The Gopher State has produced recent first-round picks in Joe Mauer (2001)
and Glen Perkins (2004), but doesn't have that kind of talent this year.
While the University of Minnesota usually produces most of the state's
draft picks, shortstop Matt Fornasiere is the only Gopher certain to be
selected this time around. The state's high schools could get entirely
shut out, though righthander Ryan Lindgren probably will go as a draft-and-follow. (National ranking in parentheses)
Potential First-Round Picks
Potential Second-Fifth Round Picks
Others Of Note
1. Matt Fornasiere, ss, U. of Minnesota
2. Kevin Dixon, rhp/1b, Minnesota State U.-Mankato
3. Ryan Lindgren, rhp, Stillwater HS
4. Matt McMurtry, lhp, Minnesota State U.-Mankato
5. Matt Loberg, rhp, U. of Minnesota
6. Andy Hunter, 1b, U. of Minnesota
7. Nate Hanson, ss, Eden Prairie HS
8. John Schemmel, ss, Concordia U.-St. Paul
9. Chris Buss, ss, Rosemount HS
10. Jake Elder, c, U. of Minnesota
OTHERS TO WATCH
(Numbers in parentheses indicate rank in Minnesota)
Mavericks Have State's Best Arms
SSMatt Fornasiere (1) plays the game like he has been around it his whole life, and he has--his father Rob is Minnesota's assistant head coach. He has a sound approach and good instincts. His bat is his best tool, as he makes good contact and has gap power at the plate. He runs the bases well, and his hands and arm serve him well at shortstop. He may have to move to second base at the upper levels of pro ball.
The Golden Gophers' best pitcher is RHP Matt Loberg (5), who enhanced his chances to be a senior sign by putting together a string of 25 consecutive scoreless innings, including a 1-0 victory over Big 10 Conference pitcher of the year Jim Brauer of Michigan. Loberg's best attribute is the sink on his 86-88 mph fastball. He throws strikes and competes with a fringy repertoire.
But Minnesota State-Mankato should have the first two pitchers drafted in the state this year, even though scouts had a tough time seeing sophomore-eligible RHP/1B Kevin Dixon (2) because the Mavericks used him only sparingly in relief. Dixon is in the lineup full-time as a 1B/DH and often enters games without warming up. When he's fresh, he'll throw 90-94 mph and flash a plus slider and changeup. He has good size at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, and despite limited experience on the mound, he shows good command and poise. Dixon came to school as a catcher but redshirted in 2003 after coming down with back problems. There's a lot of intrigue around Dixon, who has pitched just 32 innings in two seasons. He hit .377 with a school-record 18 homers (ninth in NCAA Division II) this year, and went 1-3, 1.77 with seven saves and 23 strikeouts in as many innings. LHP Matt McMurtry (4), who began his college career at Nebraska, has life on his 87-89 mph fastball and a hard slurve that grades out as average at times.
RHP Ryan Lindgren (3) has far and away the best arm among Minnesota high schoolers. He's a projectable 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, and he already throws 88-90. He's just a one-pitch guy and raw right now, but he'll at least be a good draft-and-follow candidate. He has signed with Daytona Beach (Fla.) Community College and has no four-year college option.