Twins benefit from draft lottery, move up to fifth pick
The Twins were the biggest beneficiary on Tuesday night when the lottery results were revealed, jumping from their projected spot — 13th overall — all the way to fifth.
SAN DIEGO — At the conclusion of the first Major League Baseball draft lottery, Twins vice president of amateur scouting Sean Johnson only had good things to say about the event.
“I’m extremely biased at this point,” Johnson said. “I’m all for it right now.”
That’s because Johnson and the Twins were the biggest beneficiary on Tuesday night when the lottery results were revealed, jumping from their projected spot — 13th overall — all the way to fifth. New this year as an anti-tanking measure, the 18 teams that miss the postseason were all eligible for the lottery, which determines the top-six picks in the next draft.
The Twins had a 0.9 percent chance to walk away with the first overall pick. When the spot they would have slotted into based on their record, 13th, came and went and the Twins hadn’t been announced, it became clear that they would jump into the top six.
“I was telling everyone all week that I had a weird feeling that we’re going to actually get into the top six, but I said that’s also the same feeling that’s led to massive casinos being built in Las Vegas,” Johnson said. “It was surreal. It was a lot of fun. Being in the back row with the other guys, we were like, ‘Maybe one of us will get up there somehow.’ We’ll take it.”
While the actual drawing took place earlier in the day, the Twins opted not to send a representative to the event, who would then have had to surrender their cell phone and be sequestered until the live television event, and Johnson learned of the team’s fate as the results were revealed on MLB Network’s show.
Moving from 13th to fifth increases the amount of bonus money available to sign their picks, and Johnson joked that he had to call team chief financial officer Kip Elliott to let him know that they’d have to up the money.
“The draft is the best and the easiest way to acquire talent, and the cheapest way, although it doesn’t feel like it in the front end,” Johnson said. “If we’re going to be a sustainable team for a long time, you have impact draft picks and get the ones right in the top 10.”
The Twins selected eighth overall last season, nabbing shortstop Brooks Lee. The top-five pick will represent their highest pick since they selected Royce Lewis first overall in the 2017 draft.
“Any time you can jump into the top 10 of a draft, you’re beyond excited to be able to have a chance to acquire an impact player,” Johnson said.
Fort Myers facility re-opening
President of baseball operations Derek Falvey said Hurricane Ian, which battered Southwest Florida in September, caused more damage to their facility in Fort Myers than they initially expected, but the Twins are still expecting to open up the complex to players in early January.
“After a while, we realized there was a little more damage than we thought beyond the batter’s eyes and fences that were knocked down,” Falvey said. “We had more water damage than we thought. It was a little more money to get it cleaned up. All things considered, though, we’re in a much better spot than could have been the case.”
Earlier in the week, the Tampa Bay Rays announced that they would have to move spring training out of their home, Charlotte Sports Park, in Port Charlotte, because of hurricane damage. Their location is about 50 miles north of the Twins’ home at Hammond Stadium.
Also on Tuesday, the Twins and Red Sox, who also host spring training in Fort Myers, announced a joint donation of $200,000 to five different nonprofits in Lee County to assist with relief efforts. The hurricane caused billions of dollars worth of damage to the area.
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