Hicks has drawn comparisons to Orioles center fielder Adam Jones and is the most ballyhooed outfield/pitcher prospect coming out of Los Angeles since Darryl Strawberry.
Gutierrez is a college closer with a wicked sinker who will return to his roots as a starter with the Twins. Hunt, meanwhile, has great stuff, but will have to work on his control.
The Twins were lauded for stealing Hunt, whom Baseball America called the 11th best prospect heading into the Draft -- but ESPN.com's Keith Law wrote that Gutierrez was one of the two worst picks of Round 1. Johnson takes the accolades and criticism in stride.
"I thought me and Keith had a good relationship," Johnson joked. "He was like a deer in the headlights when we picked Ben Revere last year, so you take that with a grain of salt. There were some teams that had Carlos right there at the bottom of the first and in the sandwich picks. He has a heck of a sinker. We had him pegged, and that was a guy we wanted. Hunt, we didn't think he would be there at 31. We got lucky."
The Revere pick was almost universally panned and labeled a "signability" selection after the 2007 Draft. But Revere has since prospered in the Minor Leagues, giving one example of the fickle nature of Draft evaluation.
With the Twins' last four Day 1 selections, they took a pair of fast position players and a pair of big right-handed starters. Shortstop Tyler Ladendorf (6-2, 210 pounds) of Howard College and center fielder Daniel Ortiz (5-11, 166 pounds) of Benjamin Harrison High School are both fast and athletic. Ladendorf has power, but might have to switch positions in the pros. Robert Lanigan (6-5, 190 pounds) was a Division II ace with a solid fastball and slider. Brett Hermsen (6-foot-6, 230 pounds) is young, big and projectable but a broken collarbone leaves questions. He signed with Oregon State.
"We got players that we zeroed in on early," Johnson said. "Luckily, we got them. Let's see in four or five years how they turn out. But we are happy."
On the Draft's second day, the team dipped into local water. Kyle Carr, a junior and native of North Dakota, was the first Gopher taken by the Twins, in the 12th round. Johnson said he was the best left-hander on the board when the team made its selection. Outfielder Matt Nohelty was selected in the 18th round and third baseman Nate Hanson was tabbed in the 28th round.
Twins' top five selections
|14.||OF||Aaron Hicks||Woodrow Wilson HS (Calif.)|
|27.||RHP||Carlos Gutierrez||U of Miami|
|31.||RHP||Steven Hunt||Tulane U|
|60.||SS||Tyler Ladendorf||Howard Col|
|92.||RHP||Robert Lanigan||Adelphi U|
|Complete Twins Draft results >|
The Twins also took right-handed pitcher Christopher Odegaard from Minnesota State, Mankato, in round 23 and high school third baseman Joseph Loftus, from Academy of the Holy Angels in Richfield, in round 29. Loftus was projected to go higher but has stated he will probably go to college. He signed with Vanderbilt. The Twins rounded out the local picks by taking catcher Samuel Ryan from Tartan High School in Round 35.
"We definitely like to protect our backyard," Johnson said. "But those kids are prospects."
Johnson was happy when the player the team had pegged as its No. 1 target after the Draft's first day, lefty Daniel Osterbrock from Cincinnati University, was available when the team selected their first pick on Friday. Johnson said Osterbrock would add to the organization's already impressive pitching depth.
Osterbrock throws four pitches -- fastball, curveball, change, slider -- and Johnson said he had a bulldog mentality with good makeup.
The Twins then took Jeffrey Lanning from New Orleans University. Johnson likes his bat. Minnesota got some power with its next pick, when they selected massive Michael Gonzales. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound left-handed-swinging first baseman from Diablo Valley College has good mobility for a big man and has good power potential.
The Twins stayed in the family later when they took Michael Tonkin out of Palmdale High School in California with the 906th overall selection. Tonkin is the brother-in-law of outfielder Jason Kubel. The 6-foot-7, 215-pound right-hander has a deceptive and jerky delivery. He possesses good arm strength.
Johnson said Dominic De La Osa could be a sleeper. De La Osa was selected in the 10th round by the Tigers last year, but elected to return to Vanderbilt. He played right field in college, but Johnson said he will be a second baseman in the Twins' organization. Johnson likes his bat, although De La Osa struggled at times last year.
The Twins selected 52 players total, and had a meeting on Friday night discussing the money they will offer to their picks.