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Twins land pitching in compensation round

MINNEAPOLIS -- After drafting the best available talent with their top pick on Monday, the Twins targeted pitching with two compensation picks.

Minnesota used the 32nd overall pick on Jose Berrios, a right-handed pitcher from Puerto Rico's Papa Juan XXIII High School. The Twins followed that by selecting Georgia Tech right-hander Luke Bard with the No. 42 pick. The club obtained the two compensation picks after losing Type A free agent Michael Cuddyer and Type B free agent Jason Kubel, respectively.

Twins scouting director Deron Johnson said both are strikeout-oriented pitchers.

"We feel good," Johnson said. "We targeted pitchers after we went position players. I think we succeeded in that aspect. I'm happy with what we got. We think we got some high-ceiling players."

Berrios, a 6-foot, 190-pounder, owns a fastball in the 92-94 mph range, topping out around 96. The 18-year-old also throws a hard curveball often confused for a slider, as well as a changeup with good movement.

Johnson said he saw Berrios throw a no-hitter against a Puerto Rican All-Star team with No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa in the lineup. Berrios struck out 14 batters, coming close to a perfect game, according to Johnson.

"He's a really good athlete," Johnson said. "He changes speeds well. We think he's an advanced pitcher for a young high school kid. He can elevate his fastball."

Bard recorded a 0.99 ERA in 27 1/3 innings as a junior with the Yellow Jackets this past season, striking out 26 batters. The 21-year-old was originally selected by Boston with a 16th-round pick in 2009, but chose to attend school instead of signing.

The Charlotte native has pitched primarily as a reliever during his college career, but Johnson said the Twins project him to be a starter. Bard owns a three-pitch mix that includes a 92-96 mph fastball, slider, and changeup.

"We think he has a legitimate chance to start," Johnson said. "He's got a really good arm action. He's got a good delivery. We see no reason why he can't start."

Johnson said Bard's inability to throw strikes earlier in his career was the primary reason Georgia Tech used him as a reliever.

"I think that was the problem he had early in his career," Johnson said. "His walk numbers were tremendously down this year. We're going to give him every opportunity to start."

Bard's 2012 season was cut short when he suffered a lat strain, but Johnson said the Twins weren't concerned that the injury is too serious. He is already throwing again, Johnson said, and Minnesota is hopeful he'll be back on the mound by late summer.

He is the younger brother of Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard, and the son of Paul Bard, who played a total of five seasons in the Minor Leagues in the Dodgers and Orioles organizations.

Minnesota will open on Tuesday with the third pick of the second round, at No. 63 overall. Johnson said the team will likely continue to focus on pitching.

"There's a lot of pitchers up on our board," Johnson said. "There's always pitching. You can get some velocity down there. The cream of the crop goes on the first day. You'll get some college relievers with some velocity in the next couple rounds, I would think."

Minnesota Twins