In a post published this week, SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee took us through an interesting thought experiment.
What if every MLB player remained on his first team for life?
As part of a season preview, Brisbee theorized about what each team might look like if it weren’t for trades and free agency. Some of it is fairly interesting, because admittedly I’d forgotten the starting point of some of the players I’ve now become accustomed to seeing play in other cities.
And then he gets to the Twins:
C A.J. Pierzynski
1B Joe Mauer
2B Brian Dozier
SS Danny Santana
3B Trevor Plouffe
LF Eddie Rosario
CF Byron Buxton
RF Denard Span
DH Miguel Sano
As someone who covers the Twins, I recognize all the names. But the team looks a little weak. Not that the offense or defense is that bad, they’re not. But that pitching staff leaves something to be desired.
Ervin Santana had to return to the Angels. Phil Hughes to the Yankees. Nolasco to the Cubs.
The thought experiment raises an interesting point.
Brisbee calls the Twins’ imaginary roster “one of the most hilariously imbalanced teams in baseball,” because of what appears to be a lack of good top-end pitching.
That brings me to my point: The Twins have been bad at drafting starting pitching for a decade.
Here’s a look at all the pitchers the Twins have drafted within the first three rounds of each of the past 11 June drafts, including supplemental picks:
|2015||Tyler Jay||(Kyle Cody)|
|2014||Nick Burdi||Michael Cederoth|
|2013||Kohl Stewart||Ryan Eades|
|2012||J.O. Berrios/ Luke Bard||Mason Melotakis/J.T. Chargois|
|2011||Hudson Boyd||Madison Boer||Corey Williams|
|2010||Alex Wimmers||Pat Dean|
|2009||Kyle Gibson/Matt Bashore||Billy Bullock||Ben Tootle|
|2008||Carlos Gutierrez/Shooter Hunt||Bobby Lanigan|
|2005||Matt Garza||Kevin Slowey||Brian Duensing/Ryan Mullins|
It’s difficult to say right now the success level of recent drafts. It’s too soon to say on Jay, for example, but he could be a big-league starter one day. The Twins were unable to sign Cody last year, and he chose to go back to school at Kentucky.
In recent years, perhaps dating as far back as the 2012 draft, the Twins have put an added emphasis on velocity and strikeouts in pitchers. That type of change doesn’t pay divdends at the highest level right away, but it could in the near future.
Nick Burdi could arrive at Target Field this year, but he’s a reliever. Kohl Stewart has yet to deliver on the promise of the No. 4 overal pick in 2013.
Berrios will be in Minnesota this year, and that’s looking like a good draft pick right now. I’ve heard that the Twins don’t think all other MLB teams had the diminutive former shortstop from Puerto Rico ranked that highly on draft day.
Melotakis and Chargois could contribute in the bullpen as early as this year or next.
Gibson is Minnesota’s No. 2 starter this year.
Otherwise, you have to go back to 2005, the Garza/Slowey/Duensing draft, to find one that produced big league starters for the Twins.
Obviously, the Twins can add talent in later rounds. And the ability to supplement a roster with trades and free-agent signings is an important component too. Furthermore, every team is going to have a certain percentage of its drafted pitchers flame out before contributing anything in the Majors. It happens. That’s why in some circles they’ve coined the acronym TNSTAAPP – There’s No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect.
Still, for the past 10 years, there have been an awful lot of swings and misses among pitchers the Twins drafted early.