The road to Minnesota is long and hard

long windy roadThe 2013 MLB draft is coming up on June 6-8 and baseball fans everywhere are excited about the draft and can’t wait to see what great players their teams will draft. Some fans will agree with the home towns team picks and others will complain loud and hard about how clueless the picks may have been. Certain fans spend a lot of time studying who is available to be picked and who will drop to their favorite team when it is their turn to pick. There are even fans out there that are more interested in the minors then they are in their major league team. I enjoy following the Twins minor league teams too but unless I lived in one of their minor league cities, I don’t understand the love affair with minor league players because if the player you are cheering for does well, he moves up the ladder and you no longer get to watch him play.

From 1965 when the free agent draft first started until 2012 each professional team has drafted about 50 players each year and signed what, maybe half of them? In 2012 MLB changed the June amateur free agent draft from 50 rounds to 40 rounds. Some of the players drafted are labeled “can’t miss” prospects while others will be long-term projects, they may come out of high school, junior college, or out of a 4 year college. Some of the picks may eventually find their place to the Hall of Fame one day while others may never even get a sniff of a major league spring training invite. Regardless where they come from, they all have the same dream, to get paid for playing a game they love. The road to the big leagues is a long and torturous one and most of the players that start this long hard journey will fail. The odds are long but as long as there is a chance, there will be players willing to sacrifice everything to get there. Players are often willing to risk it all, including their future health and a long life by taking drugs just to wear a major league uniform.

Feel free to get excited about Twins draft picks in 2013 but remember that the road to Target Field is long and bumpy and full of potholes that can take a player out of action for a day, a week, a month, a year, and maybe forever. Most importantly, no matter how good the player may be, it is unlikely that they will wear a Minnesota Twins uniform before their fourth year of professional baseball unless they are a collegiate pitcher. Miracles can certainly happen but history tells us that if Joe Mauer couldn’t get here in quicker than his fourth year, then the odds are pretty slim.

How many get drafted and signed?

I am not sure that most fans understand how few draftees actually ever get the opportunity to put on the major league uniform of the team that drafted them. To give everyone a better understanding of how few make it and how long the road can be I spent some time looking at the Twins drafts for the last 15 years (1998-2012). During this time period the Twins have drafted about 758 players (about 50 a year) and they sign maybe half of them. In the case of the Twins from 1998-2012 they have signed 372 players, 49.08% to pro contracts.

Some interesting and fun facts about the drafts from 1998-2012

  • Of these 372 players, 41 (about 11.02%) have reached the big leagues wearing a Minnesota Twins uniform and eight more (about 2.15%) reached the big leagues wearing a uniform of another big league team. That means that as of May 17, 2013, 13.17% of the players the Twins drafted and signed from 1998-2012 have put on a big league uniform. In addition, many of these players big league careers were very short.
  • Of the 41 players that debuted with the Twins, 20 were drafted out of high school and the quickest to appear in a big league game were C Joe Mauer and OF Ben Revere (both first round picks) in their fourth year of pro ball. On the end other end of the spectrum it took 38th round pick Tommy Watkins until his 10th year of pro ball before he put on the Minnesota Twins uniform. You really have to love baseball to be willing to put in that many years to achieve your goal of putting on a major league uniform. The 20 players drafted from high school were 13 position players, 5 RHP and 2 LHP.
  • Of the 41 players that debuted with the Twins, 4 were drafted out of junior college and the quickest to debut with the Twins were Rene Tosoni (round 36) and Terry Tiffee (round 26) in year five. The longest wait was for Willie Eyre a RHP who debuted in year eight. The 4 players drafted from junior college were two position players and two RHP.
  • Of the 41 players that debuted with the Twins, 17 were drafted out of a 4 year college and the quickest to debut were first round picks Matt Garza and Adam Johnson, both RHP who debuted in year two of pro ball. Having said that, Johnson pitched in 9 Twins games before being released and Garza pitched in 26 Twins games before being traded. The quickest 4 year college position players to debut were SS Brian Dozier an eighth round pick and C Chris Herrmann a sixth round pick in year four. First round pick RHP Matt Fox was on the slow and steady road and debuted in his seventh season of pro ball and pitched in just 1 game in a Twins uniform. Six days after he pitched for the Twins the Red Sox claimed him on waivers from Minnesota. The 17 players drafted from a 4 year college were 5 position players, 10 RHP and 2 LHP.
  • Only two pitchers drafted by the Twins in this time period have started 100 or more games, Scott Baker started 159 games and Nick Blackburn started 137 games.
  • The most wins in a Twins uniform for a pitcher drafted by the Twins during this fifteen year period is 63 for Scott Baker, second with 43 victories is Blackburn.
  • The Twins have only drafted three players that made an All-Star team, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau with the Twins and Evan Meek who the Twins released made the NL All-Star team with the Pirates.
  • The Twins have drafted two league MVP winners (Mauer and Morneau).
  • The top three home run hitters drafted by Minnesota between 1998-2012 are Justin Morneau with 206, Jason Kubel with 104, and Joe Mauer with 96. You know who is fourth? Trevor Plouffe with 38. Yikes!
  • The perception is that the Twins draft and “grow” their own players. But, the drafts from 1998-2012 have produced just ten regular position players and six of them are on this years team.  1B Justin Morneau, OF Jason Kubel, C Joe Mauer, OF Denard Span, 3B Danny Valencia, OF/1B Chris Parmelee, OF Ben Revere,  3B Trevor Plouffe, 2B Brian Dozier, and OF Aaron Hicks.
  • This years Twins staff has 3 pitchers the Twins drafted and signed between 1998-2012 on the current roster and they are Glen Perkins a first rounder out of a 4 year college, Brian Duensing a 3rd rounder out of a four-year college, and Anthony Swarzak a 2nd round pick out of high school.
  • The draft class of 2006 has produced the most players that have gone on to wear a major league uniform, as of today, seven players have made their major league debut and all were in a Twins uniform.

 

Drafts year by year

Year Drafted Signed Twins Debut Other Debut High School College
2012 43 27 0 0 0 0
2011 52 33 0 0 0 0
2010 50 31 0 0 0 0
2009 51 24 2 0 0 2
2008 52 24 1 0 1 0
2007 50 22 1 0 1 0
2006 51 19 7 0 3 4
2005 54 20 5 1 1 5
2004 54 25 6 0 3 3
2003 50 27 1 1 0 2
2002 50 18 3 2 3 2
2001 50 30 3 1 2 2
2000 52 25 5 0 4 1
1999 50 23 5 1 4 2
1998 49 24 2 2 1 3
TOTALS 758 372 41 8 23 26

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Details year by year

2012 – zero so far

2011 – zero so far

2010 – zero so far

2009 – Chris Herrmann was drafted in the 6th round as a C after 4 years of college and debuted with the Twins on 9/16/2012 in his fourth year of professional baseball. Herrmann has played in 7 games for the Twins and is currently in their organization.

2009 – Brian Dozier was drafted in the 8th round as a SS after 4 years of college and debuted with the Twins on 5/7/2012 in his fourth year of professional baseball. Dozier is currently the Twins starting 2B.

2008 – Aaron Hicks was drafted in the first round (14th overall) as an outfielder out of high school and debuted with the Twins on 4/1/2013 in his sixth year of professional baseball. Hicks is currently the Twins starting center fielder.

2007 – Ben Revere was drafted in the first round (27th overall) as an outfielder out of high school and debuted with the Twins on 9/7/2010 in his fourth year of professional baseball. Played in 254 games for the Twins before being traded to Philly after the 2012 season.

2006 – Chris Parmelee was drafted in the first round (20th overall) as an outfielder out of high school and debuted with the Twins on 9/6/2011 in his sixth year of professional baseball. Parmelee is currently with the Twins and starting in right field.

2006Joe Benson was drafted in the 2nd round as an outfielder out of high school and debuted with the Twins on 9/6/2011 in his sixth year of professional baseball. Still in the Twins system, Benson has 24 games in the books as a Minnesota Twin.

2006Tyler Robertson was drafted in the 3rd round as a LHP out of high school and debuted with the Twins on 6/26/2012 in his seventh year of professional baseball. Still in the Twins system, Robertson has 42 games on his Minnesota Twins resume.

2006Brian Dinkelman was drafted in the 8th round as a 2B after 4 years of college and debuted with the Twins on 6/4/2011 in his sixth year of professional baseball. Still in the Twins system, Dinkelman has 23 games on his Minnesota Twins resume.

2006Jeff Manship was drafted in the 14th round as a RHP after 4 years of college and debuted with the Twins on 8/15/2009 in his fourth year of professional baseball. Manship left the Twins as a free agent after the 2012 season and is currently in the Rockies system and to date has appeared in 41 big league games, all with the Twins.

2006 – Danny Valencia was drafted in round 19 as a 3B after 4 years of college and debuted with the Twins on 6/3/2010 in his fifth year of professional baseball. After playing in 273 games for the Twins he was traded to the Red Sox in August 2012 where he appeared in just 10 games before the Red Sox sold him to the Baltimore Orioles and Valencia is in their system today.

2006Anthony Slama was drafted in the 39th round as a RHP after 4 years of college and debuted with the Twins on 7/21/2010 in his fourth year of professional baseball. Still in the Twins system, Slama has 7 games on his Minnesota Twins resume.

2005 – Matt Garza was drafted in the 1st round (25th overall) as a RHP after 4 years of college and debuted with the Twins on 8/11/2006 in just his second year of professional baseball. Garza pitched in 26 games for the Twins before they traded him to Tampa in November 2007. Garza was eventually traded to the Cubs where he is today. Garza has a total of 170 big league games under his belt.

2005Kevin Slowey was drafted in the 2nd round as a RHP after 4 years of college and debuted with the Twins on 6/1/2007 in his third year of professional baseball. Slowey pitched for the Twins in 100 games before being traded in December 2012 to the Rockies. The Rockies quickly moved him to the Indians where he spent 2012 in the Indians organization and left as a free agent after the 2012 season to sign with the Marlins where he is currently pitching.

2005 – Brian Duensing was drafted in the 3rd round as a LHP after 4 years of college and debuted with the Twins on 4/10/2009 in his fifth year of professional baseball. Duensing is currently with the Twins and has pitched in 183 games wearing a Twins uniform.

2005Alex Burnett was drafted in round 12 as a RHP out of high school and debuted with the Twins on 4/8/2010 in his sixth year of professional baseball. Burnett pitched in 174 games for the Twins before being waived this past March and picked up by Toronto. Toronto waived Burnett after about 2 weeks and the Orioles claimed him and he is currently in their system.

2005 – Rene Tosoni was drafted in round 36 as an outfielder out of a junior college and debuted with the Twins on 4/28/2011 in his fifth year of professional baseball. Tosoni appeared in 60 games for the Twins before leaving the organization as a FA in November 2012.

2005 – Steve Tolleson was drafted by Minnesota in the fifth round as a shortstop after 4 years of college. Tolleson was claimed on waivers by the A’s in February 2010 and made his big league debut with Oakland on 4/28/2010 in his sixth year of professional baseball. Todate Tolleson has appeared 54 big league games with the A’s and Orioles now finds himself in the White Sox organization.

2004 – Trevor Plouffe was drafted in the 1st round (20th overall) as a SS out of high school and debuted with the Twins on 5/21/2010 in his seventh year of professional baseball.  Plouffe is currently the Twins starting 3B.

2004 – Glen Perkins was drafted in round 1 (22nd overall) as a LHP after 4 years of college and debuted with the Twins on 9/21/2006 in his third year of professional baseball. Perkins is currently the Twins closer.

2004Kyle Waldrop was drafted in the 1st round (25th overall) as a RHP out of high school and debuted with the Twins on 9/5/2011 in his eighth year of professional baseball. Waldrop pitched in 24 games before being granted FA in November 2012. Waldrop is currently in the Pirates organization.

2004 – Matt Fox was drafted in the 1st round (35th overall) as a RHP after 4 years of college and debuted with the Twins on 9/3/2010 in his seventh year of professional baseball. Fox pitched in one game for Minnesota before being claimed on waivers by the Reds Sox in September 2010 where he pitched only 3 times before being waived and claimed by the Mariners.

2004 – Anthony Swarzak was drafted in the 2nd round as a RHP out of high school and debuted with the Twins on 5/23/2009 in his sixth year of professional baseball. Swarzak is currently a Twins reliever.

2004Matt Tolbert was drafted in the 16th round as a SS after 4 years of college and debuted with the Twins on 4/1/2008 in his fifth year of professional baseball. Tolbert appeared in 247 games as a Twins before being granted FA in October 2011. Tolbert spent a year in the Cubs organization and is now with the Phillies organization.

2003 – Scott Baker was drafted in the 2nd round as a RHP after 4 years of college and debuted with the Twins on 5/7/2005 in his third year of professional baseball. Baker pitched in 163 games for the Twins before sitting out 2012 with TJ surgery. Baker left the Twins after 2012 and signed with the Cubs but is currently on their Disabled List.

2003Levale Speigner was drafted in the 14th round as a RHP after 4 years of college and was selected from the Twins as a Rule 5 pick by the Nationals in December 2006 and made his big league debut with Washington on 4/2/2007 in his fifth year of pro ball. The Nats returned Speigner to the Twins in June 2007 but worked a trade with Minnesota and reacquired Speigner a few days later.

2002 – Denard Span was drafted in the 1st round (20th overall) as an outfielder out of high school and debuted with the Twins on 4/6/2008 in his sixth year of professional baseball. Span appeared in 617 games for the Twins before being traded to the Nationals after the 2012 season.

2002Jesse Crain was drafted in the 2nd round as a RHP after 4 years of college and debuted with the Twins on 8/5/2004 in his third year of professional baseball. Crain appeared in 376 games, all in relief, before leaving Minnesota and signing a free agent deal with the White Sox where he has pitched ever since.

2002Pat Neshek was drafted in the 6th round as a RHP after 4 years of college and debuted with the Twins on 7/7/2006 in his fifth year of professional baseball. Neshek pitched in relief in 132 games for the Twins before being claimed on waiver by the Padres. After leaving the Padres, Neshek was in the Orioles organization before being purchased by the Oakland’ A’s where he is currently pitching.

2002 – Evan Meek was drafted in the 11th round as a RHP out of high school. After 3 years in the Twins system in which Meek had pitched 97 innings and walked 100 batters and struck out 84, the Twins had seen enough and released him in June 2005. Meek hooked on with the Padres and eventually moved on to the Pirates where he made his big league debut on 4/2/2008 in his sixth year of professional baseball. In 2010 he made the NL All-Star team. Meek is currently in the Rangers organization.

2002 – Kyle Phillips was drafted in the 1oth round as a C out of high school but was released by Minnesota in April 2006. Phillips caught on with the Brewers but they too released him and he joined the Blue Jays and made his major league debut on 9/14/2009 in his eighth season of pro ball. In total, Phillips played in 5 games for the Blue Jays in 2009 and 36 games for the Padres in 2011 and is no longer in baseball.

2001 – Joe Mauer was drafted in the first round and first overall as a C out of Cretin-Derham Hall High School and debuted with the Twins on 4/5/2004 in his fourth year of professional baseball. Mauer has appeared in 866 games for the Twins. Mauer has been a league MVP and 5 time All-Star.

2001Jose Morales was drafted in the third round as a SS out of high school and debuted with the Twins on 9/8/2007 in his seventh year of professional baseball. The Twins converted Morales in to a catcher in 2003. Morales appeared in 96 games for Minnesota before being traded to the Rockies after the 2010 season. After leaving Colorado, Morales was in the Pirates organization for a while but is not currently affiliated with a major league team.

2001 – Nick Blackburn was drafted in the 29th round as an RHP out of a junior college and debuted with the Twins on 9/3/2007 in his sixth year of professional baseball. Blackburn has pitched in 145 games for the Twins, mostly as a starter. Blackburn is currently rehabbing an injury and is not currently on the Twins 40 man roster.

2001 – Kevin Cameron was drafted in the 13th round as a RHP after 4 years of college and claimed by the Padres in December 2006 as a Rule 5 draftee. Wolfe made his big league debut on 4/5/2007 with the Padres in his seventh year of professional baseball. Cameron’s big league career lasted 69 games from 2007-2009.

2000 – Adam Johnson was drafted in the 1st round and second overall as a RHP after 4 years of college and debuted with the Twins on 7/16/2001 in his second year of professional baseball. Johnson appeared in 9 games for the Twins between 2001 and 2003 and was released by Minnesota after the 2004 season. Johnson played for the Arizona and Oakland organizations but never again reached the big leagues and was out of pro ball after 2006.

2000 – J. D. Durbin was drafted in the 2nd round as a RHP out of high school and debuted with the Twins on 9/8/2004 in his fifth year of professional baseball. Durbin pitched in 4 games for Minnesota before being picked up by the Diamondbacks on waivers in March 2007 where he appeared in one game. Durbin then became a waiver claim of the Red Sox but never appeared in a game there before he was again waived and picked up by the Phillies where he pitched in 18 games. 2007 was the last time that Durbin spent time in the big leagues. Durbin then spent time with the Dodgers organization, played in Mexico, Japan and several independent leagues and was once again signed by the Red Sox this past spring before again being released.

2000Jason Miller was drafted in the 4th round as a LHP out of high school and debuted with the Twins on 5/26/2007 in his eighth year of professional baseball. Miller appeared in just 4 games with the Twins and was out of baseball after the 2008 season.

2000Josh Rabe was drafted in the 11th round as an outfielder out of high school and debuted with the Twins on 7/17/2006 in his seventh year of professional baseball. Rabe appeared in a total of 38 games as a Twins and was granted free agency after the 2007 season. Played some independent ball in 2008 and then left baseball in his rear view mirror.

2000 – Jason Kubel was drafted in the 12th round as an outfielder out of high school and debuted with the Twins on 8/31/2004 in his fifth year of professional baseball. Kubel played in Minnesota through the 2011 season appearing in 753 games before leaving via free agency after the 2011 season and signing with Arizona where he is still playing today.

1999Rob Bowen was drafted in the 2nd round (Expos took Brian Phillips one pick later and the Pirates selected Ryan Doumit 3 picks later) as a catcher out of high school and debuted with the Twins on 9/1/2003 in his fifth year of professional baseball. Bowen appeared in just 43 games before moving on to play for the Padres, Cubs and A’s during his 5 big league seasons and 216 big league games.

1999 – Justin Morneau was drafted in the 3rd round as a catcher out of high school and debuted with the Twins on 6/10/2003 in his fifth year of professional baseball. Morneau was converted to full-time 1B duties in 2001. Morneau has been a league MVP and four-time All-Star and has appeared in almost 1,200 games for Minnesota.

1999Travis Bowyer was drafted in the 20th round as a RHP out of a high school and debuted with the Twins on 9/10/2005 in his seventh year of professional baseball. Bowyer pitched in 8 games for Minnesota and in December 2005 was traded to the Marlins for 2B Luis Castillo. Bowyer never pitched for the Marlins and was actually out of baseball for 7 seasons before surfacing with an independent league in 2012.

1999 – Willie Eyre was drafted in the 23rd round as a RHP out of a junior college and debuted with the Twins on 4/6/2006 in his eighth year of professional baseball. Eyre appeared in 42 games for the Twins in 2006 and was granted free agency after the season ended. Eyre went on to pitch for the Rangers and the Orioles.

1999 – Terry Tiffee was drafted in the 26th round as a 1B out of a junior college and debuted with the Twins on 9/1/2004 in his fifth year of professional baseball. Tiffee appeared in 91 games for the Twins between 2004-2006 and in 6 games for the Dodgers in 2008 but has been in the minors ever since.

1999Brian Wolfe was drafted in the 6th round as a RHP out of high school and released by Minnesota in May 2005. Wolfe was with the Brewers and Blue Jays organizations and  debuted with the Blue Jays on 5/30/2007 in his ninth year of professional baseball. Wolfe’s big league career lasted just 72 games but Wolfe has pitched in Japan since 2010.

1998Kevin Frederick was drafted in the 34th round as a RHP after 4 years of college and made his big league debut with the Twins on July 15, 2002 in his fifth year of pro ball. Frederick appeared in 8 games for Minnesota before being waived and claimed by the Blue Jays in March 2003 where he appeared in 22 games but that proved to be the end of the line as far as Frederick’s big league career was concerned.

1998 – Tommy Watkins was drafted in the 38th round as a SS out of high school and made his big league debut with the Twins on August 10, 2007 in his tenth year of pro ball. Watkins appeared in just 9 games for the Twins and moved in to the Twins minor league coaching ranks after the 2009 season.

1998Saul Rivera was drafted in the 9th round as a RHP after 4 years of college and waived by the Twins in November 2001 and picked up by the Mets. Rivera debuted with the Nationals on May 25, 2006 in his ninth year of pro ball. Rivera pitched in a total of 249 big league games for the Nats and Diamondbacks between 2006-2010. Out of baseball today.

1998Juan Padilla was drafted in the 24th round as a RHP after 4 years of college and traded by the Twins to the Yankees as the PTBNL when the Twins acquired Jesse Orosco in September 2003. Padilla made his big league debut with the Yankees on July 16, 2004 in his seventh year of pro ball. Padilla appeared in 42 major league games between the Yankees, Reds and Mets.

Where do Twins players come from?

I mentioned earlier that the perception is that the Twins draft and groom the majority of their players. Let’s take a look at the players that most people today would consider the Twins top prospects. I will not include anyone here who has made his major league debut with the Twins and I will list the players in no particular order. Let’s take a look to see how the Twins acquired these up-and-coming stars. It just goes to show that the amateur free agent draft in June is not the only way to acquire talented young players.

3B – Miguel Sano – signed as an amateur free agent
OF – Byron Buxton – 1st round draft pick in 2012
P – Alex Meyer – acquired in a trade
P – Kyle Gibson – 1st round draft pick in 2009
P – Trevor May – acquired in a trade
2B – Eddie Rosario – 4th round draft pick in 2010
P – Jose Berrios – 1st round draft pick in 2012
OF – Max Kepler – signed as an amateur free agent in 2009
SS – Daniel Santana – signed as an amateur free agent in 2007

 

There are many ways to make up a 25 man major league roster, here is how the current 2013 Twins roster was assembled. On the position side, six players were drafted, four were signed as free agents, one was signed as an amateur free agent, one was acquired via a trade and one was picked up on the waiver wire. On the pitching side, four were signed as free agents, three were drafted, two joined the team via a trade, two were Rule 5 selections, and one was acquired via the waiver wire. The Twins line has always been that you grow the majority of your own players and you sign a few free agents to fill some holes. This years roster does not necessarily hold dear to that principal, maybe that is why the Twins will struggle to reach the .500 mark this season.

New draft strategy?

Maybe Terry Ryan and the Twins should change their draft strategy. All the so called draft experts out there are clamoring for the Twins to use their early picks on pitching help and don’t get me wrong, the Twins need good pitching. However; with the Twins poor history of drafting pitchers, maybe they should quit spending their high draft picks on pitchers and focus on drafting position players and then either put them in their line-up or trade them for proven pitching. You need to go with your organizations strength and the Twins scouts seem to find good hitting but pitching, not so much. Then you use Terry Ryan’s trading expertise to swap hitting for pitching. Then again, is the June amateur draft much different then the Powerball tickets I just bought? I spent my money knowing the odds were long but the carrot for the huge payoff was out there but this time I walked away empty handed. Fortunately, each of my Powerball tickets cost $2 and not several million dollars like a number 1 pick will probably cost the Twins. But you can bet your bippy I will try it again.

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