There is no Joe Mauer in this year's draft. But there is a highly-ranked catcher.
With the Twins drafting the number two overall pick in June, let's look at a number of players who they might be scouting right now.
With the draft just a few short weeks away, I am going to attempt to jump into a discussion that I have never, ever started before. Namely, a discussion about which prospects I like for the Twins in their given spot. This conversation will be more interesting now than it may have been at any other point in this site's life, simply because the Twins have the second overall pick, but hey: a first is a first.
A couple of things, just so you understand my philosophy in how I rank my selections.
- I will probably tend to value collegiate players higher, in part because this year's draft isn't seen to be that strong and so the uber-upside high school picks aren't really there at the top of the draft, but also because I see the next Twins wave of prospects being about two or three years down the line. I'd draft a player with the plan of having him ready to contribute to the Major League team by 2015.
- Injuries and current health are huge. It's not like I have a sliding scale in mind or can really rate these guys that objectively right now anyway, but an injury counts against a player.
- In general I will value a pitcher over a position player. Partially because I think pitching is where you start to build a team, and partially because the Twins have some pretty good position player prospects and not a lot of good, dependable pitching ones.
Steve Adams had a great run down on a number of options a couple of weeks ago. Be sure to check that out.
Kevin Gausman, RHP
LSU | 6-4, 185
Born: Jan '91 | L/R
Gausman throws gas. He sits around 97 with his fastball and can ratchet it up to 99 on occasion. As the scouting season has gone along, it sounds like he's improved on his other pitches as well. With LSU this year he's made ten starts, striking out 88 in 69 innings while allowing just 60 hits and 20 walks. He also induces ground balls, with just one home run allowed so far.
Richie Shaffer, 3B
Clemson | 6-3, 205
Born: Mar '91 | R/R
He's been called "the second best" hitter in the draft, behind Mike Zunino, but he's also been said to have the most upside of any collegiate bat in the draft as well. He's been rising through the ranks in recent weeks as his numbers stay high: .371/.515/.649 as a 21-year old junior. Shaffer also boasts a 44-to-30 walk-to-strikeout ratio this year.
Mike Zunino, C
University of Florida | 6-2, 215
Born: Mar '91 | R/R
Zunino is the best bat in the draft, and with good reason: he's a catcher who destroys opposing pitchers. He's hitting .328/.384/.639 in 48 games so far this season. Scouts seem to think he's a lower risk than some of the more popular pitchers, which only makes his "best bat in the draft" that much more desirable. If the Twins take a bat at number two, it's probably this guy.
Andrew Heaney, LHP
OSU | 6-2, 174
Born: June '91 | L/L
This southpaw has rocketed up the charts, thanks to what's been a very strong junior season at Oklahoma State University. In his first two seasons his results were mixed, but so far this year he's struck out 109 batters in 93 innings, posting a 1.65 ERA and .188 opponent batting average. All this in a conference that's known to be strong in baseball. His changeup is already a plus pitch and scouts believe the deception in his delivery will be an asset.
Mark Appel, RHP
Stanford | 6-5, 215
Born: July '91 | R/R
Appel is one of the more popular targets for the Twins, if you believe the pundits, but in spite of striking out 85 batters in 86 innings so far this season scouts don't think that ability will translate well to Major League Baseball. There's no deception in his delivery, meaning hitters get clean looks at the ball from the point of release. Still, he's relatively polished in terms of a fluid throwing motion, can throw heat in the mid-90s, and has decent stuff.
Five Left Out
Kyle Zimmer, University of San Francisco, RHP: Declining velocity, possibly due to a recent hamstring issue, and a shorter collegiate track record.
Byron Buxton, High School, OF: Believed to be the top prospect in the draft, but not a sure thing. Committed to Georgia; don't want to blow a pick on a guy who might end up in college. But he does, apparently, have 80 speed and an 80 arm. Twins do like toosly outfielders.
Carlos Correa, High School, SS: Scouts like to project him, but he's still just 17. Also one of Miami's recruiting class. Again: don't want to blow a pick on a guy who might end up in college. Drafting any prep player this high in the draft requires a team to be 100% certain that they won't go to university.
Stephen Piscotty, Stanford, 3B: Appel's teammate hasn't generated the power that scouts wanted to see at this point in the season, but they "see" the power. Might not stick at third.
Michael Wacha, Texas A&M, RHP: The most polished pitcher in the draft. Would be ready quickly. Typical Twins selection because he's close to being ready.