The Twins didn't have a 'need' for Trevor Larnach in the first round of the 2018 draft. The big-league team was brimming with young outfielders at the time, while Brent Rooker was quickly establishing himself in the minors alongside breakout prospect star Alex Kirilloff.
None of that mattered. Because in the MLB Draft, you don't select based on need. Larnach's a perfect example of why.
Age: 22 (DOB: 2/26/1997)
2019 Stats (A+/AA): 542 PA, .309/.384/.458, 13 HR, 66 RBI
2019 Ranking: 4
National Top 100 Rankings
BA: 45 | MLB: 81 | ATH: 82 | BP: 85
What's To Like
Larnach was one of the hottest collegiate players in the country when Minnesota drafted him, wrapping up a monster season at Oregon State with a beastly performance in the College World Series. After slashing .303/.421/.429 with three home runs in 60 games as a sophomore for the Beavers, the outfielder's power fully blossomed as a junior: 68 games, .348/.463/.652, 19 HR.
That helium factor contributed to Minnesota overlooking its stockpile of bat-first corner guys in the system, snagging Larnach with their first 2018 pick at No. 20 overall. Good call.
Larnach is a refreshingly complete hitter. Many power bats come out of the college ranks with huge holes in their swings and gaudy strikeout totals (see: Rooker) but Larnach achieves excellent strike zone coverage and can drive the ball to all fields. He has struck out in only 21% of his pro plate appearances while batting ~.300 or better at every stop dating back to his sophomore year at Oregon State.
Among qualified hitters in the Florida State League, where Larnach spent much of 2019 before a mid-July promotion to Double-A, his .316 average ranked No. 1 (the second-best mark was .298, which tells you something about the challenging FSL hitting environment), as did his OPS, wOBA, wRC+, and any other hitting metric you might invoke. He was simply transcendent.
He didn't slow down much after heading to Pensacola. In the Southern League, Larnach posted an identical .842 OPS overall, gradually finding his groove after a slow start and slashing .324/.417/.479 in his final 20 games.
For the season, Larnach led all Twins minor leaguers in hits, appropriately earning himself Minor League Hitter of the Year honors from both Twins Daily and the Twins themselves. At 6-foot-4 and 220 lbs, the strong-armed lefty swinger has all the attributes of a prototypical brawny right field staple.
What's Left To Work On
A major power surge in his junior year is what solidified Larnach's status as a first-round pick, but that pronounced pop hasn't yet carried over to the pros. Don't get me wrong, a .468 slugging percentage through 169 minor-league games is nothing to scoff at, but a .149 ISO and 18 total home runs are lower than you'd expect from a guy with his size, scouting grades, and overall production.
His trouble? Turning on the ball.
Last June, even as he tore up the FSL, Larnach told the Star Tribune's LaVelle E. Neal III: "Since the offseason I’ve been doing everything I can to get this inside pitch down, and I’m getting better at it." But he added, “I’m not where I want to be."
A look at his XBH spray chart below (courtesy MiLB.com) reflects a hitter who is extremely adept at launching to the opposite field and to straightaway center, but is less forceful on the pull side. Indeed, MiLB.com's Sam Dykstra notes that Larnach's 41.2% pull rate in 2019 was fifth-lowest among qualified Minnesota minor leaguers.
To be clear, this offensive profile is not a negative. Some of the greatest batsmen in the game are defined by their ability to hit a pitch where it's thrown. But as any Joe Mauer cynic will tell you, power output can suffer when one isn't able to aggressively punish those mistakes on the inner half.
Larnach's overall mastery at the plate overshadowed any shortcomings in the XBH column, but when it comes to bat-handling and discipline, Joe Mauer he is not. He's also a pure corner guy in the field, so the same thing I wrote about our No. 9 prospect Rooker applies here: lower defensive value necessitates higher offensive value. If Larnach is to pan out as the upper-tier MLB outfielder we hope, standout power will be a necessary ingredient in the equation.
He fared well in his first turn at Double-A, but from here on out, pitchers will only become more and more prone to attack his weaknesses. Can Larnach get where he wants to be with that down-and-in pitch?
This spring, Larnach is officially in Twins camp as a non-roster invite. A year ago, he was called over from the minor-league side for a Grapefruit League game at Hammond Stadium, and I'm pleased to say I was sitting right next to Seth Stohs in the press box when he caught this moment on film:
It's fair to presume Larnach will make a fine impression in his more extended action this spring. But regardless, he is billed to open in the minors – probably back at Pensacola. With a strong start, he can earn a promotion to Rochester where he'd be reunited with his Cedar Rapids manager Toby Gardenhire.
Then, it becomes a matter of a spot opening up for him at the big-league level. Nothing awaits in the immediate offing, but Larnach may well prove to be the type of player worth making room for, even if they don't have a "need" for him.
Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects
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
7. Ryan Jeffers, C
6. Jhoan Duran, RHP
5. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
4. Brusdar Graterol, RHP
3. Trevor Larnach, OF
Check back tomorrow for #2!
MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email