Even though the current baseball season might not exactly be going the way the Minnesota Twins expected, the franchise is hoping to uncover a future All-Star in June's 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Owner's of the No. 2 overall pick with Houston in the top spot, the Twins automatically benefit from a solid draft class that includes a handful of elite prospects. The player currently projected to head to the Astros at No. 1, high school five-tool outfielder Byron Buxton, could very well prove to be a once-in-a-generation type prospect if he came to Minnesota. But for a Twins organization that remains desperate for top-end starting pitching, it's hard to believe they could pass up on a possible front-of-the-rotation ace atop the draft.
Stanford righty Mark Appel appears to be at the top of Minnesota's wish list, even if the Astros know this all too well and could easily snatch him up to bolster their lackluster future rotation. The 6-foot-5 Appel is already capable of flirting with triple digits on his fastball, and worked with the pitching coach who trained No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg during his time with Stanford. In many scouts' eyes he is the surest, most polished pitching prospect in the draft.
If Appel isn't the guy though, Minnesota could be tempted to look at University of San Francisco's Kyle Zimmer, another polished righthander projected to be selected near the top ten. Zimmer posted a 5-3 record and 2.85 ERA over 13 starts with the Dons this year, totaling 104 strikeouts in just 88 innings. He isn't expected to have quite the same upside as a kid like Harvard-Westlake High School's Lucas Giolito, however, who was a pitcher the Twins were absolutely smitten with until he injured his elbow recently and scared numerous scouts away.
Aside from taking a huge gamble on Giolito at No. 2, who still may need surgery down the line, it doesn't appear the Twins can go wrong with whoever they select in the second spot. Even catcher Mike Zunino from Florida could be the type of pick that sets a distinct tone for the franchise heading into the future. The flamethrowing Appel truly looks the part, though, and might be the smartest pick based on need assuming the organization opts to make pitching a priority.
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