Pipeline Podcast: Twins scouting director talks No. 1 pick

May 27th, 2017

This week on the MLBPipeline Podcast, host Tim McMaster and resident prospect gurus Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo are joined by Twins scouting director Sean Johnson to discuss Minnesota's process when it comes to deciding who to take with the No. 1 pick. The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's episode of the Pipeline Podcast.

McMaster: We're excited to be joined by Twins scouting director Sean Johnson. Of course, the Twins have the No. 1 pick in next month's Draft, so plenty of excitement swirling around Sean and the Twins. Sean, you were promoted to scouting director back in December. My first question for you is: How long did it take before you started to think about pick No. 1-1 after you were promoted?

Johnson: I'd say somewhere under five seconds, probably, if I can recall it right.

:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::

McMaster: And then obviously plenty of work goes into it from there. Now we're into crunch time, here, the final month. Is this when everything comes together and you pull all the pieces of information you've been drawing over all this time and kind of put it into one place to try to make the right decision here in June?

Johnson: We're working it down to the end. We'll have guys covering regionals and super regionals, watching the college guys. We've had a few workouts for some high school guys that have ended their season. Our guys are working hard and putting in some long days trying to get the information gathered and get it in the right order. We'll meet here in a couple of weeks and try to put the board together and see how it goes.

Mayo: Hey Sean, it's Jonathan Mayo. I wanted to start off with a general [question], trying to figure out a philosophy sense. It's hard enough sitting in the scouting director's chair for the first time, but you've got a lot of new pieces there. With the new general manager structure, changes for the first time in a long string of continuity in Minnesota. How challenging has it been just to make sure that everybody's on the same page, and moving forward in the same direction, when there are probably some differing philosophies at play here?

Johnson: It's been a lot of fun, really. We've been able to take what we've done here over time with the Twins, and then kind of mesh it in with Derek [Falvey's] background in Cleveland and Thad [Levine's] background in Texas, which are two different worlds. We've tried to just take good ideas from each background and try to put a plan together going forward to bring it all together. Just to make everything a little better and more synergistic.

But it's been a lot of fun. It hasn't been, really, difficult, we've had really good conversations. Those guys are great communicators, and they've been open-minded. So have myself and our staff. We're just trying to see how we can put things together in a better way.

Callis: Hey Sean, Jim Callis here. I think I ask this question of the team that picks No. 1 whenever I do a story or I'm talking to that team in that particular year. But just explain to fans how, it's obviously different having the No. 1 overall pick, but it's not radically different from what you guys would normally do, is it? I assume, obviously, you're getting extra looks at the guys who are gonna go at the very top of the Draft, because of the importance of the pick, but you guys are still scouting the whole country. Outside of maybe some guys who are gonna go in the middle of the first round, who aren't gonna make it back to your next two picks, you guys are still scouting everybody kind of like you normally would, and then you have two more picks that come up pretty quick at 35 and 37.

Johnson: I think you said it right. We've picked high the last few years -- unfortunately -- but the upside is we're not gonna get picked off. That's the way we've looked at it, as a positive. You can schedule your scouts to see the certain games that are meaningful, and you know who's in play, and you can create your own pool of players. We have extra picks, so we haven't been able to rule out a ton of guys who might fit in between, but certainly we've tried to find guys we're comfortable with at that next pick, and not spend as much time on them. It is a little bit of a challenge, but scheduling-wise it's easy, because we're going after the guys that we really want to take.

Mayo: Speaking of that, Sean, there've been various reports about the number of players still in that bucket that you're looking at for 1-1. Without getting into specifics, because I know that's when we start getting on dangerous scouting thin ice, I was curious what the process is from this point now up until June 12 when you have to make that selection in terms of whittling down that list at all, and what goes into figuring out who the right guy is for that pick?

Johnson: Again, we're gonna work it down to the end. We'll spend a week or so meeting and trying to figure out our final list of names. And then there are other things that come into play as far as signability, sticker price, all those things. But at the end of the day, we're gonna try to take the best player on the board, using every opinion in our room. We have quite a few this year, more than in the past, which has been great. Using different resources, we've got people doing different things on the metrics side, analytics side, and being able to use that information to kind of come up with an answer has been a lot of fun for me, personally.

I've learned a lot, I think our scouts have learned a lot. We've been trying to grow as a staff, and in the meanwhile, we're going to spend $14 million. So we've kind of had two different things going on timeline-wise -- big-picture, small-picture stuff. But we're excited for it. We're going to get a good player, we know that. So we're looking forward to it.

Callis: Can you share, Sean, I know we're not going to get the list out of you -- unless you want to share it, we'd be happy to hear it -- how many players you guys are looking at at this point? Obviously you still have about three weeks before you have to make a decision on June 12.

Johnson: I'd say it's under seven. But not much under that, I wouldn't think. I think it's pretty clear -- we read all the mock drafts, and different opinions on the players -- I don't think there's a consensus 1-1. You wish that Ken Griffey Jr. was in this Draft -- it'd be easy. But … you guys don't have that, do you? If you do, let me know.