MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – The Minnesota Twins have developed a formula over recent seasons in the first-round of the draft, preferring college pitchers or high school position players over the last 10 years or so.
Then they went out and deviated from that formula on Monday night.
The Twins selected North Carolina shortstop Levi Michael in the first round of the 2011 draft, making him the first college position player they’ve taken in the first round since first baseman Travis Lee in 1996.
“We changed some things up,” Twins scouting director Deron Johnson said. “People think we take high school athletes and college pitchers. We kind of changes things up. Kept people guessing this year, I would guess.”
The 20-year-old switch-hitter was taken with the 30th overall pick. He hit .309 with 27 homers and 159 RBIs in three seasons with the Tar Heels.
“He’s not just some punch-and-Judy hitter,” Johnson said. “He can drive a ball.”
While he may not be the prototypical Twins first-round draft pick, Michael certainly appears to fit the Twins mold in a big area — versatility. Michael played second base as a freshman, third base as a sophomore and shortstop as a junior for the Tar Heels, who are headed to the NCAA tournament Super Regional this weekend.
“I feel most comfortable somewhere up the middle, whether it be second base or shortstop,” Michael said. “I feel comfortable with both of those positions. But wherever fits for the organization. I’m just looking forward to playing.”
Michael’s numbers have dipped a little bit this — .297, five homers, 48 RBIs in 60 games — because of injuries to his hip flexor and ankle. But Johnson said the Twins were impressed that Michael didn’t miss a start despite those injuries.
The Twins also had two compensatory picks after losing second baseman Orlando Hudson and right-hander Jesse Crain in free agency.
They took Travis Harrison, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound third baseman from Tustin High School in California with the 55th overall pick. Harrison also can play outfield and hit .486 with 13 home runs as a senior.
Harrison was one of the top power hitters in the nation last season. He said the longest measured ball he hit was 504 feet at Tropicana Field for a power hitting showcase.
He has committed to play in college at Southern Cal, but said he will let things play out to see if he signs with the Twins or goes to college.
“Not sure yet,” Harrison said. “I’m committed to USC. If we come to an agreement, I’d be stoked to play for the Twins.”
Johnson said Harrison projects as a left fielder or third baseman and middle-of-the-order type hitter in the big leagues.
With the 55th pick, the Twins took big right-hander Hudson Boyd out of Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers, Fla. Boyd is 6-2 and 235 pounds. If he decides to eschew a commitment to play at Florida and sticks with the Twins, he won’t have to go far to start his career.
The Twins spring training home is in Fort Myers, as is their Class-A affiliate the Fort Myers Miracle.
Boyd transferred to Bishop Verot his senior year, but started his prep career at South Fort Myers, which is literally across the street from the Twins’ headquarters. Boyd said he used to sneak in to minor league games in the spring and catch a glimpse of the players he could now be joining.
“They were always in the backyard,” Boyd said. “Me and my buds would sneak in and go to the minor league spring training games because we didn’t have to pay for those tickets.”
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