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With No. 8 pick overall, Twins prepare for highest draft pick since 2017

Drafting eighth requires a different attitude and approach than in the late 20s. The Twins picked 27th in 2020 and 26th last year.

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins shortstop Royce Lewis in action against the Cleveland Guardians on May 14, 2022, at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Jeffrey Becker / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — Preparation for the 2022 amateur baseball draft has been underway since last year. But Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins will kick it up another level in anticipation of the three-day, 20-round draft, which begins on Sunday.

A collection of about 45 people — from scouts to analysts to the general manager group — will meet every day from morning to evening at Target Field as the Twins prepare for their highest selection — their first pick is eighth overall — since 2017, when they drafted Royce Lewis with the first pick in the draft.

“Being inside the top 10 is nice because you can shape your list of players you want to hone on throughout the course of the spring, so from a planning standpoint, it’s really nice,” vice president of amateur scouting Sean Johnson said. “ … You want to keep that mentality of, ‘Man, I hope this player makes it to our pick.’ And that usually is the case, but you have to obviously be ready for five or six other scenarios to unfold.”

That’s what this week’s meetings are for. Drafting eighth, Johnson said, requires a different attitude and approach than in the late 20s — the Twins picked 27th in 2020 and 26th last year — when the group is spending the night seeing how the board falls and then reacting.

Over the course of the spring, in addition to scouting players, the Twins have tried to gauge the tendencies of the teams in front of them — some teams, for example, are wary of taking high school players — and tried to piece together, through conversations at the field, with agents and media members, who the teams in front of them might be targeting.

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The key, Johnson said, at No. 1 or 5 or 10, is to keep a big group and not narrow it down too quickly.

“If we just said, ‘We’re going to scout eight different players,’ there’s a chance we might end up with a ninth guy on the list that we didn’t think would be there just for a lot of different reasons,” Johnson said. “… You want to keep your group a little bit bigger than eight but still really drill down on the players you think actually are going to show up in that range.”

And this year, that’s likely to be a position player. Prep bats — Druw Jones and Jackson Holliday, sons of former major leaguers Andruw Jones and Matt Holliday — are expected to be among the first few picks. Johnson said he would be surprised if a pitcher was taken in the top five, and there’s a chance that the first 10 picks are all position players.

The top arm in the draft, high school righty Dylan Lesko, underwent Tommy John surgery in April, and within the college pitching ranks, there’s been a lot of injuries, too, making it a difficult demographic to predict, Johnson said.

“I think the right way to look at any draft is you just play the hand you’re dealt,” Johnson said. “Would we love to take a pitcher at eight? Sure, if there was one that we really, really liked. But there just won’t be any on our board, in all likelihood, in that range, so this year it’s all position players, which we’re certainly fond of in the first round.”

Recent mock drafts from Baseball America and The Athletic’s Keith Law have had Jacob Berry, an infielder from Louisiana State University, and Cam Collier, a third baseman at Chipola College, a junior college in Florida, respectively linked to the Twins.

In the coming days, the Twins will spend time setting their board, lining up around 200 players and running through simulations as they focus in on their top pick and prepare for all potential outcomes, weighing feedback from all those in the room.

“We want people to feel like the work they’ve done has made a difference in the outcome,” Johnson said. “… The hope is that our group feels like the decisions we make are ours together and collectively.”

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Related Topics: MINNESOTA TWINSBASEBALL
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