Monday, May 29, 2017

Twins Zeroing in on Kyle Wright as Top Pick

The Minnesota Twins are expected to select Vanderbilt starting pitcher Kyle Wright with the top overall pick in this June's MLB draft, according to various reports over the past few days. We had been hearing for weeks that the team wasn't all that enamored with California prep right hander Hunter Greene, and would likely look to strike a deal with a different top 10 prospect.




The Twins have the highest draft pool, thanks in large part to having the #1 overall pick, and there are differing strategies teams can take to maximize the value of their draft pool. If reports are accurate and the Twins are in fact zeroing in on Kyle Wright, it's a virtual guarantee they have a general framework for an agreement with his representatives for well below the $7.77 million slot value the #1 pick holds.

Prior to the Twins reported interest, most experts projected Wright somewhere between the #5 and #10 spots. My guess is the team and Wright's representatives have agreed on something that will fall between #5 and #6, which would be about $5.5 million. The Twins save over $2 million to spend on a later draft pick with a first round grade who falls due to signing concerns, while Wright gets the notoriety of being the top overall pick and avoids any risk of falling outside of the top 10. It truly is a win-win for Wright and the Twins.

As for us Twins fans, it remains to be seen if Wright is indeed the correct choice, at any price. Hunter Greene remains the consensus top prospect, and as a 17-year-old who can reach triple digits with his fastball, it's easy to see why some fans are dreaming of his ceiling. Greene would clearly require the slot value at #1, so he would need to be the clear top choice in my opinion. Whether the Twins scouts are right or wrong, it's clear they don't view Greene as highly as others in the industry.

Personally, I'm not a fan of Wright. Despite being an established college starter who should move quickly through the system, he has too many risks involved for such a lofty draft position. He's had a great stretch over his last handful of starts, which has likely played a big part in the Twins reported decision to select him #1.

Some have argued the Twins are looking for a quick fix, which is why they like Wright more than Greene, but I doubt that's true. The new regime is very intelligent, and it seems very unlikely they would be so present thinking when the teams future is much brighter than the present.

I would guess the goal is to minimize risk, as it's  obviously very important to get value from the top pick in the draft. The Rays have struggled over the last few seasons in large part because they selected Tim Beckham ahead of Buster Posey. Greene's a developmental project despite his high velocity, as most of his off-speed pitches are well below average at this point. That's of course not his fault, as he mostly just throws a 100 MPH fastball and dominates every start, but he'll need to develop his off-speed pitches in the minors which makes him a long-term developmental project. That means more risk, as any arm injury could derail the velocity that makes him so special.

Ultimately, I agree with the Twins strategy of passing on Greene if they draft someone else and are able to sign them for a below-slot deal. While I wouldn't take Wright in any scenario, he's a very good college pitcher who much smarter people than me think is going to be a great player. The only mistake the team can truly make would be to draft Wright and still pay him the full $7.77 million slot. At this point, though, that would be a shock.

With Kyle Wright expected to be the number one overall pick, the only intriguing thing left for Twins fans is who they'll draft next and spend their savings on. Don't be surprised if that prospect becomes a better player than Wright.