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Twins Draft Report Card

Best Pro Debut: LHP Ricky Barrett (7) doesn’t have a true out pitch but led the Rookie-level Appalachian League with a 1.27 ERA, going 7-1 with 79 strikeouts in 64 innings. RHPs Jesse Crain (2) and Pat Neshek (6) both had sub-1.00 ERAs and averaged more than a whiff per inning.

Best Athlete: OF Denard Span (1) was an all-Florida wide receiver in high school and could have played college football. His arm is his lone weakness. Crain starred as a closer and as a shortstop at the University of Houston.

Best Pure Hitter: Span doesn’t have a classic stroke like Joe Mauer’s, but his style and approach play to his strengths and should make him a catalyst atop a batting order. He can get on base by beating out routine grounders to shortstop.

Best Raw Power: The Twins didn’t look for sluggers this year. OFs Doug Deeds (9) and Javier Lopez (18) are average to slightly above. Deeds, who hit .325-7-32 in the Appy League, is the better all-around hitter.

Fastest Runner: Span can cover 60 yards in 6.4 seconds and go from the left side of home to first in 4.0 seconds. OFs Ronald Perodin (27) and Tarrence Patterson (35) are also plus-plus runners.

Best Defensive Player: Span covers center field like a young Kenny Lofton.

Best Fastball: Crain, Neshek and RHP Adam Harben (15) all can pump their fastballs to 95 mph. Crain sustains that velocity more easily than the other two. Neshek’s deceptive delivery makes him even more difficult to hit.

Best Breaking Ball: Crain’s slider is better than Neshek’s.

Most Intriguing Background: Unsigned C Jeff Clement (12) broke Drew Henson’s national high school record with 75 career homers. Unsigned SS Toby Gardenhire’s (38) father Ron is Minnesota’s manager. RHP T.J. Prunty (21) went to the University of Miami as a quarterback. For the second straight year, the Twins took their home state’s best QB prospect, following Mauer with RHP John Stocco (45). Minnesota still controls Stocco’s rights because he’s at a school (Wisconsin) without a baseball program. LHP Alex Merricks’ (4) brothers Charles and Matt are minor league lefties in the Rockies and Braves organizations.

Closest To The Majors: Crain and Neshek, because they’re relievers who already have two plus pitches. Crain added a changeup this summer, and the Twins may be tempted to see how he does as a starter.

Best Late-Round Pick: Harben, RHP K.C. Jones (16) and Prunty are all tall youngsters with projectable arms. Harben played with Gardenhire at Westark (Ark.) CC.

The One Who Got Away: Minnesota was disappointed not to sign RHP Mark Sauls (3, at Florida State), OF Clete Thomas (5, Auburn), Clement (Southern California) and RHP Garrett Mock (14, Houston). Thomas, a five-tool player, has the highest ceiling.

Assessment: The Twins usually have trouble signing top players–they signed only 10 of their first 20 picks–but they never stop trying. Span adds to their enviable outfield depth, and they collected several promising pitchers.

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