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Signability Didn’t Dictate Twins Pick

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June 13, 2017

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The Twins used the No. 1 overall pick in last night’s Major League Draft on a surprise choice, California high school shortstop Royce Lewis. Although management had dropped no hints, a lot of Twins followers probably predicted and hoped that another California prep, pitcher-shortstop Hunter Greene, would be the choice.

But Twins president Dave St. Peter told Sports Headliners today that money and the likelihood of signing the club’s No. 1 pick didn’t dictate choosing Lewis who he said was at the top of Minnesota’s draft board. MLB policy allows a slot value of up to $7.7 million for the draft’s No. 1 selection. “We believe we can get a deal done with Royce for the allotted slot, but also maintain some flexibility deeper in the draft,” St. Peter said.

If Lewis signs for less than $7.7 million it will allow the Twins to potentially spend more on subsequent choices through the draft’s many rounds. But St. Peter said his club’s decision wasn’t based on saving money, and he talked enthusiastically about Lewis’ attributes including speed, potential power, leadership, charisma, and even describing Lewis as someone who “could evolve to be a face of our franchise.”

St. Peter referenced “a lot of different elements that we thought were separators for (drafting) Royce Lewis,” and that the club looked at many potential number one selections before deciding in the last 48 hours prior to Monday night’s draft to take Lewis, despite an acknowledged need for pitching in the organization. “We considered him the best player for the Minnesota Twins,” St. Peter said. “Time will tell. We are really comfortable that we have a great fit for the Twins in Royce Lewis.”

Greene was the glamour guy of the draft, playing two positions, throwing 100 miles per hour fast balls and landing this spring on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The Reds took him in the draft right after the Twins chose Lewis.

Greene was the top ranked player by Baseballamerica.com. Lewis, was ranked No. 5.  It’s interesting that the Twins used their first choice on a prospect who plays the same position as 21-year- old Nick Gordon. Gordon was the team’s No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft. Some authorities consider the young shortstop the No. 1 prospect in the Twins farm system. He is hitting .340 with the Double A Chattanooga Outlooks.

St. Peter said the Twins project Lewis as a player who can reach the majors as a shortstop. What about a potential competition some day between Gordon and Lewis to be Minnesota’s starting shortstop? “I put that in the category of a really good problem to have,” St. Peter said.

Falvey & Levine

Lewis was a player Twins evaluators have been watching for a long while and St. Peter said it was an “incredibly collaborative” decision by the club’s talent evaluators to choose Lewis. He also said that even “more voices’ than in the past were involved in the decision of what to do in the first round. That leadership is led by new baseball executives Derek Falvey and Thad Levine who St. Peter hired last fall.

Worth Noting

Twins’ 23-year-old pitcher Jose Berrios is 5-1 with a 2.84 ERA since being recalled from Triple A Rochester. He won his first Twins game May 13 and he has five of the club’s 13 wins since that date.

Lou Nanne’s left hip replacement went well last Friday and he arrived home from the hospital on Saturday, a day early. The Minnesota hockey legend has had two knee replacements, plus rotator cuff and prostate surgeries over the years following a career of playing in the NHL with the North Stars, the organization he also coached for and served as president.

Now a senior managing director for RBC, Nanne, 76, passionately follows the NHL. After watching the Stanley Cup Finals, he thinks the Wild could be close to making a deep playoff run next year.

Frank Ragnow, the Arkansas senior from Chanhassen High School, is the first team preseason All-American center choice by college football magazines Athlon and Lindy’s. Ragnow is a second team offensive line All-American by Street & Smith’s college football publication.

Athlon ranks the 21 major college coaching hires during the offseason and lists the Gophers’ P.J. Fleck as No. 2 in the country. Tom Herman, the new coach at Texas, is ranked No. 1.

Nothing has been announced but there is speculation the Gophers have extended the contract of men’s hockey coach Don Lucia beyond the 2018-2019 season. A year ago Lucia’s contract only went through the 2016-2017 season but was extended two years.

It likely won’t be long before an announcement regarding the Gophers’ opponent for a December 2018 basketball game in U.S. Bank Stadium, but one factor complicating a deal could be a return game. Minnesota may have to assure another school the Gophers will play a game on that foe’s home court at a later date.

Race Thompson

Race Thompson, the highly recruited Armstrong basketball player, leaves today for the prestigious NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Virginia. Thompson, who will be a senior at Armstrong next season, reportedly isn’t close to selecting a college from a list that includes the Gophers.

Minnesota war hero and motivational speaker John Kriesel shares his story on June 28 at the Capital Club breakfast gathering at Town and Country Club in St. Paul. Years ago a roadside bomb in Iraq blew away his legs and he lost two buddies in the explosion. Kriesel is a former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. In recent months Alan Page, Lou Nanne, P.J. Fleck and Patty Wetterling have spoken to club members. More information is available about the club by contacting Patrick Klinger, Patrick@thebrandenhancementgroup.com.

Dave and Linda Mona’s annual fundraiser assisting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is July 11 at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. The Wright Brothers, a favorite of Minnesota music fans, will perform in concert, and a silent auction includes items targeting sports fans. Learn more about the Camden’s Concert evening by calling 952-979-1111.

 

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers.

Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section.

A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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