By La Velle
I wrote a story for our baseball preview section about the Twins farm system. I was hard on them for not doing a better job of drafting from 1998-2000.
Those players would be established major leaguers by now. But out of 151 players drafted during that time, the only player the Twins were able to sign, get to the majors and become established was Justin Morneau. Jason Kubel was drafted during that time and Travis Bowyer was part of the Luis Castillo trade. but those still are three bad years.
I generally think the Twins have good farm system, especially after the Johan Santana trade has added more prospects to an already good crop.
Yet I believe that if you’re not going to spend money for free agents you have to have a steady pipeline of talent flowing from the farm system. The Twins can’t afford to have a bad run like they did from 1998-2000 and they have admitted such. And, while I agree that the scouting business is filled with poor picks and wasted money, the Twins must be a notch above everyone else.
The Twins had a great chance in 2004 to bolster their farm system when, because of compensation picks, they had five of the top 39 selections.
Baseball America that year rated the Twins’ draft as the best of all 30 teams, but the club is still waiting for the talent to show up in the majors.
Shortstop Trevor Plouffe was selected with the 20th overall selection. After a slow start with the bat at the lower levels, Plouffe hit .274 at Class AA New Britain last season with 9 homers and 50 RBI. His 37 doubles led the organization. He fields well but has had to smooth out throwing errors and trying to make plays he can’t. He turns 22 in June, so he’s not worth giving up on.
Lefthander Glen Perkins was taken two picks later and debuted in the majors in 2006. Unfortunately, Perkins missed most of last season dealing with a strained muscle near his shoulder. There seems to be a group of Twins officials who want Perkins to start and another that thinks he should be a reliever. Either way, Perkins needs to pitch innings after the lost season of 2007. He still has a great chance to be good - either as a starter or a reliever.
(the Yankees drafted Philip Hughes, by the way, after Perkins)
Righthander Kyle Waldrop was the Twins’ third pick of the first round, 25th overall. This pick surprised come clubs because Waldrop was thought to be headed to college. He joined the Twins as a pitcher with an advanced knowledge of working hitters and the ability to change speeds. Waldrop was 7-5 with a 3.45 ERA at Class A Fort Myers and 3-6, 5.34 at Class AA New Britain last season. The Twins want him to step it up this year, but the 22-year old already has had some arm trouble this year.
Righthander Matt Fox was selected in the supplemental round, 35th overall. Unfortunately, Fox isn’t the pitcher the Twins drafted him to be because of shoulder surgery that knocked him out for all of 2005. Fox returned after that with his velocity down and has worked to regain his old form ever since. He currently is in the bullpen at Class A Fort Myers.
The Twins selected rigthhander Jay Rainville 39th overall. Rainville came out of high school with a plus fastball and some thought he could develop into nice power pitcher. But Rainville also has broken down, missing all of 2006 with a nerve problem in his throwing shoulder. The Twins were thrilled just to see Rainville on the mound again last season, when he went 9-11 with a 3.29 ERA last year at Class A Fort Myers. Rainville, who turns 23 in October, is in the rotation at Class AA New Britain.
So the results are mixed from this draft. The Twins have suffered setbacks with injuries. They are waiting for Plouffe to take his final steps of development and Waldrop may be at a crossroads.
The Twins did draft Juan Portes and Eduardo Morlan (spun off in the Delmon Young deal) in 2004.
And maybe drafting this guy in the 16th round turn out to be a steal.