Twins are loaded with late-round steals
Blackburn exemplifies what can be found late in the Draft
OAKLAND -- Nick Blackburn has become one of the Twins' most consistent starters this season, but he certainly wasn't high on anyone's radar when he was selected by Minnesota as the No. 857 overall pick in the 29th round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft.
The 111 players who were selected on Day 1 on Tuesday certainly will draw the most attention in this year's Draft. But, as Blackburn has shown, there are plenty of very talented Major League-caliber players who can be found in the later rounds -- including eight of Blackburn's Twins teammates.So, that will be the task at hand in front offices around the league on Wednesday -- finding the future stars who no doubt remain in this year's crop of potential draftees. After 30 rounds through Day 2, the Draft will conclude on Thursday with the 31st through 50th rounds, beginning at 10:30 a.m. CT. MLB.com's coverage will include a live pick-by-pick audio stream, expert commentary and the exclusive Draft Tracker, a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player, featuring statistics, scouting reports and video highlights. Fans will not only be able to follow along every minute of the way online, but they'll be able to interact directly with Draft-eligible players and MLB.com Draft experts, among others. The Draft Tracker will also feature the addition of Twitter, and the participation of "tweeters" such as MLB.com Draft expert @JonathanMayoB3, who will also be serving as on-air talent for all three days of the Draft; and reporter @LisaWinstonMLB, who will be writing the up-to-the-minute coverage for MLB.com. In addition, MLB.com has created a Twitter account devoted to the Draft, where you can stay updated on every piece of info as it becomes available (@MLBDraft). It took Blackburn six years after he was selected as a 29th-round pick to make the Majors. But it didn't take some of the other Twins nearly as long to get there. All-Star closer Joe Nathan, the 159th pick overall by the Giants in the 1995 Draft, was pitching for San Francisco just four years after he was selected. That even included a year break that Nathan took in '96 when he went back to school to get his degree while contemplating the Giants' decision to switch him from a shortstop to a pitcher. Infielders Joe Crede and Brendan Harris were both fifth-round selections. Crede was taken as the 137th pick in the 1996 Draft by the White Sox. The Chicago Cubs made Harris the 138th pick in the '01 Draft. Crede was in the Majors by 2000, while Harris sped through to make his debut in Chicago in '04. Matt Guerrier was taken with the 309th pick in the 1999 Draft by the White Sox, but he didn't make his Major League debut until 2004 after two trades had sent him to the Twins. Jason Kubel was a similar late pick, taken by Minnesota with the 342nd overall pick in the 2000 Draft, and made a big impact during the end of the '04 season in the midst of the Twins' playoff run. Left-hander Sean Henn was also selected in the 2000 Draft as the No. 788 pick in the 26th round by the Yankees. He made it to the Majors in '05. Nick Punto was selected by the Phillies in the 21st round of the '98 Draft with the 614th pick. He was in the Majors three years later. And another speedy Twins infielder, Matt Tolbert, was a 16th-round selection of the Twins, selected with the No. 481 pick in the 2004 Draft. Tolbert started the '08 season with Minnesota after making the team in Spring Training.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.