With the 2012 Major League Baseball first-year player draft less than one month away, it seems timely to look back on the Minnesota Twins' draft history.
On June 4, the Twins will make the second, 32nd and 42nd selections in the first round of one of the more important drafts in recent team history.
Obviously Twins fans hope all of these picks will not only make it to the major leagues, but become stars in the process.
However, as history shows us, the MLB draft is more of a crap shoot than the drafts of any other league.
Looking back on the past 25 years (1987-2011), the Twins' success in the draft often comes in the first round, but the club has found some gems in the later rounds as well.
Let us now take a look back and name the top 10 draft selections the Twins made during that time.
After a lot more research than I wanted, or expected, to do, the list was narrowed down to a top 10.
Missing out on the top 10 were a lot of names that Twins fans and baseball fans in general would recognize.
Guys like Glen Perkins (2004) and Danny Valencia (2006) just do not have the longevity to make the list at this time.
There were also relief pitchers like Jesse Crain (2002) and LaTroy Hawkins (1991), who had successful Twins careers but were never exactly dominant.
Of course, there are also players like Denny Neagle (1989) and Matt Garza (2005), whose careers took off after leaving the Twins organization.
Marty Cordova (1989) did win a Rookie of the Year award but never did quite pan out while with the Twins.
Injuries are the main reason Jason Kubel (2000) is not with the Twins anymore and also why he did not make the top 10.
Jacque Jones (1996) and Doug Mientkiewicz (1995) were integral pieces of the Twins teams that brought success back to Minnesota in the 2000's, but not productive enough in the long run to crack the top ten.
The final player, and toughest omission, had to be Denny Hocking (1989). While it is hard to put a value on a player like Hocking who was so versatile, his statistical value excludes him from the top 10.
Drafted: First round (20th overall) of the 2002 draft
Debut: April 6, 2008
Honors: Sixth in AL Rookie of the Year Voting in 2008
Denard Span is the youngest player in the top 10, which means he has done the least to deserve being on the list but also has the potential to climb even higher as time goes on.
Span comes in at No. 10 for not only his abilities at the plate, but also for the way he patrols center field.
Injury issues aside, Denard has been one of the most important players on successful Twins teams in the past and hopefully again in the future.
Drafted: Third round (71st overall) of 1994 draft
Debut: September 9, 1998
Honors: All-Star Selection in 2002
A.J Pierzynski may be booed when he returns to Minnesota, but this is a guy who should be cheered for his contribution to the Twins.
Not only did he turn into an All-Star catcher by 2002, he also was traded November 14, 2003 to the San Fransisco Giants for Joe Nathan, Boof Bonser and Francisco Liriano.
Pierzynski may seem like a jerk, but his value brought the Twins players who were essential to the team's success later in the decade and that makes him a great guy in my book and No. 9 on the list.
Drafted: 26th round (715th overall) of 1994 draft
Debut: September 9, 1998
Honors: Finished 25th in AL MVP voting (2001)
Corey Koskie's career may ultimately be defined by the injuries that ended it, but Koskie will be remembered by Twins fans as a key player at a third-base position that had been in flux since Gary Gaetti.
For seven seasons, Koskie made the Metrodome his home and played the hot corner well enough for No. 47 to come in at No. 8 of the top 10.
Drafted: First round (ninth overall) of 1997 draft
Debut: September 23, 2001
Honors: 22nd in MVP voting (2009); All-Star Participant in 2011
When the Twins drafted a high school shortstop with their first pick of the 1997 draft, they were probably hoping he would turn into an All-Star one day.
I doubt either the Twins or Michael Cuddyer had any idea of the path it would take for those hopes to become a reality.
Cuddyer played pretty much everywhere but shortstop in his 11 years with the Twins and turned himself into a fan favorite along the way.
Cuddy may be playing in Colorado now, but his memorable time in Minnesota makes him the No. 7 player on the list.
Drafted: 21st round (553rd overall) of 1990 draft
Debut: June 13, 1993
Honors: 15th in AL MVP voting (2002); All-Star Participant in 2002 & 2003
Eddie Guardado earned himself the nickname "Everyday Eddie" as a middle-relief pitcher for the Twins in the 1990s, but his work as the closer in the 2000s is what makes him No. 6 on the list.
It is now hard to believe Guardado started his career as a starting pitcher, but even harder to believe Eddie would end his career among the likes of Jeff Reardon and Rick Aguilera as a legendary closer in Twins history.
While closing games was an adventure on most days, Eddie did set the franchise record for saves in a season in 2002 with 45 and is the Twins' all-time leader in pitching appearances with 648.
Drafted: Eighth round (207th overall) of the 1991 draft
Debut: April 29, 1995
Honors: ninth in AL Rookie of the Year voting (1995); third in AL Cy Young Award voting and 25th in MVP voting (1997); All-Star Selection in 1998
Brad Radke comes in at No. 5 on the list for his longevity and consistency during his career with the Twins.
Many will claim his consistency was mostly in giving up first-inning home runs, but Radke's 12-year career with the Twins is easily the best by any starting pitcher the team drafted in the last 25 years.
Drafted: Third round (89th overall) of the 1999 draft
Debut: June 10, 2003
Honors: AL MVP in 2006; 20th in MVP voting in 2007 and second in MVP voting in 2008; four-time All-Star Selection (2007-2010); Silver Slugger Award winner in 2006 and 2008
Justin Morneau may not be the player he once was ever again, but from 2006-2008 he was as good of a first baseman as it gets.
The Canadian slugger comes in at No. 4 mostly for his work at the plate, but let's not forget that he was just as reliable in the field, even though he doesn't have a Gold Glove award to prove it.
If Morneau can stay healthy, he surely will move up on many more important lists than this one by the time his career is over.
Drafted: First round (20th overall) of the 1993 draft
Debut: August 22, 1997
Honors: All-Star Selection in 2002 and 2007; finished 21st in MVP voting in 2001, 6th in 2002, 21st in 2004 & 15th in 2007; Gold Glove Award Winner 2001-2007
Torii Hunter comes in at No. 3 on the list for reasons more than just his play on the field.
Hunter became the face of the Twins organization because of his highlight-reel catches and heroics at the plate, but his attitude and personality made him legendary for kids like me growing up during his time with the Twins.
Torii filled the void left by the retirement of Kirby Puckett and gave a new era of Twins fan a reason to not only go to the ballpark, but get outside and try to emulate his play.
While Hunter's career was not as successful as Puckett's, he still left a lasting impression on the franchise that is missed to this day.
Drafted: First round (1st overall) of the 2001 draft
Debut: April 5, 2004
Honors: AL MVP in 2009; finished sixth in MVP voting in 2006, fourth in 2008 and eighth in 2010; All-Star Selection in 2006, 2008-2010; Gold Glove Award winner 2008-2010; Silver Slugger Award winner 2006, 2008-2010
Many questioned the decision to select Joe Mauer first overall in 2001 over pitcher Mark Prior, but I would say the Twins made the right call.
Until injuries in recent years sidetracked Joe, he was without a doubt the best catcher in baseball and on track to one day be named to the Hall of Fame.
While Joe could have easily topped this list, he comes in at No. 2 because his career is not over, and my superstitions make me believe this will somehow motivate him into becoming the player he once was yet again.
Drafted: First round (25th overall) of the 1989 draft
Debut: April 9, 1991
Honors: 1991 AL Rookie of the Year; finished 20th in MVP voting in 1994, 17th in 1995 and 16th in 1996; 1997 Gold Glove Award winner; All-Star Selection in 1992, 1994, 1996 & 1997; Silver Slugger Award winner in 1995 & 1997
Chuck Knoblauch comes in at No. 1 on the list of top 10 Twins draft picks in the last 25 years because he accomplished one thing that no one else on the list has done: He won a World Series title as a Twin.
The 1991 World Series Championship on top of his stellar playing career with the Twins makes him the right choice to be No. 1.
Also, don't forget that he also was traded to the New York Yankees in 1998 for Cristian Guzman and Eric Milton.
Maybe the lasting image of Knoblauch is him launching throws from second base into the stands at Yankee Stadium, but for Twins fans it should be of a champion. That is why he tops this list.