Reviewing the Minnesota Twins' Top Picks, 2002 - 2012

May 28, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe (24) hits a home run against the Oakland Athletics at Target Field. The Twins defeated the Athletics 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

How have the Twins done with their first selections in the draft the last ten years? Here's how everyone is doing so far.

At Twinkie Town last night we reviewed the community's top ten prospects, and it was very telling: the Minnesota Twins have some talent in the system. Of those top ten prospects however, one was a non-drafted free agent (Liam Hendriks) and two were international signings (Miguel Sano, Oswaldo Arcia). While it's fantastic that the Twins have been so active in the international market, the rules have changed. For a team that might need to rely more on their draft going forward, how well have they drafted in the last ten years?

Here's a hint: of the top ten prospects, only three are first round draft picks. We'll see them below, working backward from the draft just passed.

2012: Byron Buxton, 2nd Overall
GCL Twins (Rookie League)
Age: 18

For a guy who's supposed to be a sexy hybrid of the best and most athletic center fielders in the game, we just don't have a lot to go on quite yet. Here's what we said about him yesterday at Twinkie Town:

Buxton reported soon after singing with the Twins, picking up just one hit in his first eight games (1-for-27) before heating it up a bit over the last few games (6-for-18). There isn't much you can deduce here, and there really won't be anything to get excited about for at least a year or two, but I expect we'll be keeping a closer eye on Buxton than we have on any prospect outside of Miguel Sano.

Draft Grade: Incomplete

2011: Levi Michael, 30th Overall
Fort Myers (High-A)
Age: 21

Michael didn't log any time in the organization last summer, but so far this year has appeared in 78 games for the Miracle while hitting .234/.321/.312. His numbers have been consistent, good but not terrible, with the exception of May when he batted .168 with an OPS barely over .500. In April, June, and so far in July he's posted on-base percentages of .348, .341, and .341, so there's some good news.

For a collegiate pick in the first round who was considered to be relatively polished, the Twins would probably like to be able to push him to Double-A next spring. If the organization feels comfortable promoting him at a level per year he'll spend just three years in the system and make his MLB debut at 24, which is good even for a collegiate position player. The results aren't overwhelming so far, but it's still very early.

Draft Grade: Incomplete

2010: Alex Wimmers, 21st Overall
New Britain (Double-A)
Age: 23

Alex has had problems staying on the field due to both physical and non-physical issues. He had problems with command early in 2011, after a great debut in '10 of 15.2 innings at High-A. This year he made one appearance with the Rock Cats and that's been it, thanks to a partial tear of his UCL. He's taking the route of therapy and rehab as opposed to going straight for Tommy John surgery, which is what the next player on our list chose to do.

Wimmers, like Michael, was considered a pretty polished prospect when the Twins took him with their first round pick in 2010. It could be mean to give him a grade, but two years into his time with the organization things haven't panned out...even though it certainly isn't his or the organization's fault.

Draft Grade: D

2009: Kyle Gibson, 22nd Overall
GCL Twins (Rookie League)
Age: 24

Gibson has just started his rehab games, which means the "road to recovery" is officially open. Here's what we said about him last night:

On Tuesday, July 10, Kyle Gibson quietly made his return to the mound. He started, pitched one inning and allowed just one walk, with otherwise a clean slate, collecting a pair of ground outs. It's the middle of a long comeback road, but this is the part we've been waiting for. Gibson is back on the hill, and we wish him luck. He turns 25 in October.

Draft Grade: D

2008: Aaron Hicks, 14th Overall
New Britain (Double-A)
Age: 22

Sometimes players just don't click right away. But Hicks might be clicking now:

After another unimpressive stat line early in the year, Hicks has begun to pick up the pace a bit. He batted .288/.371/.424 and June and, so far in July, has hit .395/.477/.684. On the year as a whole he's put together an .811 OPS, stealing 19 bases in 27 attempts. If he's able to stay hot through most of the last half of his season, significant faith will be restored in his status as a prospect. He'll turn just 23 in early October.

Draft Grade: C

2007: Ben Revere, 28th Overall
Minnesota (MLB)
Age: 24

Some believe, some don't, but Revere is the first guy on this list where we're finally free to say we're seeing some results from the team's top pick. He appeared for a cup of coffee in 2010 at the age of 22, played a fair amount in 2011 while stealing 34 bases in 43 attempts, and this season he's batting .316 with a .350 on-base percentage while providing superior defensive range in the outfield and once again stealing bases successfully. Baseball Reference has him already pegged at 1.2 wins above replacement this season; FanGraphs has him at 1.4 wins above replacement. For a guy drafted 28th overall, that's pretty good value.

Draft Grade: B

2006: Chris Parmelee, 20th Overall
Rochester (Triple-A)
Age: 24

Considered to be the best power bat among prep picks that season, the Twins picked him with visions of a middle-of-the-order batter dancing in their heads. It's taken a while for the vision to take shape, and it may never take shape the way some of us hoped it might, but there's definitely something to see in Chris. One last time, what we said last night:

A strong September, a strong spring, and questions about how much of the field Justin Morneau could handle led to Parmelee earning a roster spot out of spring training, in spite of the organization being forthright in admitting you can't put too much into small sample sizes. His OPS was .562 at the time of his first demotion to Triple-A, and that didn't change too much in his second stint until hitting home runs in back-to-back games just prior to his second demotion.

Still: when Parmelee lost some of his power in the middle of his minor league career it was because the Twins wanted him to work on his plate discipline in an effort to up the quality of contact. It seems to be clicking at Triple-A: .328/.487/.603 in 19 games, with four home runs, 17 walks, and just 10 strikeouts. He's not likely to ever be a Morneau-in-his-prime first baseman, but there's something there.

Draft Grade: C

2005: Matt Garza, 25th Overall
Chicago Cubs (MLB)
Age: 28

Garza flew through the minor leagues, looked promising with the Twins for a short while, and then was traded to Tampa Bay along with Jason Bartlett and a minor league reliever for Delmon Young and Brendan Harris. The trade was not a good one, but you can't fault the draft gurus with that.

Draft Grade: A

2004: Trevor Plouffe, 20th Overall
Minnesota (MLB)
Age: 26

For the longest time it looked like this pick was a busted one, along with fellow first-rounders Glen Perkins and Kyle Waldrop, and supplemental first round picks Matt Fox and Jay Rainville. While Fox and Rainville did bust, Waldrop is knocking at the door and threatening to provide some value. Perkins has established himself as a premier set-up talent in the bullpen, and now Plouffe has exploded onto the scene with a Jose Bautista like burst of power.

There's a lot that remains to be seen here, but what we've seen so far this year is uber impressive. On his own merits, Plouffe may turn what was once viewed as a poor draft into a very, very good one.

Draft Grade: B

2003: Matt Moses, 21st Overall
Out of Baseball
Age: 27

Moses hasn't been involved in professional baseball, to the best of my knowledge, since his fifth and final go round at Double-A with the Twins back in 2009. Unfortunately things just never came together for Matt. It happens, and it doesn't make him a bad person. It just made him an unfortunate draft pick. It's worth noting that the only real apparent talents taken after him in the first round were Chad Billingsley (24th) and Adam Jones (37th, a supplemental pick). No other player drafted behind him in that round has cracked double-digit cumulative WAR.

Draft Grade: F

2002: Denard Span, 20th Overall
Minnesota (MLB)
Age: 28

After years of apparently not living up to his first-round billing, things eventually came together for Denard. Just like they're coming together for Plouffe (we hope) and Hicks (although perhaps earlier, in Aaron's case). Span has been a good leadoff hitter, at times a great one, and always has been a well above average center fielder in terms of range. He's a very valuable player, and has posted 2+ wins above replacement each year with the Twins (according to FanGraphs), and he's well on his way to posting his third 3+ win season.

Draft Grade: A

Overall, I have to say the Twins have done okay with their first picks of the draft in the last ten years. Span and Garza have clearly been the cream of the crop so far, but Plouffe, Parmelee, and Revere are just starting to make their marks on the game. Yet Moses was the only true and definite bust. Hicks may be on his way up. Gibson and Wimmers have things to work through. Michael and Buxton have only just begun.

If forced to give a grade for the picks these last ten years I'd give the Twins a C. What about you?

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