The Minnesota Twins' process of rebuilding their farm system will take another giant step next week when Major League Baseball conducts it's annual June amateur entry draft.
A year ago, the Twins hit on many of their picks as Byron Buxton, Adam Brett Walker and D.J. Baxendale have had tremendous seasons in the lower levels of the Twins' system.
In order for the team to turn around its fortunes at the major league level, it will need to have a similar draft to provide hope and depth at several positions of need.
To do that, the Twins will explore several options at the fourth overall pick and hopefully land a similar impact player like they did by drafting Buxton second overall a season ago.
The Twins are in a tough situation with the fourth overall pick because there are three elite players in this year's draft. After Jonathan Gray, Mark Appel and Kris Bryant, there are plenty of names the team can look at.
Matt Garrioch of Minor League Ball says that the Twins will go for the college arm in Braden Shipley over the high school fireballer in Kohl Stewart:
The obvious choice here is Stewart. Big potential, elite arm, but when you just demoted your recently acquired opening day starter and people could start losing their jobs due to 90+ loss seasons in consecutive years, you opt for the quicker impact. Shipley is no slouch with his upper 90's velocity.
This makes sense, as the Twins have routinely selected college arms in the draft with the intention of getting them toward the bottom of the team's rotation as quickly as possible.
Shipley has the talent to make this selection a quality one, but the Twins may want to take a harder look at the player with the higher ceiling.
Baseball America's Jim Callis seems to agree with my way of thinking that the Twins need a true ace before they can go anywhere:
Unless one of the big three falls, pitching-needy Minnesota appears focused most on Texas high school righthander Kohl Stewart. The Twins could save money with Washington prep catcher Reese McGuire, and Indiana high school lefty Trey Ball and [North Carolina third baseman Colin] Moran also are in the mix.
Yes, the Twins have had success drafting collegiate pitchers and putting them into their rotation as quickly as possible. That was at a time when they had two aces in Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano.
The Twins need someone to lead their staff, and taking a high-upside player with risk is better than going the safe route.
ESPN.com's Keith Law suggests that the Twins go with the high-upside high schooler, as he also has them taking Stewart at fourth overall:
They've been very heavy on Stewart over his last few outings, and he's an ideal fit for a system that needs high-upside pitchers, with Stewart offering the athleticism the Twins have always favored in position players.
There is a persistent rumor that the Twins will cut a deal with prep catcher Reese McGuire for less than MLB's recommended bonus, which would allow them to apply those savings later in the draft. But Stewart is clearly the better choice and appears to be higher on their internal board, below only the three players who I project to go in the top three.
Law talks about the Twins going the cheap route, and that's why taking Stewart would make more sense than a college arm.
Stewart has been recruited by Texas A&M to play quarterback, and he may decide football over baseball. That could be considered a bad thing for the Twins, but they would automatically get a top-10 pick in the following year's draft, which is considered to be stronger.
Honestly, if the Twins wanted to go safe, maybe Stewart is the safest name on the board.
MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo goes with the college pitcher approach, but opts with Sean Manea instead of Shipley with the fourth overall pick:
"This big lefty has scuffled a bit of late, but scouts on hand last weekend believe he's starting to bounce back. If that continues, he could make a lot of sense here."
Manea's stock rose dramatically after a successful summer in the Cape Cod League, so it could be a case of a fast riser capturing the Twins' hearts. Even if that's the case, he has the stuff to become a solid starter for a rotation that badly needs them.
Bleacher Report's Mike Rosenbaum and Adam Wells both agree that Stewart is the pick for the Twins.
Rosenbaum sums up what general manager Terry Ryan could be thinking heading into next week's draft:
After adding a host of power arms since last June, including Alex Meyer, Trevor May and J.O. Berrios, Stewart would give the Twins another high-ceiling pitching prospect and fits the mold of their quickly improving farm system. Plus, at this point, the 6’3”, 190-pound right-hander is arguably the best player available.
The selection of Stewart by both of B/R's writers makes that four of the six experts expecting the Twins to select the young hurler out of Texas.
Like I mentioned on the Law slide, this is the best way to jump-start a struggling rotation or acquire a second top-10 pick in next year's draft.