Here are the final results for my 2014 Minnesota Twins shadow draft and why I picked who I picked. The goals of Shadow Drafting are to HAVE FUN and FOCUS DEEP RESEARCH into amateur players beyond just the names that everyone knows.
My general strategy was "best player available" in the first few rounds, but in middle and later rounds my goals were:
A) physical left-handers who can start, which is something my Shadow Twins farm system is short on;
B) power bats;
C) pitchers of any kind with good control;
D) general diversity of position and background among players.
E) some bias in favor of Midwesterners and local talents in later rounds.
The draft ended up being extremely college heavy, which really wasn’t my intention to start off: there were several high school guys I considered in the early and middle rounds but they seemed to come off the board a few slots before I could get them, and by the middle rounds I didn’t feel like taking signability risks.
Ultimately the goal of the exercise is to have fun and serve as a focus for deep research into amateur players. And even in a bad year, those goals get met.
1) Nick Gordon, SS, Olympia HS, Orlando, FL
Selected by Twins in real life. I thought Gordon was one of the top position players in the draft, a middle infielder with a strong glove, speed, a good chance to hit, and outstanding makeup. I was happy to stick with him.
2) Nick Burdi, RHP, University of Louisville
Burdi was the top pitcher on my board when this pick came around, and apparently was the top guy on the real Twins board, too. After briefly considering one of the available high school pitchers, I stayed with the real pick.
3) Eric Skoglund, LHP, University of Central Florida
Real Twins went with Michael Cederoth. Skoglund doesn’t throw as hard, but he’s a polished 6-7 strike-thrower with some remaining projectability. Left-handed starters are a weakness in my Shadow Twins farm system and Skoglund was one of my targets. Selected by Royals in real life.
4) Austin Gomber, LHP, Florida Atlantic University
Real Twins went with Georgia Tech lefty Sam Clay, but I think he’s a reliever and I want starters. Gomber is similar to Skoglund: a tall lefty with (in my view) underrated stuff and a good performance record. I wanted either Skoglund or Gomber pre-draft but ended up with both. Selected by Cardinals in real life.
5) Shane Zeile, C, UCLA
I always draft at least one catcher in the middle rounds as building depth at that position is very important. Zeile is a good defender, has bloodlines, has a chance to be a decent hitter, and was more attractive to me than another relief pitcher drafted by the real Twins in Jake Reed. Zeile was drafted by the Tigers in real life.
6) Jose Trevino, OF, Oral Roberts University
The Real Twins went with University of Texas right-hander John Curtiss. I considered sticking with this but decided to go with Trevino, who impressed me in college with unusually good power from a 5-11, 190 frame, plus the athletic ability to play multiple positions including catcher and shortstop. I listed him as an outfielder but he could play anywhere. Drafted by the Rangers in real life.
7) Andro Cutura, RHP, Southeastern Louisiana University
Cutura was the Real Twins pick and I stayed with it because he was on my preference list of middle-round college pitchers. Great track record (1.95 ERA, 99/21 K/BB in 106 innings, high ground ball rate) and I think he has the stuff to back it up.
8) Grant Heyman, OF, College of Southern Nevada
Real Twins pick was University of Missouri right-hander Keaton Steele. I saw him in college and like him quite a bit, but I think he’s another reliever and I wanted more impact so I went with Heyman, drafted by the Diamondbacks in real life, who offers left-side power, decent speed, and a great track record with wooden bats in junior college. There was some signability risk here but I love his upside.
9) Nick Vilter, 3B, UC Riverside
Real Twin pick Max Murphy has good tools and power and is from Minnesota. I almost stayed with him, but ended up going with Vilter, who led the Big West in home runs and was drafted by the Padres in real life. I also considered Oklahoma City right-hander Chris Pike (drafted by the Rays) because of his name, great metrics, and low-90s fastball, but I had Vilter ranked higher on my preference list and stayed with that.
10) Javi Salas, RHP, University of Miami-FL
Real Twin Randy LeBlanc from Tulane is interesting and was on my list, but Salas ranked higher on my list so I went with him as an affordable senior from a top program. He was drafted by the Brewers in real life.
11) A.J. Ladwig, RHP, Wichita State University
Real Twins pick Tanner English has great tools but I am skeptical about his ability to hit enough for them to matter. I wanted more pitching here so I went with Wichita State control artist Ladwig (1.54 ERA, 73/17 K/BB in 105 innings), a tall (6-5, 190) Midwesterner drafted by the Tigers.
12) Emilio Ogando, LHP, St. Thomas University
The Real Twins went with Nebraska second baseman Pat Kelly, a Minnesota native. I had him on my preference list, but was still interested in adding college pitching at his point and Ogando ranked higher. He’s a small college guy with big numbers (104/17 K/BB in 85 innings) and enough velocity in the low 90s to be intriguing as a sleeper. Drafted by Royals in real life.
13) Chase Mallard, RHP, Univeristy of Alabama-Birmingham
I didn’t know much about Real Twins pick RHP Zack Tillery. I did know something about senior Chase Mallard, drafted later by the Blue Jays, so I stuck with my list. Subsequent research has revealed that Tillery is likely a better prospect, but it is too late to change now.
14) Chase Harris, OF, University of New Mexico
The Real Twins went with University of Buffalo 3B Tyler Mautner, another guy I knew nothing about. I stuck with my preference list and drafted Harris, who offers power and speed. He’s aggressive and played in a pro-offense environment but I think there’s some upside there. He went to the Phillies in real life.
15) Damek Tomscha, 3B, Auburn University
Real Twins went with Florida prep lefty Roberto Gonzalez. I stayed with the college ranks and went with Tomscha out of Auburn. He is an Iowa high school product who has power, hit well against good competition, and throws hard enough to become a pitcher if he doesn’t hit. He went to the Phillies two rounds later in reality.
16) Tyler Kuresa, 1B, UC Santa Barbara
Real Twins pick that I stayed with due to his power and his presence on my preference list in this general area.
17) Mat Batts, LHP, UNC Wilmington
Real Twins pick that I stayed with due to his command and his presence on my preference list in this general area.
18) Michael Nolan, LHP, Oklahoma City University
Real Twin T.J. White out of UNLV is an interesting infielder but I preferred physical 6-7 lefty Nolan, who was considerably higher on my list than White. He was drafted by the Athletics in real life. I have a report that he throws in the low 90s and throw strikes.
19) Richard Amion, OF, Alabama State University
Real Twin pick was Connors State catcher Jarrard Poteete. Looking to add more speed and athleticism to my collection of outfielders, I went with Amion who stole 86 bases in three years of college ball and draws walks, too. After studying it I think Poteete is the better prospect but it would violate Shadow Draft rules to change now. Amion was drafted by the Giants in reality.
20) Tim Zier, 2B, San Diego State University
Real Twins went with a high school third baseman named McCarthy Tatum. I went with San Diego State senior second baseman Tim Zier, who strikes me as a David Eckstein type, a contact hitter who plays above his tools. He was drafted by the Phillies in real life.
21) Sam Bumpers, 2B-SS, Lamar University
Real Twins pick was Minnesota junior college lefty Onas Farfan. I almost stayed with this, but ultimately went with Bumpers, later drafted by the Rockies. I was familiar with Bumpers because he played junior college ball in Iowa. I think now it was overkill to get both Zier and Bumpers, college seniors who will both wind up at second base.
22) Michael Hollenbeck, C, Illinois State University
Real Twins went with college reliever Trevor Hildenberger out of Cal. I considered this, but decided that I needed more catching and went with Hollenbeck, later drafted by the White Sox, who controls the strike zone and has developed into a decent defender.
23) Miles Nordgren, RHP, Birmingham Southern University
Real Twins pick I stuck with, a senior right-hander who I had ranked similarly due to his excellent control.
24) Kyle Kinman, LHP, Bellevue University
I considered sticking with Real Twins pick Alex Real, a catcher from New Mexico, but went with Kinman, later drafted by the Braves, an undersized but athletic Midwesterner who dominated as both a hitter and pitcher in college.
25) Taylor Hearn, LHP, San Jacinto College North
Real Twins pick I stayed with. He’s an athletic, projectable lefty but very raw.
26) Blake Schmit, SS, University of Maryland
Real Twins pick I stayed with since I had him ranked about this area. Minnesotan, probably overkill with Zier and Bumpers already on board but utility infielders come from somewhere.
27) Jason Hoppe, RHP, Minnesota State-Mankato
Real Twins went with Gabriel Ojeda, a high school catcher from Puerto Rico. I went with another Minnesotan here, later drafted by the Rangers, another pitcher with superior control (113/17 K/BB in 105 innings).
28) Bennie Robinson, 1B, Florida A&M University
Real Twins pick was Austin Diemer, an outfielder from Cal State Fullerton who runs well but has shaky plate discipline. I went with Robinson, later drafted by the Diamondbacks, who showed great strike zone judgment and some pop in college and looked good to me when I saw him on TV.
29) Luke Tendler, OF, North Carolina A&T University
Real Twins went with a high school pitcher from California here named Cameron Avila-Leeper. He wasn’t on my list, but Tendler was. He is similar to Amion who I drafted earlier, a fast guy who draws walks but didn’t play great competition. He was later picked by the Rangers.
30) Kyle Porter, LHP, University of California
Real Twins went with Mike Theofanopoulos, a lefty from Cal. I didn’t know much about him, but I did know something about his teammate Kyle Porter, who was later drafted by the Marlins. Porter throws just 86 MPH but has a great changeup and had a good senior year.
31) Sam Hilliard, LHP, Crowder Community College (MO)
Real Twins pick I stayed with, another big physical lefty who throws strikes. He’s probably going to Wichita State, but I like him and considered him as early as the 10th round. We’ll see if he signs.
32) Jamill Moquete, OF, University of Massachusetts Boston
Real Twins pick was Orynn Veillon, a high school pitcher from Louisiana I knew nothing about. I still had too many guys on my preference list to give up and burn picks on people I never heard of, so I went with Moquete, later drafted by the Orioles, who had a terrific season against admittedly weak competition.
33) Chad Reeves, LHP, Louisiana State University-Eunice
Real Twins pick was Trey Vavra, 1B from Florida Southern and son of the coach. I thought about this but instead went with Reeves, drafted by the Brewers, who has some command troubles but also has a live arm and fit my theme of wanting more lefties.
34) Anthony Azar, C, Sam Houston State University
Real Twins went with Mike Baumann, a local high school guy. I still had college guys I wanted and the next highest on the list was Azar, a senior who hit .368/.450/.543 with good strike zone judgment. I also had a good report from a source about his defense. In realty he didn’t get drafted at all. I don't know why, but he performed well enough in college to be a Johnny Bench Award semi-finalist. You'd figure a guy like that would interest someone but I guess not. Be interesting to see if he gets picked up as a non-drafted free agent.
35) Caleb Wallingford, LHP, University of Memphis
Real Twins went with another Minnesota prep, Brad Mathiowetz, a catcher. Again, I still had college guys on my list and went with Wallingford, drafted by the Angels, who is (sense a theme here?) a big lefty who throws strikes (2.44 ERA, 70/24 K/BB in 89 innings) and is from Nebraska.
36) Chase Raffield, OF, Georgia State University
Real Twins went with Kirvin Moesquit, a Florida high school infielder. And again, I still had guys on my college sleeper list to consider. I chose Raffield, drafted by the Cardinals, who showed devastating power in college (.368/.449/.650) but has a history of knee problems and isn’t toolsy.
37) Tyree Davis, OF, Centennial HS, Compton, CA
Raw tools outfielder I stayed with from the Real Twins draft.
38) Kavin Keyes, INF, Oregon State University
The Real pick was catcher Brett Doe out of Baylor. I saw him in college and I don’t think he’ll hit much. I’m comfortable with the three catchers I already have, so I returned to the college infielder overkill with Keyes, drafted by the Mariners in real life.
39) Cale Elam, RHP, Wichita State University
40) Pat Kaminska, RHP, Central Michigan University
I finished up with two strike-throwing no-fastball college seniors, neither drafted in real life. The Real picks were unsignable high schoolers John Jones and Dalton Guthrie.
Overall, I met most of my goals. I got a strong up-the-middle talent in Gordon, who was the best player available on my board at the time. I added physical lefties and got lots of guys who throw strikes. I got some power bats, and I got some cheap speed in later rounds.
The main thing I wanted that I did not get was at least one good high school arm early. I also wish I had a right-handed starter with higher upside in there somewhere. I love my strike-throwing college seniors but it probably went overboard.
I ended up with 10 real Twins, three Phillies, two Royals, two Cardinals, two Tigers, three Rangers, two Diamondbacks, two Brewers, and one player each from the Padres, Jays, Mariners, Angels, Orioles, Braves, Rockies, Marlins, White Sox, Giants, Athletics, and three guys who weren’t drafted.