college national championship. Then, in just one season after transferring to Mississippi, Turner established himself as the best catcher in the SEC.
The 6-2, 200-pound catcher excels defensively, earning high marks for his plus arm and receiving skills. Turner's impressive work behind the plate was enough to garner Gold Glove honors among Division II junior colleges last year.
"He has advanced catch skills," scouting director Deron Johnson said. "He's a really good receiver, he can throw, he's got a big durable body. He swings the bat enough. We think he's got the chance to be an everyday catcher in the big leagues."
His offense, however, is not as well regarded. Turner regularly puts the ball in play, but scouts worry that he doesn't make hard contact consistently enough. He batted .374 with 51 RBIs and five home runs in 2013.
"Defense is obviously his greater strength right now," Johnson said. "There's a mixed bag in our camp actually. Some guys think he'll have a little more power than average, and some people think he'll hit for more average than power. We'll see as he starts his career and we'll follow him."
In the Pipeline
Heading into the draft the Twins weren't shy about their need for pitchers -- and it showed early with six out of their first 10 picks spent on hurlers.
The Twins currently have five pitchers among their top 10 prospects -- righties Alex Meyer, Kyle Gibson, Trevor May, Jose Berrios and J.T. Chargois.
As general manager Terry Ryan noted in the days leading up to the Draft, teams always need pitchers and catchers, but the Twins also draft with the philosophy of taking what's best available -- it just turned out what was best available was also a happy union with filling their current needs.
Twins select high school lefty Gonsalves in Round 4
With their fourth-round pick (No. 110 overall), the Twins drafted high school left-hander Stephen Gonsalves.
Gonsalves had a very good summer in 2012, pitching well at the Area Code Games in California and the Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park in San Diego, though an inconsistent spring had some wondering just how high he'd go on Draft day.
"We see him as a starting pitcher; he has starting pitcher potential," scouting director Deron Johnson said. "He's a big body guy, he's about 6-5. Really athletic, has good arm action. He can run it up to 93-94 [mph] on occasion."
This year's MLB First-Year Player Draft has plenty of talent as far as high school southpaws are concerned, and with his size and projectability, Gonsalves -- from Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego -- has the upside to be the best of the group.
The lefty uses a full overhand delivery to fire 88-91 mph fastballs, though he was up to 93 at the Perfect Game Classic last summer. He'll throw a plus changeup at times to go along with a slurve, which was a bit of a concern to scouts.
"Like any high school guy, he's had his ups and downs this year," Johnson said. "But he's a good athlete. ... He's got a pretty good delivery, his arm works pretty good. His breaking ball is a little short right now, but we think he's going to have a slider down the road. We really like his fastball coming in. He throws it over. He's got good life on his fastball."
Over the 2013 season, the 6-5, 190-pound lefty went 10-0 with a 1.91 ERA. He was also named Rawlings First Team All-American, California All-Region First team.
Minnesota nabs tall Indiana hurler Slegers
With their fifth-round pick (No. 140 overall) in the First-Year Player Draft on Friday, the Twins selected Indiana University right-hander Aaron Slegers.
Injuries plagued Slegers at the end of his high school career and into the start of his stint in college. Forearm pain from a growth spurt, a broken right wrist and a stress fracture in his right tibia limited Slegers to just 10 innings from 2010 -- his senior year of high school in Arizona -- to 2012. He was finally healthy this season and took over as Indiana's ace, helping lead the Hoosiers to a Big Ten championship.
"He's fine, our doctors cleared him," scouting director Deron Johnson said. "He's a big guy too, he's 6-10. He's durable. He doesn't throw quite as hard as the other few guys we took in this Draft, but he's got really good control. He throws strikes. He throws it downhill. He's got a pretty good slider and he's pretty athletic for a big guy."
The right-hander went 9-1 with a 1.94 ERA while striking out 53 over 92 2/3 innings.
Slegers typically throws his fastball at about 90 mph and has touched 95. He has a good approach on the mound and is able to add and subtract from his fastball as needed. Slegers also throws a solid changeup and is working to improve his slider.
"He's more of a sinkerball guy," Johnson said. "He gets a lot of groundouts. You won't see strikeout numbers from him. But our area scout has seen him touch 95 this spring, so you never know what you'll get."
He is listed at 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds, but he repeats his delivery well for a pitcher of his size.
Twins like power in fifth-round catcher Navarreto
With their fifth-round pick (No. 170 overall) in the First-Year Player Draft on Friday, the Twins selected catcher Brian Navarreto.
In a Draft class fairly deep in high school catching, don't sleep on Navarreto. Big and strong at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, the Puerto Rican-born Florida prep standout has the chance to hit for both average and power, with bat speed and loft. He has a good plan at the plate and makes adjustments well.
Drafted out of Arlington Country Day School in Jacksonville, Fla., Navarreto has a strong arm that he's not afraid to show off from behind the plate, and his athleticism gives him the potential to become a strong offensive catcher who can play solid defense as well.
"He's a very energetic player," scouting director Deron Johnson said. "He brings a lot of energy to the game. We love his makeup. … He can really throw. He's got some really good defensive skills for a younger kid, and he's really aggressive."
Navarreto's the kind of strong competitor teams like to see at the position, as well, giving the Jacksonville University commit a chance to maximize his solid all-around tools.
Navarreto may not have been the first high school backstop to hear his name called, but he simply had too much talent to sit around for too long without being picked.
Seton Hall reliever Gilbert goes in seventh round
With their seventh-round pick (No. 200 overall) in the Draft, the Twins selected college right-hander Brian Gilbert.
Gilbert, a 6-1, 205-pound junior out of Seton Hall University, made 27 appearances in the 2013 season, in which he went 4-4 with a 2.40 ERA. After making one start, he was converted to a closer and went on to make 26 relief appearances for the Pirates, converting six saves.
Over the course of his final 14 relief outings, Gilbert gave up runs on only two occasions. Gilbert ended the year with 49 strikeouts over 48 2/3 innings.
"Our scout saw him in the Big East Tournament a couple weeks ago and he was up to 96 [mph]," scouting director Deron Johnson said. "He's a bulldog. He brings that kind of mentality to the game. He's got a pretty good slider. He's definitely a reliever."
Gilbert's season earned him third team all-Big East honors.
Twins nab IU third baseman DeMuth in Round 8
In the eighth round of the First-Year Player Draft, the Twins selected their first infielder, Indiana third baseman Dustin DeMuth, No. 230 overall.
Indiana had its most successful baseball season in decades this year, and DeMuth is a big reason why.
The third baseman showed the ability to hit and run, leading the team in batting average -- .396 with 40 RBIs-- and finishing second in stolen bases. At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, he has the frame that suggests more power in the future, though his approach at the plate is more base-hit oriented for now.
"He's a good athlete, kind of reminds us of a Corey Koskie -- a former Twins third baseman -- he can throw and he can run for a guy his size," scouting director Deron Johnson said. "We think the power may come late. He's got a pretty good swing. He's got kind of a gap-type approach right now, but he makes contact. We like the way he goes about it."
DeMuth's a capable third baseman, though there's work to be done there, with a fielding percentage of .927.
Twins use final Day 2 pick on talented righty Irby
With their final pick on Day 2 of the First-Year Player Draft on Friday, the Twins selected Samford right-hander Charles Irby in the 10th round (No. 290 overall).
Irby was an accomplished two-way player, serving as the Bulldogs' closer and designated hitter last year, and he starred in the Cape Cod League last summer before moving into the starting rotation this spring. The crown jewel of that junior season came on a March 22 trip to Furman, when Irby tossed a three-hitter with 16 strikeouts and just one run allowed.
Irby's fastball sits around 90 mph as a starter and in the mid-90s as a reliever, with good movement. He mixes his fastball with a plus curveball.
His aggressiveness on the mound and lack of a quality third offering make Irby a better fit as a reliever. He is polished enough to move quickly through the Minor Leagues if his professional career begins in the bullpen.
"He might be the best baseball player we took," scouting director Deron Johnson said. "He was a closer last year, and our scouts saw him at 96-97. This year, he was put in the starter's role. ... [We] think his makeup fits that relief role, bullpen role. He didn't throw as hard as he did last year as a bullpen guy, but we see his velocity coming back once he gets back into his comfortable role coming out of the bullpen."
As a starter in 2013, Irby threw 91 1/3 innings with a 4.14 ERA and 90 strikeouts. He went .383 at the plate, with 59 RBIs and eight home runs.
A move to the bullpen would also highlight the unique way in which Irby sprints to and from the mound during his outings, a habit reminiscent of Todd Coffey.
Kelly Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.