10:56 MDT -- The game's going to start in a few minutes, and I just have to say going in that I share the general frustration expressed all over the Strib and the blogosphere over the Twins decision to carry 13 pitchers. I understand the reasoning, but I strongly disagree with it because I think it makes the Twins worse off. Here's hoping Scott Baker and Co. make it a non-issue today.
11:11 MDT -- Very nice play by Justin Morneau at first to help Baker get the out against the first batter he faced. Good way to start the game!
11:22 MDT -- Baker again gets help from the defense, as Nick Punto makes a nice diving play to end the inning on a looping ball that looked to be headed up the middle. Baker threw far too many pitches in the first inning (22), but otherwise it was a very successful return to action.
11:28 MDT -- Once again Alexi Casilla plays a role in getting the Twins on the board early. First, he picked up a single by knocking a ball past the third baseman into left field, and then he used his speed to score on a Mike Redmond double. He ended up scoring easily because the ball got away from the relay man, but I couldn't tell whether Scott Ullger was being aggressive in sending him or whether Casilla ran through a stop sign from the angles they showed me on the Orioles feed. Either way, this was yet another example of how speed at the top of the order can change the game.
11:40 MDT -- Baker survives the second after giving up a ground-rule double down the right field line to Kevin Millar (wondering how you get a ground rule double in right field in the Metrodome? The ball goes out to the right of the bag, in foul territory, after landing just inside the line). The next batter also drilled the ball hard, but Delmon was in position to make the catch. Two groundouts later and Baker was through two innings. Even better -- he only needed 14 pitches to get through the inning, which is a reasonable number. If he's going to go 6+ tonight, though, he's going to need at least one quick inning where he needs fewer than 10 pitches.
11:46 MDT -- It wasn't a homerun, but Delmon Young just showed that he's willing to turn on a pitch and pull it for a hit. It's not like he's never done it before, but it sure seems like he usually looks for pitches away to push to right field. It's a good sign that he's not trying to do that with every pitch; he clearly intended to turn on this one and pull it to left.
12:02 MDT -- Baker is laboring. He doesn't seem to have the control or stuff right now to put batters away, and the deep counts came back to bite him as he gave up a two run shot to Nick Markakis. Baker is now up to 57 pitches with just 1 out in the 3rd, and I would say he'll be lucky to get through 5 innings. Hopefully he can turn it around, but it's not looking particularly promising.
12:10 MDT -- The commissioner is at the podium saying the kinds of things that commissioners say in these situations. And oh, by the way, the Tampa Bay Rays are now "officially" on the clock. How funny is it that one of the best teams in the big leagues this year has the first pick in the draft?
12:13 MDT -- Casilla does it again, doubling down the third base line. I really do love the Gomez-Casilla duo at the top of the lineup; it just opens up so many exciting possibilities!
12:17 MDT -- As expected, the Rays go with SS Tim Beckham to kick off the draft. Unless one of the Twins target players goes, I probably won't say much about the draft again until the Twins are up (at pick #14).
12:25 MDT -- Baker gets through the 4th inning without allowing another run, but he's now up to 80 pitches. Barring a 3-pitch miracle inning or something similar, the 5th would seem to be the end of the line for him.
12:32 MDT -- I got excited for a second -- Delmon turned on another one and put a swing on it that, at first, I thought was going to be enough to end this ridiculous homerless streak. Unfortunately, it ended up being nothing more than a routine fly to the left fielder. Still, he's 2-for-2 on pulling inside pitches to left, which would seem to be progress of some sort.
12:39 MDT -- Keith Law 1, Baseball America 0 -- both mock drafts had the first four picks right, but Law kept the streak alive by correctly predicting that the Giants would go with catcher Buster Posey instead of 1B Justin Smoak.
12:41 MDT -- Baker gets through the 5th, but with his pitch count sitting at 99 and Brian Bass warming up in the 'pen, his night would appear to be over. This start was a bit too "Bonser-esque" in terms of (in)efficiency, but at least he only allowed 2 runs and generally got back in the groove. I'm pleased, and hopefully the Twins offense can get going to prevent Baker from taking a loss.
12:44 MDT -- Law keeps his streak alive, correctly projecting that the Marlins would go with catcher Kyle Skipworth with the 6th spot. Baseball America had Skipworth falling to Houston in 10th. Since both Law and BA had the Marlins taking a catcher, it seems that it was pretty clear that they wanted to address that need coming in. Law correctly read the Giants interest in Posey and the fact that the Marlins would go with the second best catcher in the draft rather than go with a different position.
12:49 MDT -- Law is no longer perfect, as both he and BA predicted that the Reds would go with SS Gordon Beckham. Instead, they selected 1B Yonder Alonso out of the University of Miami, which seems to be a bit of a surprise.
12:51 MDT -- Alexi Casilla comes through for a third time tonight, driving in the game-tying run with yet another single to right field. I'm running out of superlatives for Casilla real quick. Baker, incidentally, is now off the hook. Thanks Alexi!
1:01 MDT -- Bass has a solid 6th inning (despite allowing a deep drive to center by the first batter that thankfully stayed in the park), while Baseball America evens the score against Keith Law by correctly suggesting that the Nationals would pick RHP Aaron Crow in the 9th spot.
1:06 MDT -- Delmon's pulled-ball streak ends as he goes the other way, driving the ball to the warning track where it's caught to end the bottom of the 6th. It looked to me like he made the right decision in going the other way with the pitch he faced, and since he almost took it off the baggy I can't complain too much.
1:09 MDT -- Adam Jones just destroyed a hanging curve from Brian Bass, giving the Orioles a 3-2 lead. Helps my fantasy team, but I can't say I'm pleased by this development.
1:11 MDT -- With two more picks before the Twins draft, they're guaranteed to get one of the players who has been regularly mentioned. The first choice seems to be outfielder Aaron Hicks out of Long Beach, California. Hicks is considered by Law to be an "athletic, high-upside high school bat." Baseball America calls him a "toolsy athlete." Seems like an exciting possibility. Also mentioned a lot has been lefty Christian Friedrich out of Eastern Kentucky University (although he's projected to possibly go to the Cardinals). One of those two should be the pick, but if both are gone the Twins could go with infielders Brett Lawrie or Jemile Weeks.
1:16 MDT -- Weeks goes to the Athletics at #12, which means the Twins will get either Hicks or Friedrich (barring a surprise move, which is certainly always possible).
1:22 MDT -- Alexi Casilla actually fails to come through, grounding into a double play to end the 7th. Meanwhile, the Cardinals go with 3B Brett Wallace, and the Twins have their choice of the players they were looking at. If the folks who know what they're looking for are right, the Twins will go with Hicks. We'll know inside of three minutes.
1:27 MDT -- So the Twins indeed go with Hicks, and the ESPN guys seem to like him. Of course, they're going to like all of these guys generally, since they're all great talents. Hicks is listed as an OF/RHP, but as has been discussed elsewhere, he's interested in playing in the field rather than pitching, and the Twins drafted him as an outfielder. I like this pick -- he's 6'2", and currently only weighs 175 pounds, but as Steve Phillips just said (just as I was writing this), he's got a frame that should be able to fill out really well. I really like this pick from the Twins -- they did exactly what the professional prognosticators thought they'd do, and didn't seem to reach. This gives them some flexibility to be a little more creative with the 27th or 31st pick if they so desire. Nice start to things!
1:38 MDT -- Ron Gardenhire gives us a hint of interesting things to come -- with a paucity of bench players around, Gardy puts Kevin Slowey in to pinch run for Mike Redmond after Red Dog gets a hit leading off the bottom of the 8th. We could be seeing a lot of this sort of thing . . .
1:44 MDT -- Gardy continues to get creative, pinch hitting Jason Kubel for Craig Monroe (resulting in a base hit) and then pinch hitting Joe Mauer (who was going to have to come in to replace Slowey anyway) for Delmon Young. With runners on 1st and 2nd and 2 out, Mauer had a chance to tie the game with a hit, but he rolled his hands over and grounded out to the right side. It was a good effort, but sadly came up short. The Twins will now have to try to beat George Sherrill in the 9th.
2:05 MDT -- Nick Punto gave the Twins a chance to win (yes, you read that right) by doubling with one out in the 9th. Carlos Gomez then popped out to left and Alexi Casilla, after a lengthy at-bat, succumbed to a strikeout. Twins lose, dropping the series to the Orioles. I'm now fully into draft-tracker mode.
2:22 MDT -- Two more picks before the Twins make their second selection of the first round. Interestingly, LHP Christian Friedrich is still available. Since the Twins were rumored to be interested in Friedrich with their first pick at #14, one would think they'd be thrilled if Friedrich falls to them at #27. Of course, there's always the possibility that the team isn't all that interested in Friedrich, and could go instead for outfielder Zach Collier or LHP Brett DeVall instead. The Twins are supposedly quite high on Collier, but I suspect that's because Friedrich was expected to be gone by the time their second pick rolled around. I think I'm rooting for Friedrich -- the Twins have had a lot of success drafting college pitchers, so they might as well keep going for it!
2:27 MDT -- Friedrich goes to the Rockies, which means the Twins will probably refocus on Collier if he gets past the D'Backs. If not, DeVall seems the likely pick, but again surprises are always possible.
2:38 MDT -- The Twins went with surprise at this spot, going with RHP Carlos Gutierrez out of the University of Miami instead of OF Zach Collier. Again, I like the Twins taking college pitchers, but I'm not as high on Gutierrez. For one thing, he's already had Tommy John surgery. Second, he's the lowest projected pick taken so far (82nd by Baseball America). Third, I keep hearing the word "surprise" coming from the desk, and that worries me a bit. However, Steve Phillips says he's a fast-track guy, and Peter Gammons says "Never bet against the Twins." For my part, I'm hoping Collier falls to the Twins at #31 -- or that they find a reasonable 3B prospect with that pick.
3:13 MDT -- The Twins have gone with another college pitcher, drafting RHP Shooter Hunt out of Tulane University with the 31st pick in the draft. Hunt is getting plenty of praise from the desk, although it sounds like he might be a little raw. The Twins now have to wait for 29 picks until they get to their second round pick. Picks are going to fly by from here on out, and I haven't a clue who the Twins will end up getting from here on out. I'll make my comments as the picks come up.
4:24 MDT -- After a seemingly interminable wait, the second round of the draft has begun. The Twins have taken two college right-handers and a high school outfielder so far. While I don't have any names to throw at you, my guess is that the Twins will now aim the top available infielder, hopefully a 3B type. I suspect that the Twins will pick infielders of some variety with several of their next few picks as they try to restock the system. There are 11 picks left before the Twins draft again, but those picks should go by pretty quickly.
4:29 MDT -- Now this is interesting -- Chaska lefty Brad Hand, who had been rumored as a possible reach for the Twins at #60 (he was seemingly projected in the 90's somewhere) has been selected by the Florida Marlins at #52. The Marlins may have thought that the Twins would reach for Hand at #60, and so decided to reach themselves to get him in the fold. I don't think that the Twins would have gone for Hand here based on what they've done so far today, but the temptation certainly would have been there. If that was the Twins plan, however, they now have to go in a different direction.
4:38 MDT -- As expected, the Twins have gone with an infielder for their second round pick, taking Howard College shortstop Tyler Ladendorf. According to MLB.com, Ladendorf has power, speed, and the ability to field. He's also not necessarily projected as a shortstop long term, so we'll see what he grows into moving forward. I like this pick -- the Twins needed to go after an infielder, and they seemed to have picked up a pretty good one here.
5:10 MDT -- With the 92nd pick in the draft (the Twins 5th, already!), they nabbed RHP Robert Lanigan out of Adelphi University. Again, we get a college pitcher. Again, it's a righty. Personally, by this point I would have liked to see a lefty drafted, but it is what it is. Lanigan had a 1.94 ERA in 79.0 innings this season in 13 games (11 starts). He also had an outstanding 87-16 K-BB ratio. I'm hoping for either an infielder or a lefty starter in round 3.
5:45 MDT -- Rather than going with an infielder or lefty starter, the Twins have drafted center fielder Daniel Ortiz, a high schooler who hits from the left side. At least based on his vitals, Ortiz is probably the type of speedy center fielder that the Twins seem to love drafting -- he's 5'11", 166 pounds. I have no other information on him, but looking at this numbers it seems rather unlikely that he's going to be anything like David Ortiz at the plate. Considering how many players the Twins have in the organization that fit this role, this seems like a bit of an odd pick. Until I see more on him, though, I'll give the Twins the benefit of the doubt.
6:14 MDT -- There's the third baseman I was looking for! The Twins have drafted switch-hitting Nicholas Romero out of San Diego State University. For some reason, I can't find SDSU stats for this season, but last year Romero hit 6 homers in 226 AB's while putting together a .319 average. At 6'01" and 200 pounds, Romero would seem to have a good frame. I'm guessing he projects as a power-hitting third baseman. Thank Goodness!
6:42 MDT -- In what could turn out to be the last pick of the day for the Twins, they have selected right hander Brett Hermsen out of West Delaware High School with their sixth round pick. Hermsen is 6'6" tall, which is intriguing. I don't know enough about him to say whether or not Hermsen is likely to sign or go to college. While I like drafting college pitchers early, I don't think there's anything wrong with drafting high school arms at this point in the draft (and of course, if there's a dynamic high school arm at the top of the draft, you'd be silly not to make the selection). If the Twins get another pick in tonight, I'll cover it. Otherwise, this will end the "live" blog. Thanks for reading!