5 College Players Twins Fans Should Pay Attention to This Spring
Image courtesy of Matthew Shannon/Auburn AthleticsAfter finishing the 2020 MLB season with the 4th best record in baseball, the Twins are slated to have the 27th pick in this year’s draft. However, with the Astros first round pick being taken away as part of their punishment for the sign stealing scandal, the Twins will have the 26th pick in the draft.
Additionally, the Twins will have a pick in Competitive Balance Round A that comes right after the end of the first round. This means that the Twins will have two picks in the top 35 this year. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few college players that could be in play for the Twins to take with either one of their first two picks.
Ethan Wilson | OF | South Alabama | B/T: L/L
Baseball America Rank: 18th MLB Pipeline Rank: 23rd
If you want a prototype for a player the Twins are likely to take with one of their first picks in the draft, Ethan Wilson is it. In his freshman season in 2019, Wilson hit .345 with a 1.139 OPS and blasted 17 home runs in 56 games and was named a First-Team Freshman All-American. Those 17 home runs were tied for the 29th most in college baseball that season. In his sophomore season, Wilson played just 18 games before the season was cancelled, but in that span, he hit .282 with an OPS of .794.
Wilson is known mostly for the production he brings with the bat, as his defense can be limiting at times in the outfield. He isn’t the fastest of runners and doesn’t possess a cannon for an arm by any means, but given his potential with the bat, it is hard not to think the Twins will be very interested in Wilson if he puts together another strong season this spring.
Tommy Mace | RHP | Florida
Baseball America Rank: 38th MLB Pipeline Rank: 36th
For those of you who follow college baseball, you probably already know the powerhouse of a program that coach Kevin O'Sullivan has built over the past decade, primarily through dominate pitching staffs. Since 2016, the University of Florida has had 7 pitchers taken in the first three rounds of the draft, four of whom were first rounders. Among them is one of the newest members to the Minnesota Twins in Shaun Anderson. The story for Florida this year is no different, as they are the consensus number one team in the country heading into the season, and Tommy Mace is projected to be their Friday Night Ace.
For his career, that spans three separate seasons, Mace has accumulated 179 and 1/3 innings pitched to the toon of a 4.37 ERA, with 145 strikeouts and 55 walks. At 6’7”, Mace is a tall and projectable righty that throws as many as five potentially average or better pitches. He hasn’t shown a lot for swing and miss stuff to this point yet, which is keeping him down somewhat in the rankings, but if he can add that part to his game this spring look for him to fly up draft boards.
Levi Usher | OF | Louisville | B/T: L/R
Baseball America Rank: 31st MLB Pipeline Rank: 78th
In contrast to Ethan Wilson’s offensive first style, Levi Usher is an outfielder who excels defensively thanks to his speed and athleticism, with the bat still being a bit of a question mark, especially from a power perspective. Usher primarily played left field for Louisville last season, but whichever team drafts him will likely start him out at centerfield to see if his glove can stick there. If not, he will certainly be a plus corner outfielder with the flexibility to play center if needed.
The question marks with Usher’s bat mostly come down to the fact that we just haven’t seen much of him. Usher spent his freshman season a Kirkwood Junior College in Iowa, where he hit .409 with 36 stolen bases. This performance landed him a spot with one of the top college programs in the country at Louisville. In 16 games for the Cardinals in 2020, before the season was cut short, Usher had an impressive .411/.484/.571 slash line and went 11 for 12 in stolen base attempts. However, that mostly came against weaker pitching in the non-conference portion of the schedule, so it remains to be seen how he fairs going up against some of the best college arms in the country in the ACC in 2021.
Cody Morissette | SS | Boston College | B/T: L/R
Baseball America Rank: 28th MLB Pipeline Rank: 43rd
It is hard to find a player with a more well-rounded set of tools than Boston College shortstop Cody Morissette. There is no one part of his game that Morissette excels at, but there also aren’t really any weaknesses in his game either. In addition to that, Morissette has incredible positional flexibility, which will give him the opportunity to serve as a utility man if he is unable to stick at short full-time. The combination of Morrissette’s relatively high floor, along with his positional flexibility, give him a good chance of one day becoming an MLB regular which will be very attractive later in the first round and beyond.
In 58 games as a Freshman in 2019, Morissette had a .320/.371/.476 slash line with 8 stolen bases, 4 home runs and 20 doubles. Morissette got out to an amazing start to 2020, hitting .448 with an OPS of 1.177 in 15 games. With production like that, in the ACC, it is hard not to get excited about a prospect like Morissette. In addition to Morissette, Boston College features two other players in pitcher Mason Pelio and outfielder Sal Frelick who each have the ability to be mid-to-late first round picks as well and should be on Twins scouts radar this spring.
Richard Fitts | RHP | Auburn
Baseball America Rank: 15th MLB Pipeline Rank: 17th
Despite spending most of his first two college seasons coming out of the Auburn Tigers bullpen, Richard Fitts is drawing a lot of interest as a starting pitcher at the professional level and should get the opportunity to prove himself as a starter in the Tigers weekend rotation this spring. A reason for this optimism comes from the extended time Fitts has gotten out of the pen, as he has averaged nearly three innings per appearance in his college career.
Another reason for optimism in Fitts making it as a starting pitcher is the strong three pitch mix that he possesses. His two best pitches right now are his mid-90s fastball and his sharp sinking changeup, both of which are great swing and miss pitches. Fitts also throws a good-looking slider that is still a bit of a work in progress, but it has the potential to become a third plus pitch in his arsenal.
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