December 7, 2007

Rule V Draft Thoughts

Good morning, I'm breaking away from the you know who talk today (finally), and instead I'm going to focus on the Rule V Draft which took place yesterday morning as the Winter Meetings came to an end.

The Twins didn't select any players in the draft, which was surprising since they have a few spots on the 40-man roster which could be filled, but it leaves speculation that they could be saving it in anticipation of a trade revolving around you know who. But although they didn't select any players, that doesn't mean they weren't "involved" in the draft. In fact, the first pick in the draft came from the Twins system.

The Tampa Bay Rays selected reliever Tim Lahey with the first pick, but later sold his rights to the Cubs for what's reported as $150,000. Other Twins selected in the Major League phase of the draft were outfielder Garrett Guzman (Nationals) and newly acquired pitcher R.A. Dickey (Mariners).

Obviously, the loss of Guzman was anticipated, but with the number of outfielders already on the Nationals roster, I think it's unrealistic to see him stay with the club all season on their 25-man roster (unless they move a couple in a trade). Seth had a great Q&A with him back in September.

Lahey isn't a great reliever, but he is fairly consistent and his loss was also anticipated by many. Seth also did a Q&A with him back in September as well.

R.A. Dickey is a 33 year-old starter who doesn't have the best numbers in the minors, and was signed just to fill a spot in the rotation in Rochester. I don't think the Twins mind loosing him as much, but it does mean that they'll have to find a replacement for him.

In the AAA portion of the draft, the Rays selected New Britain outfielder Rashad Eldridge with the first pick. Eldridge is a 26-year-old center fielder who's solid bat and defensive skills could give him a spot on the Rays bench at sometime in the foreseeable future. The Twins probably are upset at the thought that both Guzman and Eldridge were taken away on the same day as one another. It's hard because the Twins lack outfield depth at the AA and AAA levels.

The Pirates later selected pitcher Joshua Hill later in the AAA portion of the draft. Hill has been in the organization 6 seasons and was in AA for most of last season after being promoted from High-A. He doesn't have a lot of success in the minors, but his numbers are respectable with a 4.00 ERA, 7.9 K/BB ratio and a 28-25 record. I didn't see him having much of a future with the Twins, but he could've been a serviceable reliever at some point, if he ever made it to the Majors.

Pitcher J.P. Martinez was taken by the Baltimore Orioles in the AA portion of the draft. He has been a reliever in the Twins system since the team drafted him in the 9th round of the 2004 draft. He put up good numbers as a reliever with a 16-14 record, a 3.01 ERA and a 9.44 K/BB ratio. He shouldn't have been added to the 40-man, so as much as I would've liked to see him stick around, I'm not sad about the thought of having a roster spot on a 25-year-old reliever in AA.

Overall, I'm sad to see the Twins lose some fairly consistent players through the draft, especially with Guzman and Eldridge gone. But it could've been worse. Pitcher Yohan Pino and infielder David Winfree were both available, and nobody took chances on either of those two. I have to think the Twins are definitely relieved neither of those two players were chosen.

The Twins 40-man roster currently sits at 38 players and it could be 37 soon if the Twins decide to non-tender Craig Monroe, who's roster spot may be in jeopardy as the Twins already have 9 outfielders on the roster.

If the season started today, I'd personally rather see us give a spot on the 25-man roster to a guy like Darnell McDonald. Jason Pridie and Denard Span are others I wouldn't mind seeing make the club out of spring training. Although I'll add that I do think the team would benefit most if Span started the season out in AAA or spent most the season there, unless he shows a lot of improvement in Spring Training. I just think he has a few things he should continue to work on before moving up to the big stage.

McDonald, a 29-year-old outfielder was acquired last season from the Washinton Nationals in June. He batted .297/.362/.424 in 491 at bats in 134 games. He hit 29 doubles, 6 triples, 7 home runs and also stole 33 bases. He has a solid glove in the field, and I think he's a pretty exciting player to watch. Unfortunately, he didn't "show up" in his limited time with the Twins last season (1-10 with 3 K's), and although it's an extremely small sample size, the team may be more willing to give a spot on the 25-man roster to a younger player.

Pridie and Span are younger, and may offer more upside, but I think McDonald would replace be a good replacement for Lew Ford on the bench. If Spring Training started today with the Twins not having a clear starter in center field, I see the Twins giving Span, Pridie, McDonald and Jason Tyner all even chances to prove themselves in Spring Training. Although I think Tyner would probably have the immediate "upper hand" since he's been a fairly good outfielder for us the last couple years.

Something that should make some of you happy is that it's only 72 more days until the pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Fort Myers. And it's 115 days until the Twins opening day (and the "official first game" is in Tokyo between the Red Sox and Athletics and it's 109 days from now).