Twins buck Lottery odds with 5th pick in 2023 Draft

December 7th, 2022

The inaugural MLB Draft Lottery ensured that all non-playoff teams would have a chance to receive the highest picks in the following year’s Draft -- and no team benefited from the newly structured rules more than the Twins.

Minnesota entered Tuesday night with the 13th-best odds in the Lottery -- and emerged with the No. 5 overall pick. That marked, by far, the largest positive difference in any team’s Draft odds and pick location, illustrating the potentially drastic impact of the new system meant to deter tanking by non-competitive teams for high Draft selections.

This will mark the Twins' first top-five selection since 2017, when they took current No. 2 prospect Royce Lewis with the No. 1 overall pick.

“I was telling everyone all week that I had a weird feeling that we’re going to actually get into the top six, but I said that’s also the same feeling that’s led to massive casinos being built in Las Vegas,” Twins vice president of amateur scouting Sean Johnson told reporters in San Diego.

“It was surreal. It was a lot of fun. Being in the back row with the other guys, we were like, maybe one of us will get up there somehow."

2022 MLB Draft Lottery picks

1. Pirates (entered tied for best odds)
2. Nationals (entered tied for best odds)
3. Tigers (entered with 6th-best odds)
4. Rangers (entered with 7th-best odds)
5. Twins (entered with 13th-best odds)
6. A's (entered tied for best odds)

How did this happen?

The new Draft Lottery determined the order of the top six selections in the first round, with all 18 non-playoff teams assigned weighted odds according to their regular season record, ranging from 16.5% odds for the teams with the three worst records to 0.2% for the best non-playoff team, with additional restrictions preventing teams from receiving Lottery picks for too many consecutive seasons.

After the top six selections, the remainder of the first round will be ordered as usual -- in reverse order according to winning percentage, then, by playoff finish.

Within that framework, the Twins entered with 0.9% odds -- more than 18 times worse than the A’s (16.5%) -- but will still get a shot at the top talent in the 2023 MLB Draft before Oakland. The Tigers and Rangers also beat their Draft odds by three spots and will pick ahead of the A’s, who entered tied for the best odds for the No. 1 pick but will instead choose first at No. 6.

Such is the impact of the most stringent anti-tanking measures among the amateur Draft models in the “Big Four” men’s professional sports: A result in which the 78-84 Twins pick ahead of the 60-102 A’s.

“I was like, if we get into the top six, I’m not going to be greedy,” Johnson said. “We’ll take whatever we get at that point. Whether it was one or six, we were ecstatic.”

The importance of this top-five pick for the Twins can’t be understated. They turned their No. 8 selection last season into Brooks Lee, their new top-ranked prospect in the organization according to MLB Pipeline, who could impact the Major Leagues within the next two seasons.

It’s also significant in that Minnesota has essentially parted ways with the entire top of its 2021 MLB Draft class, trading away four of its top five selections within the last year, including first-rounder Chase Petty.

This pick should go a long way in helping the Twins bolster the top of their farm system with one of the very best players available in the next amateur class. Johnson said the club’s scouting group had already been preparing for this scenario, on the off chance they’d move up.

They’re feeling prepared to take advantage of this stroke of fortune.

“Each Draft is a little different, but we’ve actually thought about the timing of this Lottery affecting our fall [scouting] coverage. Should we be spending time at the schools of guys at the top or not?” Johnson said. “But we decided to go anyway, just in case. It’s going to pay off, because our guys have done a lot of work on those top guys, just in the event we moved up, which we did.”