SAN DIEGO — With the conclusion of Major League Baseball’s first draft lottery, Twins vice president of scouting Sean Johnson had only 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 Tuesday night when the lottery results were revealed, jumping from their projected spot — 13th overall — to fifth. New this year as an anti-tank measure, the 18 teams that miss the postseason were all eligible for the lottery, which determines the first six picks in the next draft.
The Twins had a 0.9% chance of going with the first overall pick. When where they would have ranked based on their record, 13th, came and went and the Twins hadn’t been announced, it became clear they would go in the top six.
“I’ve been telling everybody all week that we had a weird feeling that we were actually going to be in the top six, but I said it’s the same feeling that led to the building of massive casinos in Las Vegas,” Johnson said. “It was surreal. It was very 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 have then had to hand over his cell phone and have it impounded until the live televised event, and Johnson learned of the team’s fate as the results were revealed on the MLB Network broadcast.
The move from 13th to fifth increases the amount of bonus money available to their signing picks, and Johnson joked that he had to call team CFO Kip Elliott to let him know they should increase the money.
“The draft is the best and easiest way to acquire talent and the cheapest way, even though it doesn’t feel like the front,” Johnson said. “If we’re going to be a sustainable team for a long time, you’ve got impact picks in the draft and you’ve got those right in the top 10.”
The Twins selected shortstop Brooks Lee eighth overall last season. The first five picks will represent the highest pick since they selected Royce Lewis first overall in the 2017 draft.
“Anytime you can jump into the top 10 of a draft, you’re more than excited to have a chance to acquire an impact player,” Johnson said.
The Fort Myers facility is reopening
President of baseball operations Derek Falvey said Hurricane Ian, which hit Southwest Florida in September, caused more damage to their Fort Myers facility than originally expected, but the Twins still expect to open the facility to players at the beginning of January.
“After a while, we realized there was a little more damage than we thought beyond the batter’s eyes and the fences that were knocked down,” Falvey said. “We had more water damage than we thought. It was a bit more money to clean it up. All things considered, though, we’re in a much better place than we could have been.”
Earlier in the week, the Tampa Bay Rays announced they would have to move spring training from their home, Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, due to hurricane damage. Their location is about 50 miles north of the Twins’ home at Hammond Stadium.
Also Tuesday, the Twins and Red Sox, who also host spring training in Fort Myers, announced a joint donation of $200,000 to five different Lee County nonprofits to support relief efforts. The hurricane caused billions of dollars worth of damage to the area.