The Twins 2018 Draft Class is Loaded with Talent
Image courtesy of © John David Mercer-USA TODAY SportsNow that the Twins 2018 Draft Class has had a chance to play their first full season of professional baseball, we are starting to get a clearer picture of how the they are shaping up. While some of these players haven’t had a number of opportunities to show what they can do, the ones that have had the opportunity have really impressed. Let’s take a look at some of the more notable players from this class.
With their first-round pick, the Twins took soon to be national champion outfielder Trevor Larnach out of Oregon State University. After a strong professional debut in 2018, Larnach began the 2019 season in High-A Fort Myers. In 84 games with the Miracle, Larnach hit .316, with and .842 OPS, both of which were easily league highs among qualified hitters in the very pitcher-friendly Florida State League in 2019. This performance led to Larnach’s call up to AA Pensacola mid-season, where he continued to hit the ball well over the final couple months of the season. This helped Larnach secure the ranking as Twins Daily’s 3rd highest ranked prospect in the Twins farm system.
In the second round, the Twins turned some heads when they supposedly reached on UNC Wilmington catcher Ryan Jeffers. Jeffers was thought of by many scouts as a great hitting college catcher, who would have a tough time staying behind the plate as a professional. However, the Twins scouts thought differently, and have since been proven dead right. Not only has Jeffers mashed in his 698 career professional plate appearances, but he has also proven to be more than capable enough to hold his own as a catcher defensively, all of this leading to Jeffers being ranked the 7th best Twins prospect here at Twins Daily. Look for Jeffers to knock on the MLB door in the near future and give the Twins a dynamic duo behind the plate with Jeffers and Mitch Garver.
The first pitcher that the Twins took in this draft didn’t come until the fifth round, when they took Florida State right-hander Cole Sands. After not pitching professionally in 2018, Sand made his professional debut at Cedar Rapids in 2019, and quickly moved his way up to make one start at AA Pensacola before the end of the season. Among the 545 pitchers who threw at least 90 innings in affiliated minor league baseball in 2019, Cole Sands’ 2.45 FIP was the 5th lowest. This was due in large part to his tremendous 5.68 strikeout to walk ratio. This is a number that even the great Johan Santana couldn’t top during his time with the Twins. I expect great things from Sands again in 2020, which could vault him way up the Twins prospect ranking leader board by seasons end.
The second pitcher that the Twins took in the 2018 MLB draft was Josh Winder out of the Virginia Military Institute. After a solid pro debut in Elizabethton in 2018, Winder was one of the best pitchers in the Midwest League in 2019. In 21 starts for the Cedar Rapids Kernels, Winder tossed 125 2/3 innings to the tune of a 2.65 ERA, which was the fourth lowest mark among Midwest League pitchers with at least 100 innings pitching in 2019. In 164 1/3 combined professional innings, Winder has struck out 160 batters, while allowing just 36 walks and 11 home runs.
Taken as a college senior in the eighth round of the 2018 MLB draft, Clemson 1B/C Chris Williams signed with the Twins for just $10,000, which was well below the $162,100 slot value for that pick. However, Williams hasn’t played like just some random-pick-to save-money, as he quickly established himself as a legit power threat at the professional level, belting 26 home runs in just 545 pro plate appearances. While Williams didn’t spend anytime behind the plate in 2018, he almost exclusively caught in 2019. If he can stay behind the plate, he has potential to make a splash, with his rare power behind the plate.
Willie Joe Garry Jr.
It has been a bit of a slow start from a production standpoint for the Twins ninth-round pick in the 2018 MLB draft, but Willie Joe Garry Jr. did show signs of improvement in 2019, and with his raw athletic ability the ceiling is very high for this young high school prospect out of Mississippi. Seth Stohs did a great piece on Willie Joe Garry Jr. earlier this week, if you want to learn more about this young Twins prospect.
Other Notable Prospects
- 15th-round pick Kody Funderburk struck out 9.9 batter per nine innings and had a 3.25 FIP in 50 innings pitched for Cedar Rapids in 2019.
- 17th-round pick Erik Cha has a 2.21 ERA, with 65 strikeouts and 21 walks in 61 innings pitched out of the bullpen, pitching mostly for the GCL Twins and in Elizabethton.
- 18th-round pick Andrew Cabezas has made 31 starts in his two seasons of pro ball, accumulating a 3.31 ERA in 160 1/3 innings pitched.
- 19th-round pick Austin Schulfer has made 41 appearances (20 starts) in his two seasons at the professional level. In that time, Schulfer has posted a 3.27 ERA and has struck out an impressive 158 batters in 137 2/3 innings pitched.
- 21st-round pick Gabe Snyder blasted 19 home runs for Cedar Rapids in 2019. That was good for second most among all Mid-West league hitters last season.
- 31st-round pick Zach Neff pitched 39 innings for Cedar Rapids in 2019, before getting called up to Fort Myers, where he threw another 33 2/3 innings. Neff’s 2.11 FIP for Cedar Rapids was the fifth lowest among the 251 Midwest league pitchers who threw at least 30 innings pitched last season, while his 2.27 FIP for Fort Myers was the 17th lowest among the 178 Florida State League pitchers who threw at least 30 innings in 2019.
As you can see, there are a number of good prospects in the Twins farm system that came from that 2018 Draft Class, even though the Twins weren’t blessed with a number of high-end selections. This upcoming season will be a great year to follow these guys, as they are now mostly settled into the professional ranks and are looking to move their way up the Twins minor league system.
MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
— Follow Andrew Thares on Twitter
- wavedog, Monkeypaws, Otwins and 7 others like this