Draft Tendencies: Minnesota Twins

Scout's Lead MLB draft analyst Jeff Ellis begins a 30 part series looking at the recent draft history and tendencies of every team in major league baseball. The first team up is the Minnesota Twins who own the top pick in the 2017 draft.

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Over the years I have been a big proponent of looking at historical tendencies for teams instead of listening to the rumors that often get associated with teams. I am not going to say teams lie, but sometimes the information that comes from them will be less than honest. 

A classic case of this I can think of was in 2015 when myself and at least three other sites all had the same player listed going to the Angels. The Angels made a surprise pick with Taylor Ward, and ended up passing on the player who had been linked to them twice. I had a good source and I am sure everyone else did.

So why do teams float misinformation in a draft with no trades and no changing draft order? They do this because they hope players fall to a later rounder and possible take a lesser bonus. The last two years for instance the Indians have given a pair of players taken after the first round top 25 signing bonuses in the draft. They were able to offer top dollar to these players so they agreed to tell other teams no and slid to where the Indians were selecting. 

I can also tell you on the day of the draft last year I was getting a rumor every five minutes, and less than half were true hence why tendencies are so important to my process of trying to figure out what teams will do on draft day.

I debated where to start with this series and ended up deciding to start at the top.

Now the problem with starting with the Twins is that they have an entirely new front office. I have no data to look at for how this front office will evaluate players and what their preference is for the draft. 

My attempt then goes to looking at the histories of the organizations that the new front office members came from. This approach often works well but is far from perfect. One has to look no further than Matt Klentak and the Phillies to see a general manager can go about things in a different way than the organization they came from.

The Twins new front office is being helmed by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. The combination of these two people from two different organizations though gives me a lot of information.

Falvey is from the Indians and Levine is from the Rangers and there are some strong commonalities between both of these front offices. It is a bit uncommon for a new president of baseball operations to not hire a general manager from within the organization they came from. Yet I think these commonalities are part of the reason why Falvey went outside his organization for a general manager hire.

If I were to make a list of organizations which look at ceiling first and foremost the past few years I would put the Indians and Rangers near the top. There has been a focus on tools and upside along with age relative to draft class that has stood out with both organizations. This view is actually very similar to the same one as the former Twins front office had when it came to the draft.

Now there are certain areas that one can look out and eliminate a whole subset of players that a team is unlikely to consider in round one or even the top ten rounds in general. The pool system makes the draft so different than any other sport. A team has to figure out how they will spend and who they view as the top targets for their pool money. There are areas that teams often take a hard stand on or just avoid when drafting. These areas are I look at for such information height, relative class age, location, and level.

I mentioned age relative to draft class earlier, and this is something to watch here. The Indians have shown a heavy preference here and the Rangers have as well though not as extreme as the Indians. I would be surprised if the Twins drafted a high school player who is 19 before the draft using the tendency information.

I know most people see a person who is six feet and think that is a tall person, not so much in baseball. I would argue 6’2” and smaller is often viewed as below average more so for pitchers but works for hitters as well unless they play short, center, or second. There is an even bigger divide when it comes to players who measure below 6’. Now this is an interesting area for the Twins. The Rangers have preferred taller players when they draft. They have not been afraid to take a smaller player but the preference is there. The Indians on the other hand have seemed at points to go out of their way to draft smaller players almost like there was extra value in such players. I would think this is a front office that will take the best player regardless of height.

When I mention location I am looking at states or regions teams tend to focus on early. The Rangers are notorious for drafting high school players from Georgia. They also dipped in the Florida prep ranks a year ago. The Indians had been very heavy in the Florida prep ranks until last year. They have also taken two high first round picks from the Georgia ranks in the last five years. I would expect them look at Florida and Georgia in this class, but every team will so that's no surprise. I will go out on a limb and say I expect them to draft one Georgia prep player in the top 10 rounds.

When I look at the level for teams I mean the high school, JUCO, and college ranks. The Rangers and Indians have leaned heavily towards the high school ranks for players early on. This has not been an exclusive approach for either team. Both teams have taken a college talent with their top pick in the past three drafts when a college talent fell to them who could have gone earlier. I would expect an upside pick with the top pick in the draft. When one looks at the top talent, as of now, listed for the draft the clear high ceiling guys are Hunter Greene and Jordon Adell. At the same time if a college player emerges I would fully expect the Twins to draft that player.

If I was doing a mock I would lean Greene, even though a prep right hander has never been the top pick. The combination of ceiling, tools, athleticism, and youth all fit. I cannot stress strongly enough how early it is though. If a Kyle Wright or Tanner Houck for instance takes a jump this year then that player would likely be the pick. I can look at history, but right now the future specifically what happens this spring more than anything else will determine the top pick. The Twins have a young, smart front office and while they seem to have preferences there is little doubt they will take the best player no matter the circumstances this June.

Minnesota Twins Hunter Greene Jordon Adell

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