A look at the 2004 draft

Posted on November 20th, 2008 – 5:50 PM
By La Velle

The Twins on Wednesday revealed the eight players they added to their 40-man roster.

But it’s always interesting to see who was left exposed to next month’s Rule 5 draft. And this is a great time to evaluate the Twins’ 2004 draft.

They had five of the first 39 picks that year and selected Trevor Plouffe (20th overall), Glen Perkins (22), Kyle Waldrop (25), Matt Fox (35) and Jay Rainville (39).

Right now, Perkins and Matt Tolbert (taken in the 16th round) have made the biggest impact so far. Anthony Swarzak (second), Portes (15th) and Tim Lahey (20th) also were drafted that year.

This year’s list of unprotected players represents several disappointing high draft picks — maybe a couple too many for an organization that relies on its farm system.

Some things were out of the Twins’ control.  Rainville, a kid with good size and a good fastball, missed all of 2006 with nerve problems in his shoulder. The Twins were happy just to see him on a mound in 2007, but he was 9-9 with a 5-plus ERA this year at New Britain.

Fox went four spots ahead of Rainville but he, too, missed a whole year (2005) because of an injury. Fox spent this year at Class A Fort Myers.

Two other first rounders who are unprotected – Matt Moses and Kyle Waldrop – stand out.

Moses should be the Twins starting third baseman right now. He came out of high school  in 2003 as one of the best prep hitters in the draft.  He had some early health issues, as he battled a sore back and a heart defect that required a patch to be placed on that all-important muscle.

I actually saw Moses play in 2005 when he, Perkins and Denard Span played for Class A Fort Myers. Moses hit a game-tying homer in the top of the ninth inning that led to extra innings. The swing was nice. He wasn’t very fluid at third but the Twins loved his bat and felt his defense would improve.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told Moses before a spring game in 2006 that third base in the majors was there for the taking. Moses even showed up to 2007 spring training down 40 pounds and looking serious. But Moses hasn’t turned the corner. Now Moses, and David Winfree, another third base prospect who has disappointed, have been shifted to the outfield.

Waldrop was the 25th overall pick in 2004. Some teams backed off him because he seemed destined to pitch at Vanderbilt.  The Twins took a chance, drafted him and received kudos all over baseball for being able to sign him. Waldrop could change speeds coming out of high school and was considered to have a very good feel for pitching.

Four years into his pro career, Waldrop is still looking for his breakout season. He just turned 22, so it’s too early to give up on him. But it’s time for him to step up.

Other players I’ve heard the Twins speak highly of over the years who are not protected include Erik Lis, Juan Portes, Yohan Pino and Ryan Mullins.

Any of these players can turn their pro careers around. But one or two of them might have to do it with another team next season.

So what are your thoughts about the 2004 draft? Some of you might have seen Rainville or Fox or Waldrop pitch in the minors.

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