Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Previewing the Twins' 2012 MLB Draft

The Twins were swept on Labor Day in a day-night doubleheader by the Chicago White Sox at Target Field. For the first time since 2000, the Twins could find themselves in last place in the Central Division at the end of the season. The positive side to finishing with a really bad record is the Twins would be positioned to have a very good draft pick in next June's first year player draft. After finishing in last during 2000, the Twins had the number one pick in 2001 and used that pick to draft Joe Mauer.

The folks over at MLB Trade Rumors have compiled a list of the draft order for 2012 by reversing the standings from the 2011 season. The Astros are almost guaranteed the first pick in the draft as they are close to having a double digit lead in the standings over the Orioles. After last night's games, the Twins are in line for the third pick in next year's draft. There is a close race among the top eight teams in the draft order. The Twins could play well down the stretch and find themselves with a pick later in the draft. On the other hand, the team could put together the same effort that has been shown lately and end up with as high as the second pick.

The Twins strategy is always interesting to watch over the course of the draft. It can be hard to predict what players a team will go after and what kind of relationship the team has developed with the talent that is available. The fans have seen some of the holes in the organization and it looks like pitching and infield help could be on the Twins draft list for next year. It will be interesting to see what kind of players the Twins target for 2012.

The order of the draft is something that is hard for even the experts to predict. Over the course of the rest of this fall and next spring, the players at the top of the draft board can change dramatically. For now, here is a look at some of the players that could be on the Twins radar for next June.

High school players to watch
Lance McCullers, RHP, Tamap Jesuit HS, Florida: His dad of the same name pitched in the big leagues for seven seasons. McCullers has been projected by some to be the top available player in the 2012 Draft. His fastball has been clocked in the high to mid 90s and he also has a plus curveball and change-up.

Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS, California: Giolito has a low-effort delivery and he has shown the ability to hit the mid-90s with his fastball. His favorite player to watch over the past year was the number one pick in June's draft Gerrit Cole from UCLA. There have been some control issues with Giolito and his commitment to UCLA could drop his stock.

Addison Russell, SS, Pace HS, Florida: Russell is arguably the best high school bat that will be available in next year's draft. He has the ability to play multiple infield positions and he has a tremendous arm that is a huge asset to his defense. His great bat speed and quick wrists will transfer easily to professional baseball.

College players to watch
Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford: If the draft was held today, there is a good chance that Appel would be selected as the number one overall pick. He has been one of the best pitchers in the starting staff of a college baseball powerhouse for the last two seasons. He pitched in Cape Cod League this summer and in three starts he only allowed three earned runs for a 1.35 ERA.

Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State: Marrero could be the best college position player available in next year's draft. He has shown tremendous defensive ability at shortstop and his bat projects well to the next level. The only thing holding the Twins back could be the fact the organization used their first round pick on a college infielder in 2011.

Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M: Wacha pitched in some big games this year for the Aggies and that experience should carry over to his junior year. There is still some room for development with his secondary pitches but he has the chance to be a future workhorse at the big league level. One of his strengths is his ability to pound the strikezone so he sounds like a player that fits the Twins mold.

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