When it comes to scouting, drafting, and developing minor-league talent, most teams are envious of the Minnesota Twins.
Consistently competing on a reduced payroll and in a small market, the Twins owe a great deal of their success to their scouting department. Minnesota's young core of players—Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, among others—are all homegrown and a product of Minnesota's usually-excellent minor-league system.
This year, the Twins will look to bolster that system by adding some organizational depth.
Predicting what Minnesota will do in the Rule 4 Draft is as futile an exercise as making contact with a Steve Carlton slider; unless you get lucky, there's no way you are going to make solid contact.
The Twins have no discernable tendencies in the June First-Year Player Draft. They are just as willing to draft a prep outfielder as they are a college-groomed relief pitcher. Minnesota will draft the player they feel will help the organization the most.
This year, the Twins have been awarded the 21st overall selection in the draft. Here are five players that could wind up in Minnesota's minor-league system.
Bryce Brentz, OF, Middle Tennessee State
There is certainly an abundance of outfielders in Minnesota's organization, but if Brentz is still on the board, the Twins might not be able to pass him up.
Last year, Minnesota took a gamble on Kyle Gibson, a Top-10 talent who fell in the draft due to a stress fracture in his throwing arm. Like Gibson, Brentz was widely thought to be an elite talent in the 2010 draft, but a stress fracture in his right ankle has made him fall into the 15-25 area in most mock drafts.
Brentz's main weapon is his bat, which most scouts believe can develop power and an ability to hit for average. This 21-year-old slugger isn't the quickest on his feet, but possesses a cannon for an arm (he can throw a 93 mph fastball) and projects as a defensively-competent right fielder.
Ideal scenario: Brentz is capable of hitting 20-plus home runs and batting at least .280 from the middle of a team's lineup while providing slightly above-average defense from a corner outfield position.
Alex Wimmers, RHP, Ohio State
Wimmers is one of the most MLB-ready college arms available in this draft class. His name shouldn't stay on the board for long, which isn't so much a result of his ceiling as it is his being a safe pick.
His fastball sits right around 91 mph, and he regularily hits the strikezone. The Twins are constantly teaching and preaching strike-throwing, and Wimmers fits in with Minnesota's MO nicely.
Although his fastball is an average pitch at best, Wimmers possesses a plus changeup and a plus curveball, both of which he can get across the strikezone. A junior this year for Ohio State, Wimmers has experience pitching in high-pressure situations, and should have no problem adjusting to professional baseball.
Ideal scenario: Wimmers spends a year or two perfecting his craft in the minor leagues before joining a major league rotation, where he will fill the No. Three or No. Four position.
Christian Colon, SS, Cal State Fullerton
As the captain of Team USA last summer, Colon's stock rose dramatically as he showcased his leadership skills, knowledge of the game, and defensive abilities on a worldwide stage.
Despite having below-average quickness and speed, Colon's defensive range is top notch, and he should have the arm strength required to stay at the shortstop position in most organizations.
Colon doesn't have the powerful bat some in this draft boast, but he is a solid contact hitter with the ability to maintain a solid batting average at a major league level. (According to some, Colon is well-adjusted to the wood bats, and shouldn't require much transition time once he signs a professional contract.)
Ideal scenario: Colon could compare to the 2007/2008 version of Minnesota's JJ Hardy, minus most of the power. Outrageously slow on the basepaths, but boasting great defense from short. Colon should be an average major-leaguer.
Delino DeShields, Jr., CF/2B, Woodward Academy (Georgia)
Because of his father, DeShields has garnered plenty of attention throughout his young high school career. His main tool is his outstanding speed: a consensus 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. DeShields could be a college running back, which has many scouts doubting his desire to play professional baseball.
DeShields' signability concerns will lead to him being drafted much lower than his talent level would usually be. If a team can manage to entice the 17-year-old into a professional contract, they would get a guy who can cover plenty of ground in center field. Because of his father's major league position, some teams may wish to try DeShields at second base, where he could put his soft hands to work.
With a very short swing, DeShields has the ability to hit for average at the major league level and some power should develop as he gets older.
Ideal scenario: DeShields could either be a speedy center fielder or a second baseman with great range. Wherever he plays, it will likely be a defense-first position that will greatly benefit from his prowess with the bat.
Kaleb Cowert, 3B/RHP, Cook County HS (Georgia)
Cowert is perhaps the most interesting figure in the 2010 Rule 4 Draft. As a switch-hitting infielder, Cowert has plus power and an outstandingly strong arm that projects well at third base. According to some scouts, Cowert's mechanics at the plate will need some fine-tuning, though he would be capable of being a major league regular.
From the mound, however, Cowert's fastball is among the best of this year's prep talent. Reaching 95 or 96 on some radar guns, Cowert's fastball has plenty of movement and could almost be considered major-league ready.
His other two pitches, though, are still a work-in-progress. Though his control is top notch, Cowert's slider and changeup are still very inconsistent and will take several years with a minor-league coaching staff to perfect. At 17 years of age, Cowert has a very high ceiling as a future closer, or even a starting pitcher.
Cowert has said that he prefers to play every day, though, and would like to be drafted as an infielder. If you ask three scouts which position Cowert will be drafted at, you'll probably get four or five different opinions. Cowert's future position will be one of the most interesting storylines come draft day.
Ideal scenario: As a pitcher, Cowert could wind up as a closer with an overpowering fastball and a couple of supplemental pitches to keep opposing hitters on their toes as he closes out the 9th. As a switch-hitting third baseman, Cowert could rack up 15-20 home runs per season while maintaining solid defense at the Hot Corner.