BEST TWINS PLAYER Minneapolis 2000 - Eric Milton
Oh, who are we kidding? Brad Radke stands out on this year's roster. But the Twins' ace is almost certain to be gone by the All-Star break, a casualty of a small-minded ownership and a small-market town. So we're going with 24-year-old southpaw Eric Milton, Radke's heir apparent. Milton, selected in the first round of the 1996 draft by the Yankees, came to the Twins in the Knoblauch Trade after spending only a year in the minors. His first year in the majors, 1998, wasn't terribly impressive (an 8-14 mark and an ERA of 5.64), and at first glance last year's stats don't look stunningly better (7-11, 4.49). But look a bit more closely: After the All-Star break, Milton was 4-3 with an ERA of 3.82, with 98 strikeouts and only 25 walks in just over 100 innings' work--including a September 11 no-hitter against the California Angels. In other words, he looks to all the world like a star in the making. The Twins, of course, don't care. With only two years' big-league experience, Milton has zero bargaining power in salary negotiations, and this year, after he scoffed at the team's one-year offer of $300,000, the guys in suits simply signed him for $285,000--that's right, they subtracted $15,000 from their original offer. Way to send the kid a message!