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Polished righty Wimmers is Twins' top pick

Polished righty Wimmers is Twins' top pick

MINNEAPOLIS -- It didn't take long for the comparisons to start between the Twins' latest Draft pick and a former Minnesota pitcher.

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Twins director of scouting Deron Johnson was asked if right-hander Alex Wimmers, whom the club selected with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft on Monday night, resembled any Major League pitcher. And Johnson immediately related Wimmers' best pitch, a changeup, to that of a well-known former Twins hurler, Brad Radke.

"He throws strikes," Johnson said of Wimmers. "He's not a soft-tosser. He'll touch 92-93 [miles per hour] when he needs it. He pitches to contact. He's got a good breaking ball. [He has] everything we look for in a starting pitcher."

Wimmers, 21, fits the profile of what the Twins have come to value in their starting rotation, and that's pitchers who are not afraid to throw the ball over the plate and also possess the knowledge of how to pitch rather than just relying on stuff.

And so for the second consecutive year, the Twins drafted a college pitcher who fits that mold. Wimmers joins Missouri right-hander Kyle Gibson, who was the 22nd overall pick last year and has already been tabbed as a quick riser through the club's Minor League system. Gibson, a standout thus far, has already has been promoted to Double-A New Britain.

Wimmers could also move quickly through Minnesota's farm system. He features a four-pitch mix that includes a fastball that reaches the low-90-mph range, a changeup, curveball and slider. Scouting reports say that like many of the Twins' current starters, such as Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey, Wimmers possesses good command and has a solid presence on the mound. Minnesota officials are pleased with his makeup and pitching acumen. Projections have Wimmers as a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher.

But what perhaps separates Wimmers from many other college pitchers in this Draft is his best pitch -- his changeup.

Twins vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff described Wimmers' changeup as one that "can be a top of the scale changeup" and Joe McIlvaine, the Twins' special assistant to the general manager, raved about the pitch while speaking to the MLB Network at the Draft.

"His changeup was as good as any Major League pitcher," said McIlvaine.

Wimmers said he developed his changeup while pitching in the Valley League during the summer between his freshman and sophomore years at Ohio State. Knowing that he had the opportunity to join the rotation in his second year playing for the Buckeyes, Wimmers wanted to add a third pitch to his repertoire to increase his chances of starting.

"I was able to find something that was able to keep hitters off-balance," Wimmers said of his changeup. "Early on that freshman summer, I was a little hesitant trying to figure out the pitch. But I just kept working on it. ... It finally worked out that I found one that in my eyes is a very, very good pitch. It's been to my advantage."

Wimmers went on to earn consecutive Big Ten Pitcher of the Year honors in the two seasons after spending that summer honing his changeup. Despite a hamstring injury that forced him to miss four weeks of this season, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Wimmers went 9-0 with a 1.60 ERA as a junior en route to being named a first-team All-American for the second consecutive season.

He is tied for 16th all-time in Big Ten history with 273 career strikeouts. In 73 innings for the Buckeyes this season, he struck out 86 and walked 23.

But it's his changeup that still gets the most rave reviews.

"That is different, no matter if you're [in] high school or college," Radcliff said of having such a quality changeup at Wimmers' age. "That's different."

A Cincinnati native, Wimmers attended Moeller High School -- the alma mater of former Major Leaguers Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Larkin.

The deadline for clubs to sign their 2010 Draft picks is 11 p.m. CT on Monday, Aug. 16. The Twins said they don't forsee any issues in getting Wimmers signed.

"Being chosen by Minnesota, it is a great team with great pitchers, and I think I fit in perfectly in the organization," Wimmers said. "[It'll be] a little while before I get up there, and I hope I get up there soon and be out [on] Target Field."

Wimmers was the Twins' only selection on Day 1 of the Draft. Minnesota will select 71st overall in the second round when the Draft resumes Tuesday.

Coverage for rounds 2-50 will air exclusively on MLB.com/Live. Rounds 2-30 will be streamed on Tuesday, beginning at 11 a.m. CT, and rounds 31-50 will be streamed on Wednesday, starting at 11 a.m. Host Pete McCarthy will be joined by Jonathan Mayo and former general manager Jim Duquette.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["first-year_player_draft" ] }
{"content":["first-year_player_draft" ] }