With the news that outfield prospect Trevor Larnach has been called up, I thought it might be fun to look back at an article I wrote on him for the 2020 Twins Prospect Handbook. Larnach had been named Twins Daily's Minor League Hitter of the Year, so we did the below story on him.
2019 Minor League Hitter of the Year: Trevor Larnach
The Twins held the 20th pick in the 2018 draft. When it was time to pick, they selected outfielder Trevor Larnach from Oregon State University. He was seen as an advanced college bat from a big-time program, a guy who could potentially move quickly up the system. Larnach had a huge junior season. He hit .348/.463/.652 (1.116) with 19 doubles and 19 home runs.
Days after the draft, Larnach played hero in Omaha, at the College World Series with a dramatic, ninth-inning, game-winning home run to keep Oregon State’s title hopes alive. They won the next night as well and his college career ended with a championship.
Before spring training 2019, Larnach spoke of his Oregon State experience. “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’ve built such an awesome bond. I was fortunate to learn that from them and to experience that.”
And now, following a successful first full season in professional baseball, Larnach continues to reflect posi-tively on his time in Corvallis. “It was my whole experience (at Oregon State) around a bunch of great people. When I was in that environment, everyone worked their (butts) off, and it became contagious. We all had one goal and that drove everyone to be the best they can be. It wasn’t one individual. It was the whole environment, and I was lucky to be a part of it.”
Soon after his team left Omaha, Larnach agreed to terms with the Twins. He was sent to Elizabethton to start his professional career. He played 18 games for the E-Twins, really just to get back into the proverbial swing of things. He hit .311/.413/.492 (.905) with five doubles and two homers. He then moved up to Cedar Rapids and played the final 24games of the Kernels season and their playoff run. Hehit .297/.373/.505 (.878) with eight doubles and three homers.
That brings us to the 2019 season. Larnach was pushed in spring training and started the season at High-A Fort Myers. In 84 games with the Miracle, he hit .316/.382/.459 (.842) with 26 doubles and six home runs. He was named to the Florida State League All Star team. After the season, he was named the Florida State League’s Player of the Year.
Larnach not only led the circuit with a .316 batting average, he was the only qualified hitter to eclipse the .300 mark. He also led the league in slugging percentage at .459 and his .382 on-base percentage ranked third.
Hitting is not an easy task in the Florida State League. It is very much known as a pitcher-friendly league.“It’s definitely a challenge. There’s a few things that go into that.’ Larnach explained. “The ball doesn’t fly.
You’re playing in big league parks. Generally those parks are a little bit larger because they’re spring training facilities. I’ve seen plenty of people from my team or other teams hit the ball on the screws at 100-plus
mph and it doesn’t make it to the warning track where it might be 25-feet over the fence in other leagues. It is what it is, and it prepares you in a way that makes you mentally tough.
”However, being able to handle that kind of adversity wasn’t much of an issue for the Twins prospect. He says that he has always been a guy who thinks as much about the process as he does about the results.
“I learned that in college. When I was in high school, I was a lot more individual-based and focused on my numbers. That’ll work at the high school or even at the college level, but I’ve learned that if I truly want to take the pressure off of myself and don’t want to get discouraged by numbers or statistics or even development, you just focus on what you’re doing. That’s the process. That’s always made me feel the best and put things into perspective.”
In mid-July, he was promoted to Double-A Pensacola. With the Blue Wahoos, he played in 43 games. In that time, he hit .295/.387/.455 (.842) with four doubles and seven home runs. He noticed a difference in play from the Florida State League to the Southern League.
“I thought there were a few things that stood out to me. First, the umpiring was better. Second, the fielders made a lot less errors. If you hit a ground ball, it was almost certainly an out. Sometimes you can get away with that at the lower levels. The pitching, as far as I’m concerned - the stuff, the velo, the types of break that it has - were all pretty similar, but the guys at Double-A can pitch a lot better. They can set you up better. They can throw the ball where they want it better.”
Larnach’s approach at the plate might help him overcome some of that improved pitching. If you watch Larnach play enough, you can see that he hits the ball to the opposite field very well. He’s got good power and drives the ball to left and left-center often.
“I personally think that you need to be able to use the whole field and cover both sides of the plate. I’m not saying I have it all figured out, but I know that the higher you go, the easier it is for them to find the holes (in your swing), especially in the big leagues. Teams find holes. They find a weak spot. If you want to stay at the highest level, I truly believe that you have to be able to cover both sides of the plate and you’ve got to be able to hit the ball wherever it is pitched.”
Larnach played with several other top prospects in Ft. Myers, and when he got to Pensacola, he was on a very strong roster, filled with prospects. The team won and made the playoffs. Asked about the talent that he was able to play with, Larnach spoke to the talent throughout the system.
“It’s not just in Double-A. The Twins have players up and down the system from the rookie level to Triple-A, and obviously the big leagues.
You look around and you see guys that are really well developed, and they’re really good ballplayers and a lot of them are really good guys too.”
It’s about relationships. It’s about culture. Those things that made Oregon State so special to Larnach can also be seen in the teams that he has played for as a professional ballplayer, especially in 2019. At the same time, there is a huge difference between the college game and the pro game. In pro ball, the ultimate goal is to get to the big leagues and there are a lot of steps along the way.
“It’s a competition, but you want to build relationships too. You hope that they want to win rings as much as I do. It’s fun. When you’ve got as good of an organization as the Twins do, you really want to compete to the best of your ability so you can make it to your goal of reaching the big leagues.”
2019 is now in the rear view mirror. Larnach is looking forward to 2020. He has given thought to the upcoming season and what some of his goals are.
“Process is so important to me. I take a look at what needs to be improved from the last season. I think everyone knows that I was drafted as a 6-foot-4 outfielder who was supposed to be hitting home runs and driving in runs. That’s my main focus, doing the job that I was paid to do.”
He then spoke in specifics. “I just want to see improvements in parts of the game that I need to get to the highest level and stay there. Personally, 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.”
And then there is the big goal...
“And, of course, trying to make the same goal that I’ve had since I was a little kid.”
It’s the same goal that most of us reading this had as a kid too, to get to the big leagues.
Larnach has the right perspective and work ethic to get there.
“For me, what’s worked... if you do things right on and off the field, everything will fall into place.”