Twins Daily's prospect countdown: #7 Ryan Jeffers

The catch is known for both his offense and defense.
Author:
Publish date:
Ryan Jeffers

Ryan Jeffers epitomizes the depth of Minnesota's system. To have a player of this caliber – a two-way standout at catcher who's done nothing but perform as a pro, reaching Double-A within two years of being drafted – ranked seventh?!

Well, it's much more a credit to the guys above him than a knock on Jeffers, who beams with promise at a premium position.

Position: C
Age: 22 (DOB: 6/3/1997)
2019 Stats (A+/AA): 414 PA, .264/.341/.421, 14 HR, 49 RBI
ETA: 2021
2019 Ranking: 13

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

What's To Like

The bat. It was considered his primary strength coming out of college in 2018, when the Twins selected him in the second round. The North Carolina native put up spectacular offensive numbers in three years at UNC Wilmington, culminating with .315/.460/.635, 16 homers, and 51 walks in 62 games his junior year.

With numbers like that, as a catcher, you might ask why Jeffers fell to 59th overall and signed below slot, after ranking even farther back on most pre-draft projections. In short, there were some serious doubts about his slugging prowess translating away from aluminum bats, and his defense remaining viable behind home plate.

The Twins evidently were none too bothered by such concerns, and their faith has since been rewarded. Two months after the draft, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press wrote that Jeffers was laying quick claim to Twins 'catcher of the future.'

"Yeah, I was swinging a different bat, but baseball is baseball," Jeffers said at the time, fresh off an aggressive promotion to Cedar Rapids after dominating Elizabethton. "I didn’t change too much.” Nor did the numbers.

He finished with a .344/.444/.502 slash line between two levels, and found himself at Fort Myers to open the 2019 campaign. In the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, he wasn't quite as potent (.732 OPS and 10 homers in 79 games) but still impressed enough to earn a late-July promotion to Double-A, where he enjoyed an unforgettable first day and finished with an .856 OPS in 27 games.

It's the defense, though, that has really begun to separate Jeffers. After the 2018 season, Dan Hayes of The Athletic wrote about Minnesota's efforts to refine his receiving chops, and how aptly the malleable student was taking to it. One year later, Hayes wrote in our Offseason Handbook that Jeffers' pitch-framing skills were deemed by some folks within the organization to be "among the top 15 in pro ball right now."

MLB Pipeline recently named him the best defensive prospect in the Twins system, noting that Jeffers has shed his offense-first rep and "improved by leaps and bounds, with an above-average arm to go along with outstanding receiving and blocking skills."

What's Left to Work On

He's just got to keep proving it. Jeffers hasn't yet gained steam on national lists because, while his performance has been impeccable, it's not out of the ordinary for a premier college talent storming the lower levels of the minors.

Catcher, in particular, is a position where the difficulty level rises sharply with each rung of the ladder. Jeffers is clearly coming along nicely but he'll really be tested once he reaches Triple-A and especially the majors. One area for improvement is controlling the run game; at Rochester last year, opponents stole 63 bases in his 74 starts at a 74% success rate.

At 6-foot-4 and 230 lbs., Jeffers is a bit of a lumbering fellow who doesn't spring quickly from the crouch, and also doesn't move too well, which greatly limits his defensive options in the event catching doesn't work out. Luckily, there's no reason to believe that'll be the case.

What's Next

Jeffers is among the Twins' non-roster spring training invites, reporting with the rest of the pitchers and catchers this week. The team has (intentionally, I suspect) preserved flexibility at catcher by signing Alex Avila to a one-year deal, so the door is open for Jeffers to join Mitch Garver in the majors after 2020 if can make his case.

Speaking of the current Twins starting backstop, it was noted in the aforementioned Berardino profile that Jeffers was drawing "a lot of internal comparisons" to Garver, who at the time was just finding his way as a solid yet unspectacular rookie in the majors.

“I’ve heard that and I take it as a compliment,” Jeffers said then. “I’m trying to get to where Mitch has gotten.”

He's about to have his chance.

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
7. Ryan Jeffers, C
Check back tomorrow for #6!

MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email

This story first appeared at Twins Daily and was re-shared through a collaboration with Bring Me The News

Next Up

MNDeptofHumanRightsPhoto

Eagan-based Villaume Industries pays $90K fine in gender discrimination case

After the Minnesota Department of Human Rights found the company refused to hire women, Villaume committed to reforms

magazines

11 more people charged in massive magazine scam plead guilty

In total, 63 people from across the U.S. were charged in what prosecutors called the "largest elder fraud scheme in the nation."

Alex Stalock

Wild goalie Alex Stalock claimed off waivers by Oilers

The South St. Paul native will be heading to Edmonton.

Mortensen becker-finn

Shakopee GOPer posts DFL lawmaker's personal cell number on Facebook

Rep. Erik Mortensen has been accused of 'doxxing' Twin Cities lawmaker Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn.

derek chauvin

Minneapolis scraps plan to pay 'influencers' to share information during Chauvin trial

The plan to pay influencers to share city-approved messages during the trials of the officers charged in George Floyd's death drew criticism.

Doll

Toddler called 911 and said 'baby' was dead, turned out to be her doll

We're checking into whether the doll is named 'Chucky.'

Target Center

NCAA Women's Final Four 2022 will be held in Minneapolis

The NCAA unveiled the logo for the 2022 Final Four on Monday.

49920879552_ef6458affd_o2

As golf season approaches, book your round now at Dacotah Ridge GC

The stunning course is designed by world-renowned architect Rees Jones.

ambulance

Pedestrian killed in hit-and-run in St. Paul Sunday evening

The incident occurred near the intersection of Phalen Boulevard and Atlantic Street.

Related

Royce Lewis

Twins Daily's prospect countdown: #1 Royce Lewis

Baseball America ranked Lewis as Minnesota's best prospect in a LOT of areas.

Alex Kirilloff

Twins Daily's prospect countdown: #2 Alex Kirilloff

Kirilloff might be on the fast track to the big leagues.

Trevor Larnach

Twins Daily prospect countdown: #3 Trevor Larnach

As a first-round pick of the Twins, Larnach has a ton of power.

Byron Buxton

Looking back at the top 10 Twins prospects of the decade

Twins Daily's Seth Stohs knows more about prospects than anyone.

Keoni Cavaco

Breaking down Twins Daily's #8 top prospect Keoni Cavaco

The 2019 first-round pick has big-time potential.

Jhoan Duran

Twins Daily prospect rankings: #6 Jhoan Duran

Counting down the top prospects, and Duran has a chance to make waves this season.

Alex Kirilloff

Twins Daily: Comparing Twins' top prospects to MLB stars

What time does the World Series parade start?

Screen Shot 2020-04-22 at 10.53.53 AM

Twins Daily: Twins all-decade team of the 1980s (the hitters)

This lineup includes several players in the Twins Hall of Fame.