Larnach Focused on Process, Improvements and Winning
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins DailyBefore we look forward, let’s quickly look back. Larnach was the Twins first-round draft pick in 2018, the 20th player selected overall. He then went to Omaha and helped lead the Oregon State Beavers to the College World Series championship. After signing, he split that season between Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids.
In 2019, he was the Twins (and Twins Daily’s) Minor League Player/Hitter of the Year. He was the Florida State League Most Valuable Player after hitting .316/.382/.459 (.842) with 26 doubles and six homers in 84 games, impressive numbers in the notoriously pitcher-friendly Florida State League. He moved up to Double-A Pensacola for 43 late-season games. He hit .295/.387/.455 (.842) with four doubles and seven homers.
He moved up many national prospect rankings, but The Athletic’s Keith Law wrote this about him in his February 2020 Twins rankings. “Larnach has plus power the other way, which is usually a very positive indicator for a hitter, but he doesn’t pull the ball except to roll over to the second baseman, so scouts are left wondering if he can adjust as pitchers work him on the inner half.”
When I talked to Larnach in December of 2019 for his Minor League Hitter of the Year article in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook, it was something that Larnach focused on that offseason. He said, “It’s not only being able to drive the ball from left field to center field, but to be able to hit it out of the park from center to right field. It’s something that’s been in development, and I'm feeling really good about now. It didn’t necessarily come within a couple of swings, but it’s taken four years and continues to be put to the test.”
Hitting is Larnach’s calling card. On a recent Twins Spotlight, fellow top prospect Royce Lewis said, “I know a hitter that would be a great hitting coach is Trevor Larnach. He knows how to dissect a baseball swing and really go into it, and he really knows how to talk to you about your swing and dive deeply into it.”
Overall, his work paid off. He was invited to big-league spring training as a Non-Roster Invite in 2020 and made a great impression. While he was limited to DHing due to some shoulder tightness, he mashed the ball in his opportunities. In 24 at-bats, Larnach hit .333/.467/.708 (1.175) and three home runs.
He had the opportunity to work with Twins Hall of Famer and former MVP Justin Morneau, something he gained a lot from. “He helped me out a lot in a lot of ways, whether it came down to drills, approach, scouting reports. Everything that you could possibly think of, he helped me out. It was so cool, because a guy like that, he’s willing to help guys and continuously talk hitting. It was super awesome, and I can’t thank him enough for that.”
Unfortunately, Spring Training 2020 was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “When spring training stopped, it was a bit of a shock because you didn’t really understand what was happening. We went from playing, and not having a relationship with the fans at one point, to completely just packing up and going home.”
A delayed season. Then the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season. Fortunately for Larnach, he was invited to participate with the Twins at their alternate site in St. Paul late in the year. It was certainly a different experience, filled with challenges, but he took advantage of the opportunity.
“That was tough, you only had a limited amount of pitches. You only had a limited number of at-bats each week. But at the same time, you’re competing and still trying to develop at the same time but also try to stay locked in for any type of game scenario. The staff did the best they could in the circumstances that they had, so it was good.”
Regarding his work on hitting the ball with authority to the pull-side of the field, Larnach said that he was seeing those results.
“When I was at St. Paul, the majority of my home runs were pull side. So I thought I did a pretty good job before last season. During spring training I think that kind of showed me, because I was able to get that pitch out more consistently with the right spin, along with more pitches middle-in, away. So it helped out a lot. To have little at-bats and see that kind of development over at the alternate site was pretty exciting for me.”
Larnach was not called up to the Twins during the season, but the organization is very high on him. He returned to Ft. Myers last week as a non-roster invite again. However, this time, he’s looking to do more than just make a good impression.
Spring Training games begin on Sunday afternoon when the Twins host the Red Sox at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers. Like many games early on the spring schedule, it will be a seven-inning game.
Larnach, who turned 24 on Friday, should expect to get a lot of at-bats throughout the spring schedule. While it is unlikely that he will make the Twins Opening Day roster, it is very likely that Larnach will make his major-league debut sometime during the 2021 season. So his mindset for spring is to prepare himself for the season and for the big leagues, whenever that time comes.
“I’d say first off, the goal is always to make it up there, and always compete and win, and help the team win championships. But as of right now, I’m more or less focused on my process and getting ready for any type of season that’s thrown at me. So getting ready for major league pitching I’m about to be seeing, which would be great, and learn from the guys in this camp, all the older guys, all the vets. So that’s my mindset right now.”
He learned a lot from his first big-league spring training a year ago. This spring, he is much more comfortable in the clubhouse, with the veterans, and the atmosphere. Being able to focus on what he needs to do to prepare is the key to his spring, in part, because the Twins have a lot of options in the corner outfield positions. There is a bit of a talent-filled log jam, and that isn’t a bad thing.
“It’s out of my control. The only thing I can do is really get my work in, do the best thing I can, be the best human I can. At the end of the day, if you don’t make the team, or if you do, all that matters is that when you’re up there, it’s how you affect the team, how you produce, how you are as a teammate. Because the whole goal is just to win, to win championships. I know what I bring to the table, I know what a lot of other guys bring to the table. All the other outfielders are great guys and great players. And yeah, it’s a logjam, but it also makes it fun because you compete with each other, but you also play with each other. It’s a good thing.”
Last summer, Larnach worked mostly in the corner outfield spots. He also got to spend a little bit of time at first base. This spring, he will be working exclusively in the outfield according to manager Rocco Baldelli. “Trevor’s going to play on the corners in the outfield. We’re not going to move him around to first base. Going forward, you never know, but right now, we’re going to let him get his work in the outfield.”
On Saturday, Larnach talked about how he is working to improve this season. “I’m always trying to improve, every way that I can. I’m always looking for something I can do, whether it’s defensively, offensively, as a teammate, anything to help improve and help the chemistry in the team.”
Larnach has a focus on all aspects of the game, but as you can see from several of his responses above, he always does so with the idea of winning, and winning championships in mind. It’s something that was instilled within him at Oregon State. In the Prospect Handbook article, Larnach said, “What they instill 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 practice or in a game. You’re always working to get better, but you’re working to reach a goal with your teammates because you’re built such an awesome bond. I was fortunate to learn that from them, and to experience that.”
One of his teammates at Oregon State was Nick Madrigal. He was the fourth overall pick in that 2018 draft by the Chicago White Sox. In 2020, he made his major-league debut and hit .340/.376/.369 (.745) with three doubles in 29 games.
While White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson continues to speak very publicly about Chicago’s athleticism, and calling them the best team in the American League, Larnach and Madrigal have started a little trash talk amongst themselves. It sounds pretty harmless.
“I’m pretty close with Nick. It’s hard not to be close with a guy like that, and a teammate like that, when you’ve won a championship in college. We’re constantly talking trash to each other. We’re always in touch here and there. He’s a great dude. He’s a great competitor. I wish he was on our team because I know what he can do, but as far as us playing each other, it’s an exciting thing. I keep telling him ‘I’m coming, I’m coming for you.’ It’s going to be fun when that matchup comes. I can’t wait to see how it all pans out.”
Neither can Twins fans.
While Alex Kirilloff will, and understandably so, receive many of the headlines this spring, Twins fans should also be very excited about the future of Trevor Larnach. He too has a chance to be a very special player.
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