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Twins optimistic about draft picks
06/08/2004  9:23 PM ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- They scouted thousands of kids and ultimately drafted 54.

The Twins scouting department emerged from their "war room" optimistic, having completed the second day of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. But all are keenly aware there is no instant gratification in determining whether their selections will yield success or failure.

"You guys (in the media) can tell me that in about five years ... or less," Twins scouting director Mike Radcliff joked.

Minnesota had three first-round picks and two supplemental round draft picks within the top 39 selections -- unprecedented in the club's history.

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"We got so many extra picks, we think we took advantage of that," Radcliff said. "Going in, we thought it was an average draft, nothing more -- if you're amenable to taking high school players, which we are."

Of the 54 players drafted by the organization over 50 rounds, 24 were out of high schools. Overall, 33 pitchers were taken. But because of the big five picks early, most of the scouting efforts and heavy lifting were skewed to the top of the draft.

Minnesota got a shortstop it coveted in 20th pick Trevor Plouffe of Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, Calif., then used the other four to take pitchers they believe can be future starters in lefty Glen Perkins (22nd pick) and right-handers Kyle Waldrop (25th), Matthew Fox (35th) and Jay Rainville (39th).

A majority of the signing bonus money available will be allocated to sign those five players. It meant not much will be left for signing guys in the later rounds, especially on day two. After originally projecting that around 15 players would be signed when he entered draft week, Radcliff now believes 22 or 23 might be signed. Many of those will be college seniors that don't require much spending.

"We'll be drafting and following guys that might turn out," Radcliff said. "We might spend some money on them eventually. We knew we wouldn't be signing a bunch of guys in this crop on the second day. We focused our resources on the first six or seven or eight rounds."

Of the handful of day two picks projected to be signed, there was catcher Tim Lahey in the 20th round. Outfielders Deacon Burns of Northern State University and Landon Hunt of San Diego State were the 26th and 27th rounds and right-handed pitcher Jeffrey Mousser came out the 35th round from Arizona State University.

A pair of locals taken on day two -- third baseman Joseph Abellera from Hopkins, Minn. High School in the 21st round and right-handed pitcher Aaron Craig from Rochester, Minn. in the 28th round -- have a chance to be signed, but both might pursue opportunities in junior college.

Radcliff said he wanted to find a catcher in the top 10 rounds but didn't find one. It was the only negative aspect of what he considered a positive two days.

"Our catching in the lower minor leagues could use some help," Radcliff said. "We weren't able to address that."

Twins general manager Terry Ryan mostly observes and listens in the war room during the draft and defers to the judgment of Radcliff and his staff.

"They work extensively on trying to get players with good skills and quality makeup," Ryan said. "Guys that we can bring into the system that we can be proud of. If they're content and convinced and confident, then I am as well."

Now we wait five years to see if they're right.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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