Twins Daily 2021 Top Prospects: #4 C Ryan Jeffers
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (graphics by Brock Beauchamp)Position: C
Age: 23 (DOB: 6-3-1997)
2020 Stats (MLB): 62 PA, .273/.355/.436, 3 HR, 7 RBI
2020 Ranking: 5
2019 Ranking: 13
National Top 100 Rankings
BA: 60 |MLB: NR | ATH: NR |BP: NR
What’s To Like
Defense is the name of the game for any prospect that plays an up-the-middle defensive position and Jeffers showed his tremendous defensive value last season. He only caught 162 big-league innings, but he ranked seventh in baseball when it comes to strike rate, which puts him into elite company.
According to Baseball Savant, he ranked in the 90th percentile when it came to framing pitches last year. Twins pitchers must love pitching to him, because his smooth receiving skills gain extra strikes for pitchers and help them to get into favorable counts. For two straight offseasons, MLB.com has named Jeffers as the organizations best defensive prospect.
Offensively, Jeffers combines plate discipline and a powerful swing that has improved over the last three seasons. Throughout the minors, he posted a 18.5% strikeout rate, but that number jumped to over 30% in his initial big-league run last year. Historically, his walk rate was 10.2% in the minors and he posted a 8.1 BB% in 2020. Expect both of those numbers to improve in 2021 as he gets more experience seeing MLB pitching.
Jeffers just missed Baseball Prospectus’ Top-101 list as he was the second to last player removed. ESPN thinks highly of Jeffers as Kiley McDaniel has him ranked higher than any other national ranking (57th). FanGraphs also has Jeffers in their top-60 prospects as they said, “A physical beast with a power over hit offensive profile, Jeffers has the talent to be an everyday catcher but needs to improve his ability to control the running game.”
What’s Left To Work On
His defense has improved so much throughout his professional career, but there are other areas he can improve. Like FanGraphs wrote, his arm might not be as strong as a team would like from their everyday catcher. Jeffers has continued to work on quickening his release and that continues to help him improve his caught stealing percentage.
Last year, base runners were successful in 14 of 16 potential chances, which put Jeffers at 13% below the league average in CS%. Another thing to consider is that MLB might be moving toward electronic strike zones and that could also negatively impact his long-term value.
If his defensive value changes, Jeffers needs to continue to produce at the plate. His hit tool is average, which is why last year’s offensive numbers were a pleasant surprise. Some scouting reports have his breaking ball recognition and plate coverage as slightly below average. He posted a .364 BABIP last season and many projections have that total regressing in 2021. Jeffers is going to have to prove that 2020 wasn’t a fluke and that he can continue to make adjustments at baseball’s highest level.
Jeffers is projected to split catching duties with Mitch Garver throughout the 2021 season. Rocco Baldelli loves to rotate his catchers on a regular basis, so Jeffers should be getting 3-4 starts per week. He will be playing at the big-league level from season’s start, so it will be intriguing to watch his chances at bringing home AL Rookie of the Year honors. He’d need to put up some impressive offensive totals and teammate Alex Kirilloff might have something to say about the award before things are said and done.
Does Jeffers have a shot of AL Rookie of the Year honors? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
Twins Daily 2021 Top 20 Prospects
20. Bailey Ober, RHP
19. Jose Miranda, INF
18. Alerick Soularie, OF
17. Ben Rortvedt, C
16. Edwar Colina, RHP
15. Cole Sands, RHP
14. Misael Urbina, OF
13. Matt Wallner, OF
12. Brent Rooker, OF/1B
11. Gilberto Celestino, OF
10. Blayne Enlow, RHP
9. Matt Canterino, RHP
8. Aaron Sabato, 1B
7. Keoni Cavaco, SS
6. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
5. Jhoan Duran, RHP
4. Ryan Jeffers, C
Stop by tomorrow for prospect #3!
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