Twins pick pair of right-handers to end 1st

BY foxsports • June 4, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS — After taking outfielder Byron Buxton with the No. 2 overall selection in Major League Baseball draft, the Minnesota Twins made two more selections Monday — and they focused on pitching.

With the No. 32 overall pick — the team's first pick in the compensation round — Minnesota took Puerto Rican right-hander Jose Berrios out of Papa Juan XXIII High School. The 6-foot, 190-pound Berrios, 18, was the second high school player taken by the Twins on Monday. His fastball can touch 92-96 mph on the radar gun, according to Deron Johnson, the Twins' director of scouting.

Baseball America had him ranked as the No. 49 prospect in the draft. Johnson said Berrios also throws a curveball, slider and changeup along with his fastball.

"He's a really good athlete. He changes speeds well," Johnson said. "We think he's an advanced pitcher for a high school kid. He can elevate his fastball. The kid really has an idea of how to pitch."

Johnson said he saw Berrios throw a no-hitter with 14 strikeouts in an All-Star game in Puerto Rico against a team that included Carlos Correa, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft.

"The competition is very good," Johnson said of Puerto Rico. "There are going to be a lot of Puerto Ricans taken in the next couple days."

The Twins also held the No. 42 overall pick in the compensation round and took Luke Bard, a 21-year-old right-hander from Georgia Tech. Bard is the younger brother of Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard. Their father, Paul, played in the Orioles and Dodgers organizations but never appeared in the majors.

In 11 games for Georgia Tech this season, Bard was 1-0 with a 0.99 ERA in an injury-shortened season. Eight of his 11 appearances came in relief, including two saves. In 27 1/3 innings, he struck out 26 batters and walked six.

"We think he has a legitimate chance to start," Johnson said. "He's obviously a closer this year for Georgia Tech. We saw two of his starts. … He's got really good arm action. He's got a good delivery. We see no reason why he can't start."

Bard was originally taken by the Boston Red Sox in the 16th round of the 2009 draft but opted to play at Georgia Tech. He missed time this year due to a strained lat muscle. But the Twins don't consider the injury serious, and Johnson said Bard won't be pitching in the postseason for Georgia Tech but should be pitching again later this summer.

"We took a gamble, and we're happy with the pick," Johnson said.

The No. 32 and No. 42 picks were compensation for free agents Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel signing with Colorado and Arizona, respectively, this past offseason. Minnesota's next pick in the draft is Tuesday, as the Twins will have the third selection of the second round (No. 63 overall). Rounds 2-15 will begin at 11 a.m. CT on Tuesday.

Rochester Century right-hander Mitch Brown is still on the board, a possible target for the Twins on Day 2 of the draft. Johnson noted that there are still plenty of pitchers available in the upcoming rounds.

"I'm happy with what we got. We think we got some high-ceiling players," Johnson said. "… There's always pitching. You can get some velocity down there (in the later rounds). The cream of the crop goes on the first day."

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