It is way to early to start thinking about the MLB draft, especially with real, meaningful baseball being played. But it probably does not hurt to start familiarizing ourselves with some of the names that might be floating around the top of the pre-draft rankings. If the draft was to start today, the Twins would find themselves with the third overall selection. Here are the first 6 of 11 potential first round draft picks the Twins could take in 2013.
Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford
Appel is back in the draft for the third time after being selected in the 15th round by the Detroit Tigers in the 2009 draft, and again by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round (8th overall) by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has a fastball that sits in the mid 90s and a nice looping slider that devastates right handed batters. Appel will be 22 next July and with the current state of Minnesota’s pitching staff, he would instantly become one of the best pitchers in the organization.
Ryne Stanek, RHP, Arkansas
Stanek was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft by the Seattle Marinersbut chose instead to attend college at the University of Arkansas. From his Arkansas Razorbacks profile, he has a low 90s fastaball and a “tremendous” breaking ball. He was 8-4 in 2012 as a weekend starter for the Razorbacks and was an All-SEC performer. Matt Garrioch at MinorLeagueBall.com says of Stanek, “One of the best college pitches I have seen over the last 3 years.” He’ll need another strong season in the SEC to move onto the Twins’ radar at the top of the 1st round, but with a big time need for starting pitchers, you can’t count him out.
Jeremy Martinez, C, Mater Dei HS (California)
Jeremy Martinez is ESPN’s number 1 rated HS prospect on the ESPN 60 list. He’s committed to playing for the USC Trojans in 2013, but if the Twins are looking down the road for a guy to replace Joe Mauer, Martinez could be their man. Power showcase.com lists his pop-time from home to 2nd base at 1.86 seconds, which is pretty quick no matter who you are (MLB average is usually right around 1.8-1.9). In 2011 he was one of just two juniors on the USA 18 and Under squad so he’s been a front runner for the 2013 draft for some time now. The Twins seem to like current Minor League catcher Chris Herrmann, but Martinez would have a much higher ceiling than any catcher in the Twins organization.
Austin Wilson, OF, Stanford
Austin Wilson was drafted in the 12th round of the 2010 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals but found his way to onto Stanford Cardinal squad instead of going pro. As a sophomore in 2012 Wilson hit .285 and lead the team with 56 runs scored and 10 home runs. He also walked 24 times and was hit 15 more, raising his OBP to .389. Wilson will need to cut down on his strike outs (44) without sacrificing any of his power to move up the draft boards prior to the 2013 draft.
Austin Meadows, OF, Grayson HS (GA)
Meadows is a big kid at 6′ 3″ and 200 lbs as a HS Junior and the number two ranked player on ESPN 60, and like the Twins 2012 first round draft selection, is also a toolsy outfielder from Georgia. He had a big junior season hitting .390 with 4 HR, 28 RBI and 19 steals, brining his team all the way to the Georgia 5A state semifinals. Meadows is also a great football player, but has decided his future lies in baseball and will forego his senior season on the gridiron to focus on baseball. He is, however, committed to Clemson, so any team that drafts him will likely need to offer him a significant signing bonus. With all of the outfield talent spread throughout the Twins’ farm system, I do not see them going after Austin Meadows, but Minnesota is a team that is not afraid to draft the best available player, regardless of position, so Meadows could end up being their guy with a strong senior season.
Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego
Bryant has been destroying West Coast Conference pitching for two yeasr hitting .366/.483/.671 over 110 games. Bryant was previously drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 18th round of the 2010 draft. Bryant does not play great defense, but he has pretty decent speed, hits for a lot of power (9 home runs as a freshman and 14 as a sophomore, to go along with 17 doubles each year), and walked more than he struck out in his sophomore season. The Twins may have found a long-term slugging solution at 3B in Trevor Plouffe, but Kris Bryant would fit into the Twins MiLB system with as much power as anyone other than Miguel Sano.
Like I said, it is still REALLY early to start thinking about the 2013 draft, but the the Twins season spirally quickly down the drain, it cannot hurt to look toward the future. Part 2 coming on Saturday.