Monday, May 22, 2017

Will Hunter Greene Haunt The Twins?

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
MLB's 2017 Draft is a little over two weeks away. Minnesota has known they have the first overall pick since last fall and the new regime will be doing their due-diligence as draft day approaches. With Derek Falvey and Thad Levine overseeing their first draft, there is a lot of pressure for the club to make the right pick.

The Twins have narrowed their list to a handful of players but it seems more likely that the club will be picking from a trio that includes college players Brenden McKay and Kyle Wright or two-way high school player Hunter Greene. McKay and Wright might be the safer picks because of their collegiate experience. Greene could be a once in a generation player on the mound.

At this point, it seems more likely for the Twins to select one of the safer college options. This leaves Greene, a player Sports Illustrated called the "star baseball needs," still on the board. Will passing on Greene haunt the Twins in the years to come?

Taking A Chance
There has never been a right-handed high school pitcher taken with the first overall pick. Greene could become the first but there are so many factors that come into developing a high school arm. He is a raw product whose edges would need to be refined over the next 4-5 seasons in the Twins farm system.

Organizationally, the Twins haven't had the best track record when it comes to developing pitchers. Kohl Stewart and Tyler Jay have both been taken with high first round picks since 2013. Jay was supposed to develop into a top flight starter but the Twins have already moved him to the bullpen. Stewart has shown flashes of being strong but his ERA is north of 5.00 at Double-A.

One of the reasons Falvey was hired by the Twins was to revamp the pitching staff. "He made it his, probably his passion, to understand pitching and the delivery," Indians manager Terry Francona told the Star Tribune. "We go to him a lot with questions. If he doesn't have the answer, he'll go find it."

When asked if there was a temptation of taking Greene, Falvey said, "We want to line it up and take the best player that has the best possibility to affect us long term, and sometimes that will be a high school player and sometimes it will be a college player." Falvey could want the challenge of developing Greene or he might have seen enough of him this spring to know that taking a chance isn't the right move.

West Coast Kid
Greene has grown up and played almost exclusively on the West Coast. With the Padres sitting with the number three pick, rumors have been swirling about Greene wanting to stay close to home. Baseball America reported, "The rumors of he and his family attempting to maneuver his way to the No. 3 pick with the Padres are a poorly kept secret."

Baseball America also stated, "The Padres' throwing program is more in line with Greene's program." Every young kid is going to want play near his friends and family. The weather in southern California would be a little more pleasant than the upper Mid-West. He'd also be part of a National League organization where he'd still have the opportunity to bat on a regular basis.

If Greene's family really doesn't want him playing in Minnesota, they could pressure the Twins with some high demands that might persuade the club into taking a college option.

Weighing The Cost
Because the Twins have the first pick and other high picks, they have the largest bonus pool in the draft. The Twins' top draft slot is set at $7,770,700 which is roughly $1.25 million less than what the Philles were slotted for with the top pick in last year's draft.

Baseball switched over to the current slotting rules five years ago. Dansby Swanson has been the only top pick to receive the highest signing bonus. In 2012, the Twins gave out the highest bonus to Byron Buxton after the Astros worked a deal with Carlos Correa. Houston was able to use the savings to take Lance McCullers and Rio Ruiz with some of their other early picks.

Since he is a high school player, Greene is going to want the highest bonus in the draft. Minnesota could do something similar to what Houston did in 2012. By signing McKay or Wright to a smaller bonus than Greene, the Twins could use that savings to go over slot on the 35th and 37th picks. However, the Twins might believe Greene is the best available player and take him no matter the cost.

What are your feelings as the draft moves closer? Is Greene going to haunt the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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