In draft position with plenty of players, Twins will have a quick decision to make at No. 8 – Twin Cities

The Twins will pick eighth in Sunday night’s entry draft, their highest spot since drafting No. 1 Royce Lewis overall in 2017, and while they’re confident they’ll get a good player, they don’t have a good idea who it will be.

“It’s definitely shaping up to be one of those years where we’re going to find out minutes before we pick,” Twins director of scouting Sean Johnson said Thursday.

Once the Chicago Cubs use their seventh pick, the Twins will have three minutes to decide.

“I think we’re going to be doing a lot of scenario planning, doing simulations on, ‘If this player is successful, how do we feel?’ Johnson told reporters before the Twins opened a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox at Target Field.

The three-day, 20-round draft is heavy on position players — or light on throwing, Johnson said. “The pitching just isn’t there on the surface,” he said. “There are a lot of incomplete resumes.”

That’s because top prospects — such as high school right-hander Dylan Lesko and Cade Horton — are recovering from surgeries. So while the Twins might have a chance to take the top pitcher in the draft, they seem more likely to take a position player such as LSU first baseman Jacob Berry, college junior third baseman Cam Collier or Georgia Tech wide receiver Kevin Parada.

“It’s a bit of a blur after the two or three names (and) there’s not a lot of confirmation as to who’s going to leave the board when you’re talking to other teams and taking the pulse,” said Johnson said. “It’s been a bit tougher year than most, especially if you go for eighth place. You feel like there’s a pretty solid roster and you’ll get one of those players.

FOCUSED SOX

The White Sox won American League Central away from home last season, 13 games ahead of second-placed Cleveland and 20 games over last-placed Minnesota. But they haven’t held a first-place finish since April 11 and entered this series in third place, five games behind the first-place Twins.

So it’s a big streak for Chicago, who manager Tony La Russa says has refocused ahead of a July 1-3 streak against the Giants in San Francisco with next week’s All-Star break on the horizon. . Since then, the White Sox are 8-6.

“They know we’re in a position where we can’t afford to back down,” La Russa said ahead of Thursday night’s game.

“Starting with this series in San Francisco, everyone committed to ‘Let’s take our best shot and see what our record is on Sunday,'” La Russa said. “From what I’ve seen…you’re going to see our best shot.”

JIM KAAT DAY

The Twins will retire Jim Kaat’s jersey number in a ceremony before Saturday’s 1:10 p.m. first pitch against the White Sox.

Kaat’s number 36, which he wore for 13 seasons (1961-73) in Minnesota, will be the Twins’ ninth retired number and 10th overall, including the league-wide retirement of number 42 from Jackie Robinson.

Kaat and former Twins teammate Tony Oliva will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY on July 24.

BRIEFLY

Right-handed pitcher Ben Heller signed with the Twins on Thursday and was assigned to Triple-A St. Paul. Heller, 30, who fractured his elbow during spring training with the Diamondbacks in 2021, kicked off four seasons with the New York Yankees, going 2-0 with a 2.59 ERA. He struck out 30 and walked 15 in 31⅓ innings pitched and has a career 1,340 WHIP.

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