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Over the past decade, Twins have been bad at drafting starting pitchers

Minnesota Twins pitcher Matt Garza throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007, in Chicago. The Sox defeated the Twins 8-7. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

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


Danny Valencia
Aaron Hicks
Yangervis Solarte
Ben Revere
Kennys Vargas


Kyle Gibson
Matt Garza
Tyler Duffey
Yohan Pino
Jose Berrios


Glen Perkins
Pat Neshek
Liam Hendriks
Michael Tonkin
A.J. Achter
Scott Baker

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:

Round: 1 2 3
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
2006 Tyler Robertson
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.

  • Jim in Roseville

    Why did you stop at 10 years? Why not expand to 20? It a question whether they are worse at drafting SS’s or starting pitching. I would say it’s neck and neck.

  • johnnygringo

    why not look at the entire rign of King Curly Ryan…it should be noted…Terry (Curly) Ryan was a soft tossing pitcher, who didnt make it out of AA ball…Most believe that is why for 20 years the Twins chased controll type pitchers, because Curly thought if he hadnt been hurt, he could have been great…Sadly Curly Ryan had niether controll or velocity, and has been a horrible GM

  • ogredragon

    When was the last Ace drafted by the Twins? Have they Drafted any # 2 starters since Ryan in the first Round? # 3s in the first Round. Twins First Pick pitchers since 1994: 95- Mark Redmond L, 98 Ryan Mills L ( Ryan has as thing for all players named Ryan check out how many Ryan names have been on the Twins under Ryan), 00 Aaron Heilman R, 00 Adam Johnson R, 04 Jay Rainville R, 04 Matt Fox R, 04 Kyle Waldrop R, 04 Glen Perkins L, …

    ( I think i copied it right)

    • RegularJoe62

      When was the last ace drafted by any other team? Do you really think any team can draft an ace pitcher every year? You could probably count on your fingers the number of true aces active right now in all of MLB, and that represents close to two decades of drafts by 32 teams. And the names. Seriously? Ryan was among the top 20 most popular boys names every year from 1980 until at least 1999, and probably beyond. Is it really surprising that there are lot of Ryans drafted?

      • ogredragon

        ” Do you really think any team can draft an ace pitcher every year?”.. if you are going to whine at me I suggest getting the facts straight, since i never claimed that he should have drafted a Ace every Year. But in 22 years as GM and “Special Advisor on talent” He has not Drafter an Ace Pitcher. Most of his pitching has come from round 2 or below… what the statistical guys are calling Guessing…

        • RegularJoe62

          If you’re going to hold him responsible for things that happened when he wasn’t GM, are you also going to credit him for being the #2 man when MacPhail built two World Championship teams. And drafting pitchers is always guessing, even in the first round.

          • ogredragon

            he had no decision making authority under MacPhail. He has since he was appointed GM and then appointed himself “special”… 22 years

          • PhiloBeddoe

            Very much responsible. When he quit in 2007 as GM, he took on the title as ‘Senior Adviser’ with the team and remained in that position till he showed B. Smith the door. Do you really think the owners would allow Smith to negotiate Maurer’s contract in 2010? Didn’t think so. Many bad moves and trades with a smidgen of goods also. But time has passed him by–long ago, so move on TR, you’ve been a complete screw up.

  • RegularJoe62

    There are two solid MLB starters in there, although Garza was traded before he did much here. Berrios looks like he’ll enter the rotation this year. The others are still too new to know. That’s three hits and three misses on first round picks, with the three misses all in the bottom half of the draft order. Gutierrez was a 27th pick. Wimmers 21st. Boyd 55th. The question is, how have other teams done over the same period? Picking prospects is always a lot of guesswork and most GMs will have more misses than hits. Remember Mark Prior, anyone? Number 2 pick overall, and would have been #1 if any team other than the Twins had the first pick. Where is Prior now?


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