In the weeks leading
up to the draft, Perfect Game will be providing a detailed overview
of each state in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, as
well as Canada and Puerto Rico. These overviews will list the
state's strengths, weaknesses and the players with the best tools, as
well as providing mini-scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players.
Minnesota State-by-State List
Roof Collapse Mars Spring Baseball in Minnesota, Upper Midwest
The entire 2011 baseball
season in Minnesota—and indeed much of the Upper Midwest—changed
in a flash last Dec. 12, when the Teflon roof at the Metrodome in
Minneapolis collapsed under the weight of a gigantic snowstorm.
Not only was the
Metrodome home to the University of Minnesota baseball team, but
dozens of regional schools, as well. The facility received especially
heavy use in the cold-weather months of February and March, until
outdoor fields became playable.
Without the Metrodome,
teams were left scrambling to re-schedule games, while playing many
of them in less-than-ideal conditions. It was particularly
disconcerting for scouts, whose assigned territories in the Upper
Midwest tend to be vast. Having the Metrodome as the focal point of
their early-season coverage enabled them to see far more players than
they would typically be able to see over the course of a normal
spring season. In the final analysis, a lot of players didn’t get
scouted as thoroughly as desired this spring, and some players at
more remote schools never got seen at all.
As the highest-profile
baseball program in the state, the plight of the Golden Gophers’
2011 season illustrates the issues that stemmed from the Metrodome
The team finished their
regular-season schedule with a 22-22 record, playing only 44 games of
the standard 56-game schedule. Only 13 of the games were at home,
with a couple played at their former home, antiquated Siebert Field,
and the balance at the Minnesota Twins new home park, Target Field.
The Gophers scheduled 13 games in California in March (along with
three in Arizona), but the extremely wet spring in that state,
ironically, forced cancelation of six of those games. Another four
home games in April and May fell victim to the elements.
Another victim of the
Metrodome roof collapse was Perfect Game, which was scheduled to hold
its annual National Showcase at the facility in mid-June, but was
forced to reschedule the event in Fort Myers, Fla.
Once play began across
the state, it was evident that 2011 was not going to be a banner year
for prospects in Minnesota—regardless of the number of looks scouts
got at the top players.
Until late in the spring,
there was no guarantee that a single player from Minnesota would be
picked in the top 10 rounds, something that hadn’t happened since
A pair of 6-foot-5
righthanders, T.J. Oakes of the University of Minnesota and Ben
Hughes of Division III St. Olaf College, emerged, though. Oakes
gained the attention of scouts early in the year on the strength of
his 88-91 mph hard sinker and superior pitchability, something he
undoubtedly developed from his father Todd, the Gophers pitching
coach for the past 13 years.
The concern all along
with Oakes was that while his slider was a workable second offering,
he lacked the swing-and-miss pitch needed to make hitters
uncomfortable. But Oakes’ velocity steadily improved over the
course of the spring and by late in the season was up to 91-94 mph
with heavy movement, causing scouts to re-evaluate their opinion of
Hughes threw relatively
hard for a Division III pitcher as a sophomore, but went just 5-6,
5.51. He began a significant turnaround last summer in the Northwoods
League, repeating his mechanics more consistently while touching
93-94 mph, and continued his strong showing this spring. Scouts are
concerned about Hughes’ extremely long arm action, but he throws
five pitches for strikes, including a split-finger changeup that can
be a plus pitch at times.
A second small college
player, sophomore third baseman Jordan Smith of Division II St. Cloud
State, could also factor into the picture in the early rounds. He is
a fundamentally-sound hitter, capable of
spraying line drives to all fields, and hit .382-7-57 with 22 doubles
on the season.
lefthander Austin Malinowski is easily the state’s top high-school
prospect and was cross-checked enough that there might be a team
willing to buy him out of a scholarship to Arizona. He is still raw
mechanically in his 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame, but has a loose, fast
arm and should gain velocity on a fastball that already touches 91
Minnesota in a
High-school position players.
(1-to-5 scale): 2.
BEST COLLEGE TEAM:
BEST HIGH-SCHOOL TEAM:
PROSPECT ON THE RISE:
T.J. Oakes, rhp, University of Minnesota. The son of Gophers
pitching coach Todd Oakes, T.J. had an outside chance of going in the
top 10 rounds when he was throwing 88-91 mph early in the year. He
was throwing a 91-94 mph power sinker late in the year, forcing
scouts to re-evaluate his draft status.
PROSPECT ON THE
DECLINE: Pat Kelly, 2b, Red Wing HS. Kelly participated in
the Area Code Games after his sophomore year at Red Wing High on the
basis of his advanced bat and mature infield actions, but hasn’t
improved much since. He may not even be drafted and in all likelihood
will attend college at Nebraska this fall.
WILD CARD: Justin
Gominsky, of, University of, Minnesota. Gominsky is by far the
best athlete playing baseball in the state, and looks the part of a
top prospect at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds. He missed almost all of the
2010 season with a knee injury, though, and was clearly rusty this
season. Scouts say his missed time impacted his swing more than his
speed or defensive ability.
PROSPECT, Minnesota Connection: Madison Boer, rhp, University of
Oregon (attended high school in Eden Prairie).
TOP 2012 PROSPECT:
Billy Soule, rhp, University of Minnesota.
TOP 2013 PROSPECT: Tom
Windle, lhp, University of Minnesota.
HIGHEST DRAFT PICKS
Draft History: Joe
Mauer, c, Cretin-Derham Hall, St. Paul (2001, Twins/1st round, 1st pick).
2006 Draft: Aaron
Senne, of, Mayo HS, Rochester (Twins/13th round).
2007 Draft: Dan
Lyons, ss, U. of Minnesota (Nationals/14th round).
2008 Draft: Brad
Hand, lhp, Chaska HS (Marlins/2nd round).
2009 Draft: Derek
McCallum, 2b, U. of Minnesota (Twins/4th round).
2010 Draft: Mike
Kvasnicka, c/3b, U. of Minnesota (Astros/1st round, 33rd pick).
TOP PROSPECTS, GROUPS
ONE and TWO
TWO (Projected HIGH-Round Draft /
1. T.J. OAKES, rhp,
University of Minnesota (So.)
Age-eligible SO; + velo
increase late, now T-94, + hard sink, good SL; + competitor, lacks
2. BEN HUGHES, rhp,
St. Olaf University (Jr.)
6-5/210 RHP, dominated
D-3 level (7-1, 57IP/83 SO), 5 pitches, FB tops at 94, + split CH,
3. AUSTIN MALINOWSKI,
lhp, Centennial HS, Lino Lakes
Lots of cross-check
looks, 6-4/205, FB upper 80s/T-92, good CU, raw mechanics, 5-0, 0.34,
4. JUSTIN GOMINSKY,
of, University of Minnesota (Jr.)
R/S SO, still on mend; +
athlete at 6-4/200, + speed/arm, plays CF, RH bat, long swing, lacks
power for size.
JORDAN SMITH, 3b, St. Cloud State (So.)
bat, sprays L-D to all fields; + year in D-2 (.382-7-57), 3B in 2011,
profiles as 1B/OF.