Scott Bultman, Stadium Journey

Minnesota Twins Draft Review Part 2

MLB lead draft analyst Jeff Ellis continues his look at the Minnesota Twins 2016 draft. This team he looks at the six players taken between rounds 2 and 5.

Earlier this week I started looking at the Twins draft picks for the 2016 draft click here for part one.

Here I will be looking at the next six players from this draft. This article covers all three second round selections plus the Twins picks in rounds three, four, and five. 

The first second round pick for the Twins was Ben Rortvedt, a catcher from the Wisconsin high school ranks. Rortvedt started the year with the Twins Gulf Coast affiliate before moving up to the Appalachian League. He had just 111 plate appearances between the two levels.

There was good and bad for Rortvedt. The good was that I was surprised by his low strikeout rate of just 9%. I would have expected a higher rate. The bad was he struggled as a hitter with making contact and getting on base. Rortvedt has power potential in his frame but had just three extra-base hits this year. Rortvedt is a wild card right now. There are questions about his position and hit tool. There is upside there and I was a fan of his selection. I also can recognize that he is a player who has a significant risk and could struggle to make it above AA.

Jose Miranda was a player I had such positive reports on, that I rated him higher than most. He was an extremely young player, who didn’t even turn 18 till after the draft. He spent the whole year in the Gulf Coast League and he struggled. He hit better than Rortvedt, but not by much. His strikeout rate was high as well.

Miranda is a lot like Rortvedt, a very young player with a high ceiling and significant risk. It’s going to be a few years before we really can make any definitive statement on either player. I expect both to start the year in extended spring training.

Akil Baddoo’s story is a lot like Rortvedt and Miranda. He is another very young player who stayed in the Gulf Coast League and struggled. He did show speed, swiping eight bases, which is his best present tool.

Baddoo didn’t turn 18 until August, and he was known as a hard worker with great tools. Of the three high upside high school players the Twins drafted in round two, I have the most faith in Baddoo. His speed and defense in the outfield give him the easiest route to the majors.

The Twins waited until the 4th round, pick 93 overall, to take a college player. Griffin Jax was a player I heard more about as we got closer to the draft. There were some concerns about his military commitment since he was from the Air Force Academy. This still needs to be figured out, but Jax ended up pitching eight innings, all from the pen, in the Appalachian League.

There is nothing to take from eight innings. Jax is an undersized right-hander, so there is a chance he might end up in the pen down the road. I could see that in his future, but think you have to give him every chance to start. Jax had pitched 105 innings this year for the Air Force Academy, so the Twins decided to shut him down after a few innings. As of now, there has been no change in my view of Jax.

I won’t lie, I love guys like Thomas Hackimer, and the Twins agreed with me. It is not often you see a sub six foot right handed reliever with low velocity and who is a senior sign for six figures, let alone 225K. I would say most players with a profile close to that one end up signing for about 5K. Hackimer was unhittable his last two years for St. Johns as a submarine throwing closer. He stands all of 5’10”, with velocity in the low 90’s.

The Twins dropped him right into A ball, and Hackimer continued to perform. Hackimer appeared in 21 games, saved five, and had a strikeout rate of 8.89. He might end up a right-handed specialist down the road, but there is a value in that role as bullpens become more specialized. This past year saw a pair of playoff teams trade for players with that exact profile when the Cubs got Joe Smith and the Red Sox acquired Brad Ziegler. Hackimer has a chance to be one of the first players from this class to get to the majors for any team. I expect he will start next year in high A and end it in AA. He has a chance within the next two years to help the Twins pen.

The last player to be covered in this half of the article is Jordan Balazovic. He is yet another extremely young player for the Twins in this draft. Balazovic didn’t turn 18 till the middle of September. He is also notable for being Canadian, which is one of the fastest growing groups in terms of number of players being selected in the Major League Baseball draft.

Balazovic had the most success of the players mentioned in this piece who played for the Twins Gulf Coast League affiliate. He started six games and appeared in two others out of the pen. It was all of 32 innings, but it is always positive to see a good performance.

The positive with Balazovic was that he posted a great walk rate this past season, with a walk per nine rate of just 1.41. He didn’t give up many hits and no home runs given up. He excelled, but there was one notable area of issue--his strikeout rate. It was 4.5 per nine while facing players his age. The lowest in the majors this year for a comparison among qualified pitchers was Martin Perez, at 4.67. Balazovic was another very young, upside pick for the Twins, who were focused early on ceiling and youth. Balazovic is a sinkerball guy who is more of a future innings eater type. There is mid to back end potential in his arm. I expect he will join the trio of second rounders, starting next year, in extended spring training.

Check back later this part 3. 


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