06/07/2004 2:26 PM ET
Twins stock up in first round
Two pitchers and a shortstop drafted early
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins scouting director Mike Radcliff sensed Monday was going to be a good day, but not until it was time to start making picks.
His organization had three first-round picks in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft and five picks over the top 39 -- compensation for losing relievers Eddie Guardado and LaTroy Hawkins as free agents over the winter.
But that first pick wasn't until No. 20 and many of their coveted names are normally off the board. Then Radcliff saw shortstop Trevor Plouffe was still around and knew things were about to fall in line.
Minnesota addressed a big organizational need for middle infielders by taking Plouffe out of Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, Calif. at No. 20. Then the 22nd pick was used on left-handed pitcher Glen Perkins from the University of Minnesota.
"We did a lot of work on him and Perkins as to where they would possibly go," Radcliff said. "When Plouffe made it to 20, we knew were going to get both of those guys. So we felt really good about that. Those were two guys we definitely pinpointed up there for the first three picks."
A high school right-hander, Kyle Waldrop, was taken with the 25th overall pick out of Farragut High School in Knoxville, Tenn.
While the organization spent hours scouting the players' various abilities, the players apparently also did their research and knew how much of a premium the club places on developing its talent from within.
"I think their organization has a great history," said Plouffe just before leaving the house to go buy some Twins apparel. "They do great things with their players. It's an organization where I can move up very quickly. If I perform, I can see myself getting an opportunity."
"To be honest, this was the organization I looked forward to be drafted by the most," said Waldrop. "They're big on having their players move up through the minor leagues and have them grow within the Twins system. They've got some good teams there."
Standing 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, Plouffe was rated as the third-best pure hitter among high schoolers by Baseball America and batted .509 (28-for-55) six home runs, 20 RBIs, 10 stolen bases and 23 runs scored.
With a fastball in the low 90s, many clubs were thought to be looking at him as either a shortstop or a pitcher much earlier in the first round.
That's why Radcliff felt fortunate he was still available.
"It's a guy we've targeted for a long time," Radcliff said. "We're pretty deep on him. We've got a lot of information."
"I think I'm decent in the field and I can bring versatility," said Plouffe, who was named a 2004 Collegiate Baseball News High School All-American. "But I'm happy to be focusing on being a shortstop. It's a chance to play every day instead of every fifth day."
Plouffe, who turns 18 June 15, had signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Southern California.
"I'm going to have to pass that up," Plouffe said. "My chance is to play professionally so that's what I want to do. I'm excited that I don't have homework to do anymore."
The 21-year-old Perkins went 9-3 with a 2.83 ERA in 15 starts as a Golden Gophers sophomore this season and was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Year. He also plans to pursue a pro career. His experience makes him likely the closest of three first-rounders to the Majors.
"It's a dream come true to play for the Twins," said Perkins, who grew up in nearby Stillwater, Minn. "I've wanted to do this my whole life."
Perkins was a combined 15-0 in Big Ten games over the past two seasons and holds the school record for strikeouts in a season with 117 in 2003. He nearly equaled that mark this year by striking out 113, with just 21 walks.
"He's had a very successful college career over at the U," Radcliff said. "We're really happy to get him."
"I'm ready to play baseball and take the next step and start my professional career," Perkins said. "I don't plan on being a summer holdout but I just want to be treated fairly."
Standing 6-foot-4, 190 Waldrop posted a 14-0 record with a 0.15 ERA with 118 strikeouts and just seven walks in 14 starts this season. The Twins liked Waldrop's durability, makeup and his ability to throw strikes.
"He's got a big, strong body. He's athletic," Radcliff said. "He's got great focus and a great presence about him and he's got a full mix that he can throw over the plate right now. He fits the bill in all the things we look to project for a high school pitcher."
Waldrop signed a letter of intent to attend Vanderbilt University and many clubs passed on him because they expected him to go the collegiate route. The Twins remained in the hunt, especially after the pitcher played on a high school showcase team sponsored by the club and coached by their area scout, Tim O'Neil.
"Right now, the pro opportunity is higher than Vanderbilt at this time," Waldrop said. "It's always been a dream come true to play professional baseball. I know I have some steps to take before I get (to the big leagues). I'll do everything in my will to get there. The time it takes will be decided by my performance."
Identifying talent, especially at the highest level, can often be a crapshoot in the draft. So can knowing whether someone will sign. The Twins felt they did their due diligence in both factors. They couldn't afford not to.
"That was part of the plan we had to execute," Radcliff said. "We got all these picks and what comes with that is an expense. It costs money for high draft choices. We had to dig in and bear down on signability and what their options were. We feel confident right now that not only do we have guys that fill the bill athletically and potential-wise as a player but are also going to be signed."
Crespi Carmelite HS
Position: SS B/T: R/R
H: 6-1 W: 175
Born: 1986-06-15 Class: HS
LEAN, WIRY, WELL PROPORTIONED BODY. SQUARE SHOULDERS. NARROW WAIST. SLENDER HIPS. LEAN, MUSCULAR ARMS. PROJECTABLE BODY. NO WINDUP, HIGH 3/4, OCCAISIONAL SIDE ARM. HIGH LEG KICK, BREAKS HANDS AT WAIST. ML FB W/ OCCAISIONAL PLUS VELOCITY, TAILING, SINKING MOVEMENT WHEN DOWN. CB HAS LATE BREAK, BITE WHEN ON TOP. GOOD TAILING, SINKING ACTION ON DECEPTIVE CHANGEUP. THROWS STRIKES. GOOD COMPETITOR. GOOD FEEL FOR PITCHING. TURNS UP DIAL WHEN HE HAS TO.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.