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Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospects: #8 SS Keoni Cavaco

Today, we continue our Top 20 prospect rankings series with a look at our choice as the Twins #8 prospect. If prospect rankings were based solely on tools and ceiling, Keoni Cavaco would likely rank much higher on this list.
Image courtesy of Steve Buhr (graphics by Brock Beauchamp)
Age: 18 (DOB: 6-2-2001)
2019 Stats (GCL): 92 PA, .172/.217/.253, 4-2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI
ETA: 2025
2019 Ranking: NR

National Top 100 Rankings
BA: NR |MLB: NR | ATH: NR |BP: NR


What’s To Like
There’s no hiding the reality that the Twins have had a history of drafting, signing and developing many toolsy, talented high school athletes with early-round picks. Torii Hunter. Michael Cuddyer. Joe Mauer, Denard Span. Ben Revere. Joe Benson. Byron Buxton and Royce Lewis in recent years. When it comes to tools and athleticism, Keoni Cavaco can match up with any of these players.

Cavaco was drafted from Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, California. The school has several players go Division I every year as well as get drafted. Cavaco only played infield his final two years of high school and wasn’t a known commodity on the national scene until after the summer of his junior year. Like several others from his school, he was committed to San Diego State.

Cavaco has a very strong, athletic build. He’s already 6-2 and hovers around 200 pounds. He’s got quick hands and has the potential to hit a lot of home runs, in time. He also has speed that can match up with most anyone in the organization. In fact, he was clocked at 3.9 seconds to first base from the right-hand batters box.

Right now, his defense is ahead of his offense. The Twins had him play shortstop through the short-season following the draft, but he had spent most of his high school career playing third base. His team’s shortstop was hurt during the season so Cavaco had an opportunity to show scouts that he could play the position as well. Reports from Ft. Myers indicate that he’s got great footwork, soft hands, good range and a strong arm.


What’s Left To Work On
When Cavaco came to Target Field to sign his contract, FSN’s Marney Gellner interviewed him on the TV broadcast. He said that he wanted to be in the major leagues in “four years or less.” Well, Twins fans, and Cavaco himself, will need to have more patience than that. The tools are all there, but many of them are quite raw.



First and foremost, Cavaco’s “hit” tool is going to take some time. It’s all there. He’s got the size and strength. He’s got the quick hands. He’s got good vision. In his professional debut, he missed some time with some minor injuries which kept him from getting into a groove. He also had a lot of swing-and-miss, striking out in 35 of his 92 plate appearances (38%) while walking just four times.

And as you would expect from any player that is just 18 years old, he’s got a lot of work to do across the board. His swing is just one of those things. He’s got work to do in terms of base running, and defense, and control of the strike zone. He’s also learning how to work properly in the gym, and before games, and dietary, and more.




What’s Next
After just 25 games and his struggles in the GCL following the draft, expect that Cavaco will spend the first half of the season in Ft. Myers at extended spring training continuing to work on his all-around game.

At that point, it will be interesting to see if Cavaco is pushed up to Elizabethton (likely) or starts the short season in the GCL again. It’s also possible, if he picks things up quickly, he could spend some time in the second half of the season with the Cedar Rapids Kernels.


Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects
Honorable Mentions
20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B
19. Cole Sands, RHP
18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF
17. Misael Urbina, OF
16. Edwar Colina, RP
15. Matt Canterino, RHP
14. Matt Wallner, OF
13. Wander Javier, SS
12. Gilberto Celestino, OF
11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
10. Blayne Enlow, RHP
9. Brent Rooker, OF
8. Keoni Cavaco, SS
Stop by tomorrow for prospect #7!

---------------------------------------------------------

Get to know more about Keoni Cavaco and about another 170 minor league players (and two Dodgers prospects too - Graterol and Raley) in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook.

ORDER NOW: 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $17.99)

ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $12.99)

The 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on about 170 Twins minor leaguers.


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37 Comments

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howieramone2
Feb 10 2020 03:45 AM
For one comparison, look how Mike Trout performed immediately after he was drafted.

 

For one comparison, look how Mike Trout performed immediately after he was drafted.

Trout was drafted in 2009. As a 17 year old in 2009, Trout hit .352/.419/.486 in 207 PAs across 2 leagues.

 

For the record, in Trout's 2nd year, as an 18 year old, he hit .321/.428/.480 in 600 PAs, also across two leagues.

 

By the end of 2011, he was in the big leagues to stay.

 

The comparison is not off to a good start.

 

 

    • Mike Sixel, gunnarthor, Dantes929 and 10 others like this

For one comparison, look how Mike Trout performed immediately after he was drafted.


As much as I like Keoni, I don’t think a comparison between him and a guy who in my opinion is probably the next unanimous first ballot HOFer is an accurate one
    • Minny505 likes this

Don't know what to think about Cavaco, Seth.

 

It is correct that the Twins took him higher than a lot of people thought at draft time, isn't it?And I don't recall any first pick of ours doing this poorly in his first exposure to professional ball.I understand everything you have written about his tools.But having the tools doesn't always mean a young player will be a success.

 

There may be lots of circumstances related to his poor performance.But it was so bad it was more than disappointing, at least to me.So for me, ranking him #8 is too high, way too high. But he is a young Twin, so I remain hopeful he becomes the type of player the Twins drafted and proves me wrong.

    • alphanumeric, mikelink45, tarheeltwinsfan and 3 others like this

I like his attitude already because the great ones do get to MLB in 4 years or less.I want players with talent and determination who move quickly, which brings me to Lewis who was our previous all world drafted SS with all the tools.. I know Royce is still to come, but he was our nationally ranked highly regarded prospect for a few years and I feel like he has slipped back (I am curious where he will be ranked).So how do we keep this young draft choice moving upward quickly and positively?

    • bighat likes this
I don’t want to sound negative but it sounds like he is a long shot to stick at SS
    • DannySD likes this
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howieramone2
Feb 10 2020 07:58 AM
I borrowed the story from Callis' partner on MLB.com. Saw no need to verify.

If I remember correctly the Twins were always enamored with his defense and speed.The bat speed was there for power as well the one missing thing and it was a big one was the hit tool.In general I don't like it when teams take guys with poor hit tools early in the draft because far too often guys that don't have a good one never really develop one.You can have the other 4 tools but without the hit tool it all goes down the drain. 

 

Cavvy is very young and certainly has plenty of time to develop so no need to panic just yet but I still think he is a bit of a gamble.Most high schoolers that start out in pro ball don't do well their draft season.We should know more about how well things are going to go after this year if he doesn't get hurt.

    • 70charger, Minny505, rdehring and 1 other like this

 

I don’t want to sound negative but it sounds like he is a long shot to stick at SS

 

Most don't, but they'll want to keep him there as long as they can to continue working on range and footwork and athleticism and all those things (whereas 3B is more reactionary). A lot will depend upon how he matures physically. He's already a big kid. Looks a lot like Carlos Correa, and he's stayed a short. Also, if they have a good SS in a few years when he's needed, he can certainly play 3B. 

    • gagu, MN_ExPat and wabene like this

I wonder if the Twins push him like they have with recent high draft picks.The old guard would keep him in extended spring training and then GCL with a move up to elizabethan, but Falvine, has been much more aggressive early in careers with high picks moving them up faster.I bet, unless he just looks super over matched, he starts in ceder rapids. 

The "hit tool" is weird. The other tools are all pretty much natural physical attributes. Hitting mostly is a learned skill that is impacted by a bunch of natural physical attributes that aren't counted as tools: vision, quickness, hand eye coordination, intellect. 

 

There are some people who pick up the mechanics pretty quickly from a young age, and I suppose they get some due credit for being natural hitters. Most have to learn it though and reinforce with a lot of repetition and constant refinement. 

 

I would say that in either of these cases, the results are a player who can hit a fastball. That's the foundation of the "hit tool"... I think. 

 

My question is, how much does a hitter's ability to hit off-speed (or lay off it) influence the qualification of his "hit tool"? 

 

If a guy has the other tools, and the 'sub-tools', and has the proper hitting mechanics, looks great in BP, and crushes fastballs when he knows they're coming, then I think he has a good chance of learning/adjusting to off-speed.

 

Hopefully that is the case with Keoni. If it's not, he's going to be a bust, and someone(s) in the FO made a poor selection. Being a great athlete is icing on the cake. Nobody wants a cake without the icing, but the f'ing cake is hitting fastballs. 

 

A .171 BA, with his speed, is a bad sign.

 

Since we're doing comparisons... Byron Buxton was a raw, athletic HS 1st round pick. He murdered fastballs and his off-speed game didn't get exposed until he debuted in MLB.

 

The Mike Trout comps don't make sense. 

    • 70charger, Dman, Minny505 and 3 others like this

well, it would be great if in 4 years he's ready to take over at 3B?

 

I think he's hard to place as a prospect right now, since it's all tools and projection. #8? ok. If he'd slotted in as #13 I'm not sure I would have quibbled. I think his projection will get a little clearer after this season. Right now he's this high because he was the twins #1 pick and we've shown fairly good draft acumen lately and the FO has earned some rope. But he's got a long ways to go.

    • DocBauer, tarheeltwinsfan, wabene and 1 other like this
I personally wouldn’t have him this high (I admit I overvalue the hit tool a lot). But that’s what it takes to be a MLB caliber hitter. I get that 25 games is a very small sample size. I bet he’s been working hard all winter, given his attitude. I like this kid, and hope he can succeed!
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ChrisKnutson
Feb 10 2020 10:45 AM
Especially after dealing Graterol, as far I’m concerned Cavaco is trade bait now. So here’s to hoping he has a good year!!!
    • Tomj14 likes this

We will know more after this season. I will admit Cavaco ceiling is high, and he was drafted high last year, but for me he is more like #15 and behind Walner and Canterino.  

 

 

    • LeePinLee likes this
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drivlikejehu
Feb 10 2020 10:55 AM

At #13 in the draft, you normally can't get someone with both elite tools and also advanced present-day skills. Occasionally clubs just miss, like 2/3 of the league did on Trout. But he's the obvious exception that shouldn't be brought up as a comparison for almost anyone.

 

For mid and small market teams, it makes sense to prioritize upside. 

 

 

 

 

 

Don't know what to think about Cavaco, Seth.

 

It is correct that the Twins took him higher than a lot of people thought at draft time, isn't it?And I don't recall any first pick of ours doing this poorly in his first exposure to professional ball.I understand everything you have written about his tools.But having the tools doesn't always mean a young player will be a success.

 

There may be lots of circumstances related to his poor performance.But it was so bad it was more than disappointing, at least to me.So for me, ranking him #8 is too high, way too high. But he is a young Twin, so I remain hopeful he becomes the type of player the Twins drafted and proves me wrong.

The Twins did take him higher than most thought he would go. It sounded more like they felt they had the ability to do so because of the organizational depth. They had a deep enough farm system to identify a young guy with the tools to be a game changer. They knew he was a raw talent. Nobody is going to be fired up to see the numbers he put together in his debut. There's obviously more there though and the front office was confident that they could spend the time developing him, and afford the risk that came along with it.

    • MN_ExPat and wabene like this

He should not be in the top 10 (or even 20) unless he can hit his weight in Rookie league, first round pick or not.I hope that he has a hard time adjusting to the wooden bat and not to professional pitches...

 

Even BJ Garbe (another former High Schooler first rounder) hit .316/.391/.415 in his first pro-season and in advanced Rookie (Etown).Unless I see more, Garbe is his ceiling...

    • Mike Sixel, h2oface, blindeke and 2 others like this

His ceiling is whatever you want to guess but right now I would say his floor is .172 in GCL. Ranking seems a bit high.

    • Sam Morley, Minny505 and DannySD like this

We're comparing him to Trout? Dear lord. For now we can start by comparing him to Nick Gordon, then maybe move him up the comparison ladder if he happens to be better than Nick. That's about 50-50 at this point, and I'd give Gordon the better floor and better chance at a long major league career. 

    • Minny505 and jkcarew like this

I think everyone needs to relax about the Trout comp.  Howie has already said it wasn’t backed up with data.

 

Having said that, this does seem like a high ranking, but the kid has had about 5 minutes of pro experience and anyone who has read these rankings over the years know that toolsy guys are pushed up the rankings regardless of their stats, at least until they get to AA and flame out....or turn the corner.

    • birdwatcher and wabene like this

 

Don't know what to think about Cavaco, Seth.

 

It is correct that the Twins took him higher than a lot of people thought at draft time, isn't it?And I don't recall any first pick of ours doing this poorly in his first exposure to professional ball.I understand everything you have written about his tools.But having the tools doesn't always mean a young player will be a success.

 

There may be lots of circumstances related to his poor performance.But it was so bad it was more than disappointing, at least to me.So for me, ranking him #8 is too high, way too high. But he is a young Twin, so I remain hopeful he becomes the type of player the Twins drafted and proves me wrong.

 

As I recall, there was some concern that the team before them or two picks before them might take him. But yeah, he was targeted by the Twins and they were thrilled he was there.  

 

Likewise, putting up strong numbers in a pro debut doesn't necessarily indicate anything (though it's more fun). 

    • birdwatcher likes this
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terrydactyls1947
Feb 10 2020 03:05 PM
It took me several years before I could figure out how to pronounce the blonde woman's name on The Big Bang Theory and now the Twins draft this kid. Can someone spell it phonetically for me?? At first I thought they drafted Keanu Reeves!
    • Sam Morley likes this

Can someone spell it phonetically for me??

Ke-o-ni Ca-va-co.
 
HTH.
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terrydactyls1947
Feb 10 2020 03:27 PM

Ke-o-ni Ca-va-co. HTH.


Accent on the middle syllable for each name? How do you pronounce HTH? Or even better, what does it mean?
    • gil4 likes this

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