06/06/12 8:52 PM ET
Twins draft 24 pitchers, but Buxton the prize
By Jordan Garretson / MLB.com
Minnesota concluded the 2012 First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday having selected 43 players, 24 of whom were pitchers. Thirty-five of the club's 52 picks in 2011 were also pitchers.
Vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff said the club was happy with the players the team chose, but the high volume of pitchers wasn't necessarily intentional.
"We feel good about the arms we got," Radcliff said. "But you usually go with how you've got them evaluated. It's how they fall on the board, how you have them evaluated, where your conviction is."
Before the barrage of arms, Minnesota's Draft was highlighted by the selection of Appling County (Ga.) High School outfielder Byron Buxton at No. 2 overall. Though the Astros' No. 1 pick of Carlos Correa left Stanford pitcher Mark Appel available, scouting director Deron Johnson said the Twins were happy they were able to nab the top player on their board -- Buxton.
Though Buxton's best tool is his speed, Minnesota also expects him to develop good power as he progresses.
"I think his power's going to come," Johnson said. "I think he'll hit more than his share [of home runs]. I think he'll have above-average power down the road."
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team had an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The Twins' bonus pool -- totaling $12,368,200 -- was the largest in baseball this year.
Radcliff said the new rules didn't seem to have a big impact on the way Minnesota drafted.
"I don't think they impacted the selection process radically, if anything," Radcliff said. "We have operated under the previous year's recommending system, basically, anyway. We ranked toward the bottom in dollars spent in the draft the last eight or 10 years.
"Some of it's because of where we drafted -- at the end of the round -- but most of it is because we didn't operate under the recommended system for the most part. So it didn't really impact us greatly. I'm pretty sure it affected some teams more than it did us. But you can't really determine any of this until the signings, to see where that goes."
Of the 19 position players taken by the Twins, they chose nine outfielders, six catchers, and four infielders. Notables include ninth-round pick LJ Mazzilli, the son of former big league player and manager Lee Mazzilli, and Adam Walker II, a power hitter from Jacksonville.
Walker's biggest challenge will be finding a true position, Radcliff said. The Twins will at least start him off as a corner outfielder.
But the 6-4, 225-pounder, who stole 40 bases on 41 attempts in his three-year college career, thinks he can be a better defender than scouts gave him credit for.
"I feel like eventually I can be pretty good," Walker said. "I'm athletic. I think I'll have the ability to make plays. I've just been working, wherever it may be, to just try to be my best."
Twenty of the 24 pitchers taken by Minnesota were college arms, and eight were left-handers. The Twins' selections seemed to show a preference for power pitchers, including compensation picks Jose Barrios (No. 32 overall) and Luke Bard (No. 42), who each throw fastballs as hard as 96 mph.
"We're happy about that, no question," Radcliff said. "I know everybody says we're the pitch-to-contact Twins and all that, but that's really not our preference at all. It's how it played out over time with all the different pitchers we drafted, signed, and brought in.
"But we have just as much preference and desire to sign guys that throw hard as anybody else. It just hasn't played out that way. We did take a lot of guys with some arm strength, some power to their pitches."
Jordan Garretson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.