Twins Select Minnesotan Matt Wallner with 39th Overall Pick
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY SportsAs was expected from a high school player taken in the 32nd round of the draft, Matt Wallner did not sign with the Minnesota Twins, and instead opted to go play college ball. Wallner was originally committed to go play for the University of North Dakota, but when they dropped their program during his senior year, Wallner switched his commitment to the University of Southern Mississippi.
Wallner was a standout player during his three seasons at Southern Miss. In his freshman season, Wallner dominated both at the plate and on the mound. With the bat, Wallner had a .336/.463/.655 slash line with 19 home runs and 63 RBIs in 66 games. On the mound Wallner made 9 appearances, throwing 14 and 2/3 innings with a 1.84 ERA and 15 strikeouts. Wallner thrived with his fastball that occasionally touched 97 mile per hour. For his efforts, Wallner was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Year.
Wallner’s sophomore year at the plate was just as good as his freshman campaign, where Wallner had a slash line of .351/.474/.618 with 16 home runs and 67 RBIs in 62 games. On the mound Wallner didn’t quite have the same success as he put up a 7.98 ERA over 14 and 2/3 innings, effectively ending his pitching career.
After giving up on pitching, and deciding to focus solely on hitting, Wallner saw an increase in his power production in his junior year. Again, Wallner had an incredible slash line of .323/.446/.681 while compiling 23 home runs (just 3 shy of 4th overall pick JJ Bleday for the most in Division 1 baseball), and another 60 RBIs in 61 games.
***Listen to Across the Meadow's breakdown of the Wallner pick.***
I had the opportunity to get a firsthand look a Matt Wallner this past weekend, as the Southern Miss Golden Eagles were the 3-seed in the Baton Rouge Regional. Wallner played well in his two games against Arizona State, homering in both games against them. However, he didn’t have much success against the much better LSU pitching staff.
In the field Wallner look quite fluid fielding fly balls. Wallner showed off his cannon of an arm on a couple throws, but one thing I noticed is it takes a little while for him to get the ball out of his hand. There was a couple of times I thought there might be a play at the base with Wallner’s arm, but the throws ended up being late after Wallner didn’t get the ball out of his hand quick enough. Overall, Wallner was quite the presence on the field, and I came away last weekend very impressed with him.
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