06/07/2004 7:30 PM ET
Twins' selections heavy on pitching
Hurlers and shortstops were Minnesota's top priority
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
|Trevor Plouffe batted .509 with six homers and 20 RBIs in high school this spring. (courtesy Crespi HS)
MINNEAPOLIS -- After Day 1 of the First-Year Player Draft Monday, the Twins' focus was pretty clear.
Shortstops and pitching.
Through the first 22 picks, they selected three shortstops and 16 pitchers.
"We feel like we reached several of the objectives we had for today," Twins scouting director Mike Radcliff said.
Minnesota had three first-round picks and two compensation or sandwich picks among the top 39. Four of those picks came from the Mariners and Cubs, who signed former Twins Eddie Guardado and LaTroy Hawkins as free agents.
After shortstop Trevor Plouffe of Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, Calif., was taken at No. 20, the Twins used the next six picks on pitching. Left-hander Glen Perkins from the University of Minnesota was taken at No. 22, before right-hander Kyle Waldrop went at No. 25 to finish the first-round selections.
Of the sandwich picks, right-handed pitcher Matthew Fox from the University of Central Florida was at No. 35 overall. The 39th pick was used on another pitcher -- right-hander Jay Rainville of Bishop Hendricken School in Rhode Island.
"All the pitchers we took fit in the criteria as future starting pitchers, guys that give us innings, have a mix (of pitches), have durability and big strong body guys," Radcliff said. "We feel very fortunate to get the guys in that compensation area."
Fox, 21, was 14-2 this season with a 1.85 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 17 starts. The 6-foot-2, 192-pounder was named Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year, Collegiate Baseball News First Team All-America and second team All-America by USA Today/Baseball Weekly.
Getting Rainville at No. 39 may have been the coup of the day for the Twins, because many projected him as a first-round pick. Reports say he can already throw 95 mph, and get his pitches over the plate.
"To be real honest, we feel real fortunate to get him where we did," Radcliff said.
Rainville did not allow an earned run in his senior year while going 8-0 with six shutouts and two no-hitters. In 2003, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound pitcher led his team to the Rhode Island State Championship and was named the state's Gatorade Player of the Year.
With their second-round pick, the Twins again went the high school route by taking right-hander Anthony Swarzak from Nova High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Swarzak, who has a letter signed to play college ball with LSU, was 14-2 with a 0.46 ERA in 86 innings with 147 strikeouts this season. Reports say his fastball has reach 93 mph on the radar gun.
"We realized this guy was improving and maturing and developing at a rate that would put him in the upper mix," Radcliff said. "We got very good reports on this guy."
The Twins spent much of their resources scouting the higher picks and many could have accelerated progress to the Major Leagues. Many draftees often take a minimum of 4-5 years to reach the Majors from high school, if they get that far at all.
"None of these guys are going to be held back," Radcliff said. "All of these guys have a chance to progress at a decent rate and not be held to one level a year."
Right-hander Eduardo Morlan of Coral Park High School was taken in the third round before the first of two outfielders, Mark Robinson of El Monte, Calif.'s Mountain View High School went with the fourth-round pick. Reno, Nev. lefty pitcher Jeffrey Schoenbachler went in the fifth round.
High schooler Patrick Bryant was selected in the sixth round out of Pensacola, Fla., before college arms were taken with the next three picks. Seventh-round pick, lefty John Williams, went 8-4 with a 3.05 ERA for Middle Tennessee State.
Jay Sawatski, the eighth-round pick from the University of Arkansas, was 10-3 with a 3.51 ERA in 28 games including seven starts. Ninth-round pick J.P. Martinez led the University of New Orleans with seven wins and pitched 100 1/3 innings in 19 games.
Because they have so many picks at the top of the draft, the Twins are not expected to sign a large volume of their picks in 2004. Four players were already identified as "draft and follow" players -- and will likely begin or continue their college careers.
One of those picks, 12th-round selection Shane Boyd, is a right-handed pitcher from the University of Kentucky. Boyd is also expected to be the Wildcats' starting quarterback this season as a senior.
Although the other 29 clubs will all say they liked their first day of selections, it appeared the Twins emerged from their "war room" with an extra sense of optimism.
"We were in the unique opportunity to get more guys than the other (clubs) with the extra picks," Radcliff said. "We got a shortstop and we got starting pitching. We feel real good today."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.