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2016 Minnesota Twins Shadow Draft

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Here's my Minnesota Twins Shadow Draft for 2016. I have been doing this in one format or another since 1996. You can check the condition of the Shadow Twins system pre-season here.

Basic strategy this year was as follows:
***Best player available with first few picks, based on my own preference list with a lean to advanced college pitching.
***Focus on premium defensive positions: catcher, middle infield
***Cheap/affordable picks in middle and later rounds, with a focus on seniors with a strong tool, either notable power or notable speed, who could be bargains
***For the most part, college players should have strong metrics
***Lean to players in the Midwest in later rounds.

This list is slightly different than previous versions but now that the short-season leagues have started it will not be changed further.

1) Eric Lauer, LHP, Kent State University: Real Twins picked Alex Kirilloff, hard-hitting prep outfielder. I strongly considered this but I already have Andrew Benintendi and Clint Frazier and Max Kepler and I fell in love with Lauer over the spring.. He's a four-pitch lefty with stellar metrics who could be ready within a year. I do not think Lauer is a typical "polished" college guy; I think there is more upside there than people think, so I don't think I violated the "don't draft for need" rule. Lauer was drafted by the Padres in real life.

2) Ben Rortvedt, C, Verona HS, Verona, Wisconsin
CB) Akil Baddoo, OF, Salem HS, Conyers, Georgia
Rortvedt and Baddoo were two of my favorite high school players in the draft. The Real Twins picked them and I agreed with those decisions so I stayed with them. Rortvedt was the most balanced prep catcher in the draft while Baddoo is a tools hound with leadoff potential. I'm surprised he wasn't drafted earlier.

3) Zac Gallen, RHP, University of North Carolina: Real Twins pick was Griffin Jax out of Air Force. He has a better arm than Gallen, who was drafted by the Cardinals in real life, but I wasn't sure about Jax's military commitment and went with Gallen on draft day. That's apparently not an issue as the Twins have signed him, but I decided not to change. As for Gallen, he has a tremendous feel for pitching.

4) Connor Justus, SS, Georgia Tech:
Real Twins pick was Thomas Hackimer, a RHP senior from St. John's. I went with Justus, drafted in the fifth round by the Angels. He can stay at shortstop, made progress with the bat this year, and fills the "premium defensive position" theme.

5) Jordan Balazovic, RHP, St. Martin’s SS, Mississauga, Ontario:
This was a Real Twins pick I stayed with, an ultra-projectable cold-weather prep. I have no idea if he's signable but Howard Norsetter usually knows what he's doing. I'll accept whatever happens here.

6) Gio Brusa, OF, University of the Pacific: Real Twins picked RHP Alex Schick from California. I could not resist the switch-hitting power of Gio Brusa, drafted by the Giants in real life, nor his affordability as a senior.

7) Michael Cruz, C, Bethune-Cookman University:
Real Twins picked Matt Albanese, an outfielder from Bryant. He has excellent numbers but I prefer Cruz, who is a power bat from the left side. He may wind up a first base but his power tool seems more standout to me. Cruz was drafted by the Cubs.

8) Dalton Sawyer, LHP, University of Minnesota:
Real Twins went with junior college power-hitter Shane Carrier. I strongly considered this, but thinking about the money (and lack of arms with the earlier picks) I went with another senior, this one local, who has a live arm and pitched well this year. Sawyer went to Oakland in the ninth round in reality.

9) Reggie McClain, RHP, University of Missouri:
Real Twins went with University of California catcher Mitchell Kranson. He can hit but has a doubtful glove I already have a guy like that with Cruz, so I went with McClain, an extremely polished strike-thrower.

10) Brandon Lopez, SS, University of Miami-Florida:
Real Twins pick I stayed with. More infield depth.

11) Francisco Del Valle, OF, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy: Real Twins pick was Tyler Benninghoff, very talented prep arm with injury issues. I'm not the Nationals so I went with a bat here; Del Valle is just 17 and has shown power potential with good plate discipline. He went in the 14th round to the Angels in real life.

12) Michael Hickman, C, Chipola Junior College:
Real Twins pick was junior college outfielder Zach Featherstone. I don't know anything about him, but I do know about Hickman, drafted by the White Sox in the13th round, who is a bit raw with the glove but has a strong arm and big power from the left side.

13) Alex Wojciechowski, 1B, University of Minnesota-Duluth:
Real Twins pick was University of California RHP Ryan Mason. I went with senior Woj instead, drafted in the 15th by the Phillies, because he's local and put up huge numbers. Mason is probably more valuable but this was more fun.

14) Vincent Jackson, OF, University of Tennessee
: Real Twins pick was power-hitting shortstop Andre Jernigan out of Xavier. He has power and strikeout issues, but Jackson (who went to the Cardinals in real life) has broader tools and played against tougher competition.

15) Dustin Beggs, RHP, University of Kentucky:
Real Twins picked RHP Tyler Wells from Cal State San Bernadino. I knew more about Beggs, drafted in the 16th round by the Marlins, a successful SEC strike thrower.
16) Cody Ramer, SS, University of Arizona:
17) Kyle Hart, LHP, Indiana University

18) Will Hibbs, RHP, Lamar University
19) Kevin Hill, RHP, University of South Alabama
Here's more up-the-middle depth plus three college senior pitchers with good track records. Ramer has a utility profile but has hit well with wood, while Hart, Hibbs, and Hill sounds like a law firm, albeit one that throws strikes. Nothing overly exciting but I simply knew more about these guys than their Real Twins counterparts.


20) Malique Ziegler, OF, North Iowa Community College
21) Joel Booker, OF, University of Iowa
22) Dariel Rivera, RHP, Dr.Juan J. Osuna HS, Caguas, Puerto Rico
23) J.J. Gould, SS, Jacksonville University
24) Tra’Mayne Holmes, 2B, George Wallace Community College
25) Nick Roscetti, SS, University of Iowa
Ziegler, Booker, and Roscetti were successful college guys from my old stomping grounds in Iowa. Ziegler and Booker run well and have hit at times, while Roscetti is a good fielder. Rivera is a very projectable Puerto Rican arm while Holmes is a toolsy junior college player who caught my eye. 

26) Cole Gruber, OF, University of Nebraska-Omaha
27) Nathan Bannister, RHP, University of Arizona
28) Joey Roach, C, Georgia State University
29) Jordan Jess, LHP, University of Minnesota
30) Quin Grogan, RHP, Lewis-Clark State University
Grogan was a Real Twins pick; the rest were college guys I was simply more familiar with than their real parallels. Gruber is another Midwesterner who can run and field, Roach has a good defensive rep, Bannister pitched well despite lack of plus velocity.

31) Wilson Adams, RHP, University of Alabama-Huntsville
32) Jarrett Costa, C, Westmont College
33) Trenton Hill, LHP, Lee University
34) Joe Cronin, SS, Boston College
35) Sean Isaac, RHP, Vanguard University
Cronin was a real Twin. The others put up big numbers against small college competition.

36) Andy Young, 3B, Indiana State University
37) Brian Keller, RHP, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
38) Brent Rooker, OF, Mississippi State University
39) Casey Scoggins, OF, University of Tampa
40) T.J. Collett, C, North Vigo HS, Terre Haute, Indiana
Picks 38 through 40 were Real Twins as I was out of names.  The college guys were all successful seniors, mainly roster filler at this point.

***********

Overall I am reasonably happy with this. There are two advanced college pitchers with Lauer and Gallen plus a large group of college strike-throwers to add depth. There's high school upside with Baddo, Rortvedt, and Balazovic, plus two Puerto Rican high school players, a demographic that I think is often overlooked and can have bargains. There are middle infielders, a weak point in the Shadow system. There's notable power. There's speed. Most of the later picks will just be organization guys, of course, but most of them have at least one objective marker or subjective indicator saying that they could be a sleeper.

The one thing that's missing is high-upside right-handed pitching. Balazovic is really projectable but he might not sign and even if he does, he's a long way off. The college right-handers all have great track records but none of them have plus stuff. The real Twins got the upside guy with Jax in the third round and maybe I should have gone with him instead of Gallen, but it is too late to change at this point.

We'll just have to mine the July 2nd market for right-handed fastballs!