Twins use Draft to stock farm system
Burdi, Cederoth and Reed join Buxton, Sano in Minnesota's Minors organization
With the 2014 First-Year Player Draft in the books, it's time to look at how well the Twins have developed their young players from the previous three Drafts.
Any discussion of Minnesota's Minor League system starts with Byron Buxton, MLB.com's No. 1 prospect.
Buxton, likely the Twins' future center fielder, was selected first overall in 2012, and he progressed to Class A Advanced Fort Myers in his first season. But this year, the 20-year-old has stalled out in Florida thanks to an injured left wrist.
After spraining the pisotriquetral joint in his wrist while diving for a fly ball in a Minor League game during Spring Training, Buxton returned for five games before aggravating the injury while sliding into a base.
Twins scouting director Deron Johnson believes the doctors will play it safe.
"I think they're gonna take it slow," he said.
Meanwhile, the Twins' other prized prospect is recovering from a more serious injury. Miguel Sano -- MLB.com's No. 3 prospect -- hurt his elbow in Spring Training and required Tommy John surgery.
While most feared Sano to be lost for the season, Johnson thinks Sano could possibly return and play as a designated hitter by August. While this should allow him to knock the rust off his prodigious batting skills -- he smacked 35 home runs between Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain in 2013 -- Sano won't be able to improve his suspect fielding.
The next pitcher to be called up will likely be MLB.com's No. 24 prospect Alex Meyer. The 6-foot-9 right-hander is 4-2 with a 3.30 ERA in 12 starts at Triple-A Rochester.
Meyer was selected by Washington in 2011, but he came over as part of the Denard Span deal in 2012.
Kohl Stewart is likely at least a couple years away from the bigs, but he is MLB.com's No. 32 prospect. Stewart was the Twins' first-round pick last year (No. 4 overall), and has logged a 2.76 ERA in 10 starts at Class A Cedar Rapids this season.
Johnson plans on watching Stewart pitch in Cedar Rapids this week.
"Player development is very happy with his progress," Johnson said.
When Stewart signed with the club last June, fellow 2013 draftee Stephen Gonsalves was right there with him. Gonsalves, a left-handed pitcher initially scouted as a potential first-rounder, ran into some off-the-field trouble in high school that helped him drop to Minnesota in the fourth round.
"He's been throwing well down in the Gulf Coast League," Johnson said. "If he continues to do well, he'll have a shot at going up to Cedar Rapids as well. But I think he's penciled in to go to [Rookie affiliate] Elizabethton right now."
While Gonsalves has a little ways to go to be included as an elite Twins pitching prospect, Jose Berrios is already there.
The highest pitcher ever taken out of Puerto Rico when Minnesota selected him No. 32 overall in 2012, Berrios is MLB.com's No. 76 prospect. Currently in Fort Myers, he's 5-2 with a 2.24 ERA in 11 starts. He's also managed an impressive 74 strikeouts to just 17 walks.
But a stable of impressive arms -- including No. 6 Twins prospect Lewis Thorpe, No. 9 Felix Jorge and No. 12 Trevor May -- was not enough to keep the Minnesota front office from gobbling up pitchers early in this year's Draft.
Relievers were especially valued.
"We took a bunch of hard throwers," Johnson said. "We're probably more bullpen-oriented this year. We're hoping we might hit on a few starters out of that. If there's a guy that we think there's an outside chance he might be able to start, you always give him a try, but for the most part, we think most of the guys are bullpen guys."
While 2014 picks such as Nick Burdi, Michael Cederoth and Jake Reed won't be putting on the Twins' pinstripes any time soon, fans can take solace in a Minor League system that -- while not completely healthy -- is one of the best in baseball.
Alex Smith is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.