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Twins could focus on pitching in this year's Draft

Club picking 20th after taking Lewis No. 1 last year
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- After taking shortstop Royce Lewis with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 Draft, the Twins find themselves in a different situation in '18 after their surprising run to the American League Wild Card Game last season, as they have the No. 20 overall selection this year.

MINNEAPOLIS -- After taking shortstop Royce Lewis with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 Draft, the Twins find themselves in a different situation in '18 after their surprising run to the American League Wild Card Game last season, as they have the No. 20 overall selection this year.

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

Minnesota also had three of the top 37 picks in '17, but this year, the club's first two selections are No. 20 and No. 59 after they dealt the No. 74 pick as part of the Phil Hughes trade. The Twins lost their third-round pick after signing right-hander Lance Lynn, who declined the Cardinals' qualifying offer. But the Twins believe it's a strong Draft and there will be plenty of talent still on the board when it's their turn to pick.

"It's different at 20 than it was a year ago," Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. "There's a smaller subset of players. But we feel really good about the crop of guys we've evaluated; we think we'll be there at 20."

The 2018 Draft will take place today through Wednesday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 5 p.m. CT today. MLB Network will broadcast the first 43 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 78 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, with a preview show beginning at 11:30 a.m. CT. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on Day 3, beginning at 11 a.m. CT.

Go to MLB.com/draft to see the Top 200 Prospects list, projected top picks from MLB Pipeline analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.

Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Twins.

In about 50 words
The Twins aren't selecting in the top 15 for the first time since 2011, but with two of the first 59 picks, they have an opportunity to add to an already strong farm system that boasts five players ranked among MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects.

The scoop
This is the second Draft under the new leadership led by Falvey, general manager Thad Levine and scouting director Sean Johnson. Last year, the Twins got creative, signing Lewis for under his slot value, allowing them to sign other highly regarded selections for over-slot such as right-hander Blayne Enlow. But the Twins have less bonus money to work with this year, so it will be tougher to pull off. Minnesota also employs a best-player available strategy.

"The players impact you so many years away that drafting for need in the amateur draft can lead you down the wrong path," Falvey said.

First-round buzz
Both Mayo and Callis have the Twins selecting Florida right-hander Jackson Kowar with the No. 20 overall pick. They've also been linked to high school right-handers such as Cole Winn (Calif.), Grayson Rodriguez (Texas) and Cole Wilcox (Ga.).

Money matters
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $125,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.

Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75 percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75 percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100 percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100 percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.

This year, the Twins have a pool of $6,745,200 to spend in the first 10 rounds, including $3,120,000 to spend on their first selection.

Shopping list
The Twins seem to always go heavy on pitching and shortstops, but they could use a catcher or two at the lower levels. Falvey said there's no such thing as having too much pitching and he generally likes half of the club's selections to be pitchers. Last year, of the club's 41 picks, 21 were pitchers.

Trend watch
Minnesota loaded up on left-handed pitchers early last year, as three of their first nine selections were southpaws. They love athletic position players who can play multiple positions up the middle, while they're big on pitchers with clean deliveries. They went heavy on college players last year, as 31 of their 41 picks were from the college ranks.

RECENT DRAFT HISTORY
Rising fast
Shortstop Nick Gordon, the club's No. 4 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com, was promoted to Triple-A Rochester on May 22 and is hitting .332/.374/.505 with 23 extra-base hits and seven stolen bases in 56 games between Triple-A and Double-A. He could make his Major League debut this season, potentially as a September callup and could be a regular next year, depending on what the Twins do with impending free agents Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar.

Cinderella story
Right-handed reliever Trevor Hildenberger was a 22nd-round Draft pick in 2014, but has emerged as a dependable bullpen option for the Twins. The sidearmer had a breakout rookie season last year, posting a 3.21 ERA in 37 appearances and is one of the club's top setup relievers this season.

In The Show
Byron Buxton, the No. 2 overall pick in 2012, has established himself as the game's fastest player and the best defensive player, while right-hander Jose Berrios, the No. 32 pick in the '12 Draft, is developing into a frontline starter. Catcher Mitch Garver, a ninth-round pick in 2013, is the club's starting catcher after Jason Castro's season-ending knee surgery.

The Twins' recent top picks
2017: Royce Lewis, SS, Class A Cedar Rapids. 2016: Alex Kirilloff, OF, Class A Cedar Rapids. 2015: Tyler Jay, LHP, Double-A Chattanooga. 2014: Nick Gordon, SS, Triple-A Rochester. 2013: Kohl Stewart, RHP, Double-A Chattanooga

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins