Trevor Larnach Homers in First MLB Spring At-Bat
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins DailyFast-forward to the bottom of the seventh inning. Larnach came to bat second in the inning. Nelson Cruz made out to lead off the inning. Larnach stepped to the plate against hard-throwing right-hander Tanner Rainey.
The 26-year-old right-hander made his major-league debut last year for the Reds. Larnach worked the at-bat. He watched a 96-mph fastball. He fouled-off a 98 mph heater. With the count full, he got another fastball, and he didn’t miss it.
Larnach barreled up the ball and hit an opposite field blast that landed in the netting in left centerfield. The ball bounced back into the field of play.
Larnach rounded the bases with a home run in his first at-bat of major league spring training.
And I called it. No, really, I did. Ask the guy sitting next to me!
One year ago, Larnach was beginning his junior season at Oregon State. By season’s end, he had made himself into a clear first-round pick. He led the Beavers to the 2018 College World Series championship.
I was fortunate to catch up with Larnach at Twins Fest and he talked about the culture of baseball at Oregon State.
“What they instill over there is a lot of culture stuff with teammates and building bonds and caring about your team more than yourself. When you have that kind of culture set at a certain standard, regardless if you’re at a practice or in a game, you’re always working to get better, but you’re working to reach a goal with your teammate because you’ve built such an awesome bond. I was fortunate to learn that from them and to experience that, and now I can bring that in here and kind of maybe instill that kind of a culture with an organization.”
Larnach had been drafted in the 40th round of the 2015 draft out of high school in California but decided college was the right route for him. It was a good choice.
“It was tempting. I was hurt at the time. I had an arm problem. I think in high school for my bat, obviously. They were just wondering what was happening with my arm. I figured if I was hitting pretty well and had an arm injury and they were still interested in the 3rd or 4th round or so, I just thought that in my case college would be a lot better because you get to knock some school out, experience one of the best parts of your life over there, and experience the culture talk that I just mentioned. There was some interest, but I was college all the way.”
In a second at-bat, Larnach grounded out to second base off of JJ Hoover.
On Thursday morning, the Twins optioned RHP Zack Littell to AAA Rochester. As I noted on Twitter on Wednesday, he pitched one inning for the "Cedar Rapids" team on the back fields that day. It was a quick inning, and he told me Thursday morning that it was just 13 pitches. He had only pitched in one inning in spring training due to some shoulder inflammation, but said that he is now good to go and ready to get stretched out at minor league camp.
Wander Javier played the entire game for the Twins. He batted ninth and played shortstop. He went 0-for-2 with two walks. He made most of the plays, with one throwing error late in the game.
He has previously played in the late innings of four other games in spring training, but playing the full game today was more meaningfu. Rocco Baldelli came away impressed.
"He’s a talented guy. To see a young player with the combination of skills that can get you excited. An athletic guy with some strength, that can swing the bat and also play in the middle of the field. That’s the type of combination that can result in a really impactful major-league player. And that’s what he is."
Baldelli was asked what he wants to see when these minor leaguers come over and get the experience in a big-league spring training game.
Baldelli noted, "What I'm looking for is for them to come in and take advantage of the experience and to take as much as they can from it and to learn as much as they can from it. Watch as much as they can. That's more important than anything." He continued, "Yeah, it's good for me to personally lay eyes on them and for the staff to see them on the field, but it's what they're taking out of it that's most important thing. They're all taking advantage of these ABs and these innings and these opportunities and they're doing a really nice job.
Another guy who took advantage of his opportunity on Thursday was Jacob Pearson. He came to the Twins last offseason in a trade with the Angels for international slot money that was used to sign Shohei Ohtani. He began 2018 in extended spring training, but he was called up on Memorial Day weekend to the Cedar Rapids Kernels and spent the rest of the season in the Midwest League.
Pearson has played in a few spring games already. In the Twins "other" split-squad game today, the Twins beat the Orioles 7-6 in Sarasota, and it was Jacob Pearson who got the game-winning hit.
Pearson said after the game, "I'm basically a kid when I get the text or call that I get to go over to the big league side, super excited." He continued, "I’m ready to go in wherever or whenever the need me. Today was a back and forth game, and I knew i would get an opportunity to hit so I was just going to try to put my best swing on a good pitch. It all happened so quick I didn’t even realize I had a smile on my face."
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