[Note: This is the introduction piece to what should be a weekly update following these four players first minor league season]
Minneapolis, MN – The applause heard throughout the executive offices at Paul Bunyan Stadium was deafening. Lower level team employees were trying to figure out what was causing all the commotion. Why was the office exploding in happiness on a random day in May?
“We got Danny Berry,” An excited analytics department intern told nobody in particular. “League office just confirmed it, it’s official!”
As expected, the deal was now flashing across the bottom of every TV in the office. “Breaking News: Millers acquire Bats Berry for 4 player package.”
The Millers had agreed to send two of their best prospects, Wilbert Singleton and Alex Dugar, along with their own second baseman Pancho Martinez, AND the team’s first round pick, #13 overall in June’s draft for Bats superstar Danny Berry.
Scouts who had been dispatched to watch potential first round draft picks, who were now completely wasting their time scouting some of these players, were even happy. When you acquire a player of Berry’s caliber and age, it’s hard to be upset.
With 2nd and 3rd round picks still, however, the scouts knew they had to continue filing their reports and working as hard as ever, hoping a potential first round value would fall now to the second round. So for a month straight, that’s what the Millers scouting department did.
On June 10, the day of the draft, the Millers had another blockbuster to announce. They were sending three players, cash, and their 2nd and 3rd round picks for center field prospect Neritan Murati. This deal was another one that the organization was thrilled to make, but again, the scouting department’s hard work had been deemed mostly worthless now.
Millers assistant GM Tony LeCount gathered the staff together, and they began pouring over several scouting reports.
“I know this kind of threw a loop through our draft strategy,” LeCount told the scouts. “But just know all your hard work led to these deals. And trust me, we’re going to use your hard work to find a gem or two in the later rounds.”
And with that, LeCount turned everyone’s attention to the large screen on the wall where the teams current draft board lit up the room. Mike Elias, the Millers scouting director, stood up.
“Gentlemen, there’s two players who we want to target that we think should be available when we finally get on the board,” Elias smiled. “They’re defensive standouts, but we’ll need to develop their bats to make them CBL regulars. But the defensive upside is immense.”
Catcher Derek Shipes and Shortstop Brendon Campbell were the two players Elias was talking about. Shipes drew rave reviews for his ability to call a game, and many scouts say he compares to current Millers catcher Carel Ketteringham.
Campbell on the other hand was said to have the best range at shortstop of anyone in the draft, and at just 17 years old he has plenty of time to develop his other skills. He possesses just an average arm, however, and at this point projects as maybe a AA-type hitter at his best, so development will be key.
“We expect these guys to both be around after round 5,” Millers Assistant GM Tony LeCount jumped back in. “Do any of our cross checkers have a reason we shouldn’t be looking at either player?”
Nope, no reason, the scouts agreed. Everyone poured over their notes one last time, as the draft neared. The Millers would have to wait out 59 picks before their first pick. Time seemed to go by slower than usual as the executives sat around, patiently waiting for their first pick. When it finally arrived, Shipes and Campbell were both still available as expected.
“We’re taking Elton Terp here,” Elias told the room. “That big frame and solid speed should help him develop into a solid big leaguer if we do it right.”
A long-time scout piped in briefly, suggesting the team select 2B Oscar Riedy instead. He’d been scouting him for months and felt his upside at the plate was worth the risk of his low positional value defensively. Terp was the choice though.
And with that, the Millers fourth round pick was official. 6’3, 186 pound 17 year old outfielder Elton Terp was the Millers first draft pick.
As the teams fifth round pick approached, Riedy was still available. LeCount said they were going to take Riedy if he was still around, and sure enough he was. The team knew they were going to need to sweat out the next two rounds, however, as they felt Shipes and Campbell were likely to go in this range too.
But things fell into place perfectly over the next hour. Shipes was still available in round 6, and the Millers pounced. And with Campbell still on the board in round 7, he was the pick. The draft room was ecstatic. They’d turned their first 3 picks of the draft (and other prospects) into two impact players for this season, and then they managed to get some intriguing young prospects in the draft with lower picks.
The team’s development plan was falling in to place, as well. Their first four picks would all start in Rookie League, in Georgetown Texas. The team provides housing for their minor league players, and the Millers decided all four of these kids would live together. We’ll be tracking their minor league debuts, their off-field antics, and just the general feeling of developing as a minor league player. For these kids, the future is unknown, but that’s what makes it so exciting.