The 2016 MLB will take place June 9, 2016 in Secacus, New Jersey and the Minnesota Twins will have the 17th selection this year. There are already numerous mock drafts being published but as normal they are all over the board, so what else is new. Here is a list (with pictures) on MLB.com of their proposed top 100 2016 prospects.
Baseball draft are so different from all the other sports in many ways but the two main differences that stand out is that baseball drafts are more international than other sports and if you get drafted in baseball you can look forward to spend a number of years in the minor leagues before you have the experience and necessary skill sets to play in the major leagues. Sure there have been some players that went directly to the major leagues but they are rare and the last player to do so I believe is RHP Mike Leake who was drafted eighth overall in 2010 by the Cincinnati Reds from Arizona State and now pitches for the Cardinals. The last Twins player to be drafted and go straight to a big league mound was LHP Eddie Bane who also was from Arizona State.
The June amateur draft is exciting for the fans but it is serious business for the MLB teams that have spent lots of time and money watching these young prospects as they try to determine who is the best player available when it comes time to make their selection. Mistakes in a draft can and do haunt teams for many years. There are many ways to mess up a draft choice, the player may not turn out to be as good as you thought, you might have bypassed a star player, you might not be able to sign the player, the player and/or his agent may state they don’t want to play for you, and of course an injury may cut his career short. If everything goes your way you have yourself a baseball player but the odds are stacked against you.
Everybody that knows that the pick you make in the first round is the guy you project to be the star, the player that can be an all-star player for you team for years to come but some times the best player of your draft turns out to be a lower round selection.
I have taken a look at Twins draft history since it first started in 1965 and I want to show you the best player the Twins selected and signed out of each draft ranked by WAR (from Baseball-Reference.com). Just because he was drafted and signed by Minnesota does not mean that he wore an Twins uniform during his big league career, it just means he started his career in the Twins organization. Here is a list of the best players that the Twins selected in the draft each season. As you get to the most current drafts you will see that no one from those draft years has made it to the majors as yet. I know the draft is an exciting time for some baseball fans but don’t count on seeing those players wearing your teams colors in the near future.
The Twins 1989 draft is probably their best ever with two ROY award winners and two pitchers that went on to win 20 or more games in a season. The 2012 draft has a shot at being one of the best draft class ever but we will have to wait and see how it pans out. So far no player drafted and signed by the Twins in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015 has had a sniff of the major leagues.
The Twins have had a number of bad drafts but the worst of the lot had to be 1983, the Twins drafted 31 players and only two players made it to the majors, Tim Belcher in round 1 and Bill Swift in round 2 but the Twins were not able to sign either player, a wasted draft for the Twins to be sure.
I am not doing this to determine the best or worst draft the Twins have ever had, I am just trying to provide you with a “best player of the Twins draft” each season regardless if it was with the Twins or not.
Other notable players that the Twins drafted but did not sign , one reason or another that went on to be good players in the majors were Del Unser (16.8) in 1965, Steve Garvey (37,7) in 1966, Al Hrabosky (10.6) in 1967, Rick Burleson (22.6) in 1969, Dick Ruthven (18.6) in 1972, Eric Show (15.9), Brett Boone (22.6) in 1987, Aaron Sele (20.6) in 1988, Gary Matthews (14.6) in 1992, Jason Varitek (24.3) in 1993, Travis Lee (7.6) in 1996, J.J. Putz (13.5) in 1998, Paul Maholm (12.1) in 2000, Jason Vargas (11.5) in 2001, Adam Lind (11.1) in 2002, J.D. Martinez (7.9) in 2006, and Kolten Wong (3.6) in 2008. To be fair to the Twins, many of these players chose college versus MLB to improve their lot in life.
MLB January draft 1965-1986
I know you are thinking I screwed up because you know that the Twins drafted Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett but he is no where on the list above, what gives? Here is the scoop, from 1965 through 1986 there was another draft that was held in January, which typically involved high school players who graduated in the winter, junior college players, and players who have dropped out of four-year colleges. Junior college players were required to wait until their current season was completed before they could sign. The best players the Minnesota Twins acquired from that draft were:
- 1966 – Tom Hall a LHP with a WAR of 5.8
- 1976 – Bob Veselic a RHP with a WAR of 0.5
- 1978 – Jesse Orosco a LHP with a WAR of 23.9
- 1979 – Ed Hodge a LHP with a WAR of -0.5
- 1982 – Kirby Puckett a OF with a WAR of 50.9
- 1986 – Mike Dyer a RHP with a WAR of 0.6
This January draft ceased to exist after 1986. In other years not listed above the Twins either didn’t select anyone or they came up empty.