With the MLB Draft just a few hours away, there’s some increasing talk that the Twins are giving serious consideration to high school shortstop Royce Lewis with the No. 1 overall pick. John Manuel of Baseball America tweeted today that Lewis is in consideration and adds that he was told by a Twins official that signability is a factor for the Twins up top. Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweets that the Twins are down to Lewis and Louisville left-hander/first baseman Brendan McKay. Meanwhile, 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson tweeted that as of this morning, a Twins front office source told him that no decision has been made.
For those wondering whether the Twins may cut a deal with Lewis to save money and allow greater spending with their Comp Balance pick and second-round selection, FanRag’s Jon Heyman tweets that Lewis has a high asking price. (Lewis is reportedly being advised by agent Scott Boras.) Adding to the Lewis/Twins steam is La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, who tweeted that with less than three hours until the Twins are on the clock, the Lewis steam is real. McKay and flamethrowing righty Hunter Greene are both in the mix, Neal adds, and money is a significant factor in the decision. Obviously, the Twins will spend their entire allotted draft budget regardless of who they take, but the amount for which the first overall pick signs will determine how aggressive the Twins can be on pick Nos. 35 and 37 as well as with the rest of their selections.
A bit more on tonight’s draft…
- Fangraphs’ Gerald Schifman takes an excellent look at the usage of some of the top college arms in the draft, examining each pitcher’s average pitches per start, the percentage of starts in excess of 115 pitches and the number of “Pitch Smart” violations. (More details on the Pitch Smart guidelines here.) Notably, projected top picks like Vanderbilt’s Kyle Wright and Louisville’s Brendan McKay have had their pitch counts and rest between starts managed quite well for the most part. On the other end of the spectrum is UCLA righty Griffin Canning, who has throw 115+ pitches in 53 percent of his outings in the past two seasons. Missouri’s Tanner Houck has also had some troubling usage trends, including high pitch counts and a lack of rest between outings.
- As is always the case on draft day, there are a number of last-minute mock drafts from some industry experts that readers and draft followers will want to check out. Both Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com agree that the top five picks will go Brendan McKay (Twins), Hunter Greene (Reds), MacKenzie Gore (Padres), Royce Lewis (Rays) and Keston Hiura (Braves). That, somewhat surprisingly, would leave Kyle Wright out of the top five, though Callis has him going sixth to the A’s, while Mayo has him going seventh to the D-backs. BA’s John Manuel agrees with that top three, though he has high school outfielder Bubba Thompson going to the Rays and Wright going to the Braves at No. 5. ESPN’s Keith Law also published a draft-day mock, listing McKay, Greene, Gore, Lewis and Wright as his respective top five.
- The Athletics are up with the No. 6 pick in the draft tonight, and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle connects them to a number of outfielders and pitchers. High school lefty MacKenzie Gore is on Oakland’s radar, though many project him to go before the A’s are on the clock. High school outfielder Austin Beck is also an Athletics target and recently had a private workout with the A’s. Slusser notes that they’d be thrilled to see Kyle Wright slip to them with the sixth selection, similarly to the manner in which Florida lefty A.J. Puk dropped to Oakland last year after being discussed as a potential 1-1 option. Wright’s teammate, outfielder Jeren Kendall, is also intriguing to the A’s, per Slusser.