Twins See Sleeper Potential In 21st-Round Pick





MINNEAPOLIS—Twins scout Marty Esposito was becoming restless as the 2009 draft wore on. Minnesota was stockpiling live arms, but one in particular whom Esposito had recommended remained on the board through the 10th round, then the 15th, then the 20th.

"Marty really liked this kid, had him going way higher," vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff said. "It was driving him nuts."

After taking 10 other pitchers, the Twins finally relented and drafted Texas State righthander Kane Holbrooks in the 21st round. In doing so, they may have discovered a future big leaguer.

"He was a little under the radar, but Marty was on him," Radcliff said of the college senior, who went 10-1, 3.29 for the Bobcats. "Looks like a pretty good call."

A 6-foot-3, 220-pound Fort Worth native who didn't begin pitching until his junior year in high school, Holbrooks has risen through four levels of the Twins system in just a season and a half, finishing the year with an appearance for Double-A New Britain.

The 23-year-old dominated low Class A Midwest League hitters for three months coming out of the bullpen for Beloit, racking up 71 strikeouts and just 13 walks in 54 innings.

"He's got a live fastball, and that's a tent stick that can be a foundation for a good career," Radcliff said of Holbrook's best pitch, which can occasionally touch 95 mph. "We might not have had high expectations when we drafted him, but he got our attention. He's in our plans now."

Those plans include adding another pitch to a repertoire that includes that fastball and "a slider/slurve kind of breaking ball, not a defined pitch yet," Radcliff said. Holbrooks made 10 starts in 2010, proving his durability, but his future role is uncertain.

"This is an important winter for him to dedicate himself to getting stronger," Radcliff said. "Twenty-first round or not, he should realize he's got a potential career here."

TWIN KILLINGS

• The Twins sent a strong seven-player contingent to the Arizona Fall League, including top outfield prospects Ben Revere and Joe Benson and righthander Kyle Gibson. "The way the rosters have to fit together with other teams, you never know how it'll work out," farm director Jim Rantz said. "This year, everything fell into place, and we were able to send some top guys."

• Righthander Anthony Swarzak made the first start of the Venezuelan League season for Aragua, allowing two runs on four hits over four innings and taking the loss. He made 12 starts for the Twins in 2009 but never reached the majors this season.