Twins take conservative approach to draft

Published 9:52 pm Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Minnesota Twins took a swing at their strengths earlier this month.

Our home state ball club likely surprised more than a few people when they opted to select shortstop Royce Lewis with their No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 MLB draft.

Going into the draft Brendan McKay and Hunter Green, along with pitcher Kyle Wright, received much of the hype. Heck, Green has been called the next superstar and possible savior of baseball. And, yes, the Twins took a pitcher and let him go to the Cincinnati Reds.

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So it’d be easy to scoff and lambast the Twins for taking a shortstop ranked as the fifth-best prospect with the No. 1 selection, but that would be a shortsighted and simplistic response.

For Minnesota fans, complaining about and getting down on our teams is almost as much a tradition as baseball. The subject of the Twins came up in the office last week and people instantly jumped:

It’s early in the season.

They’ll bomb later.

Just give them time to lose and disappoint us.

No one pointed out the vast improvement they’ve shown this season: Miguel Sano is mashing at an all-star level and Jose Berrios’ looks filthy — like a future ace — when he’s on this year. Seriously, he’s fun to watch because his pitches dart all over the place.

But back to the draft. The hype around Green and the nature of Twins fascinated me. It just didn’t fit the bill of the Twins to me. Green and McKay both two-way players with the potential to play the field and pitch, but that potential brings a lot of hype, attention, controversy and concerns. Those are all things a small market team like the Twins just don’t need.

And even if someone like Green or Wright turn out to be worth the hype, it’s hard to argue with the Twins thinking for a number of reasons. Finances are the number on reason.

The Twins were expected to sign Lewis for a price below the slot value of $7.7 million, which makes a lot of sense because the Twins held the Nos. 35 and 37 picks and had a draft pool of $14.1 million for the first 10 rounds of the draft.

The Twins are essentially putting their eggs in three baskets instead of one.

Now I’m no baseball expert or pundit, but I love reading about the complexities and nuances of the game.

In “The Cubs Way,” author Tom Verducci explores the Cubs approach to building a winning team of young talent. Their No. 1 approach: They passed on pitchers early in the draft in favor of position players. Why? It’s next to impossible to predict which pitchers in the draft will translate into big leaguers, let alone aces.

Case in point: future hall of famer Clayton Kershaw, perhaps the best pitcher of this generation, was drafted No. 7, and Mike Trout, perhaps the best position player of this generation, was the No. 25 pick.

The Twins took a conservative approach and played to the strengths of their organization. Whether or not they’ll reap the benefits is anyone’s guess.