Time to take our amateur signing bonus series to the Land of 10,000 Lakes…
- Joe Mauer, $5.15MM (2001)
- Miguel Sano, $3.15MM (2009)
- B.J. Garbe, $2.75MM (1999)
- Adam Johnson, $2.5MM (2000)
- Ryan Mills, $2MM (1998)
It's funny looking back at it now, but the Mauer vs. Mark Prior debate was huge back before the 2001 draft. Both were legitimate first overall talents, but Prior was considered more of a sure thing and certainly closer to the big leagues. The Twins opted for the hometown kid with that first pick, and all he's done is develop into one of the two or three best players on the planet. Mauer debuted in 2004 as a 21-year-old and hit .308/.369/.570 in 122 plate appearances, though knee issues dampened his coming out party. He returned the next year fully healthy and hasn't stopped hitting since. Minnesota's franchise player is a .327/.407/.481 career hitter with four All Star appearances, three batting titles, and an MVP to credit. I'd say they got their $5.15MM worth.
The Twins faced heavy competition for Sano last year, most notably from the Pirates, but they were able to sign him to that huge bonus in December. He turned just 17 this past May, hitting .307/.379/.491 in 241 rookie ball plate appearances this season, his pro debut.
Garbe, Johnson, and Mills were all high-priced busts. Garbe, the fifth overall pick in '99, hit just .231/.314/.311 in more than five-plus seasons in the Twins' farm system, eventually getting traded to the Mariners for Pat Borders in August 2004. He's been out of baseball since 2006. Johnson was the second overall pick in '00 and managed to reach the big leagues with Minnesota for all of 26.1 innings (10.25 ERA) in 2001 and 2003. His minor league career consists of a 5.02 ERA in 747.1 innings, and he wound up in an independent league after the Twins released him in January 2005. Mills, taken sixth overall in '98, posted a 5.79 ERA in 480.1 minor league innings and never reached the big leagues. He's been out of baseball since becoming a minor league free agent after the 2004 season.