Twins Draft Report Card

Analyzing Minnesota's 2008 draft class




QUICK TAKE
The Twins hoped Aaron Hicks would get to them, and after he did he exceeded their expectations. Hunt could also turn out to be a coup for first-year scouting director Deron Johnson, while Tonkin and Hermsen give the organization two more big, young power arms.
POSITION PLAYERS

BEST PURE HITTER: Some teams liked OF Aaron Hicks (1) better on the mound due to his 97 mph fastball, but the Twins always liked him as a position player. They like his swing and bat speed, and he hit .318 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Danny Ortiz (4) has a short, sweet stroke thanks to quick hands and good strength for his size.  >>  BEST POWER HITTER: 1B Mike Gonzales (9) has power to all fields and led California's juco ranks with 18 home runs this spring. HIcks also has surprising raw power.  >>  Fastest Runner: Hicks actually has turned in better times since the Twins signed him and rates as a plus-plus runner.  >> BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: The Twins like strong, athletic SS Tyler Ladendorf (3) for his hands, arm strength and actions, and he has plenty of offensive upside as well. Hicks has center-field tools and more than enough arm for right field if he outgrows center.

PITCHERS

BEST FASTBALL: With Hicks not in the mix, RHP Carlos Gutierrez (1) gets the nod for his low-90s two-seamer with Derek Lowe sink. RHP B.J. Hermsen (6) has a low-90s four-seamer and plenty of projectability as an Iowan with a 6-foot-6, 230-pound frame.  >>  BEST SECONDARY PITCH: RHP Shooter Hunt (1s) projected to go in the first 15 picks most of the spring thanks in part to his plus curveball. He slipped due to command issues and his lack of a true changeup, but the same was said of Twins starter Scott Baker when he came out of college in 2003.

ODDS AND ENDS

BEST PRO DEBUT: Hicks earned top prospect honors in the GCL, slugging .491 and stealing 12 bases in 14 attempts. LHP Dan Osterbrock (7) led the Rookie-level Appalachian League in strikeouts with 104 in 75 innings while going 7-2, 3.00; he walked just eight.  >>  BEST ATHLETE: The Twins considered Hicks the draft's top athlete, but he's got baseball instincts and savvy to go with his tools.  >>  MOST INTRIGUING BACKGROUND: Gonzales' father Pete was a fifth-round pick of the Red Sox in 1981 and had a brief minor league career. RHP Michael Tonkin (30), whom the Twins signed away from Southern California for $230,000, is the brother-in-law of Twins OF/DH Jason Kubel.  >>  CLOSEST TO THE MAJORS: Gutierrez will build innings and work on his command as a minor league starter but should move quickly as a reliever. Hunt also could hop on the fast track if he improves command of his two plus pitches.  >>  BEST LATE-ROUND PICK: Tonkin is projectable at 6-foot-6 and has shown velocity, reaching 94 mph, and usable secondary stuff, including a changeup with armside run and sink. He needs strength and consistency.  >>  THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY: Bakersfield (Calif.) JC RHP Kyle Witten (22) has shown four pitches, including a two-plane slider, and should pitch on weekends for Cal State Fullerton next spring.