Keoni Cavaco, Minnesota’s first pick in Monday’s MLB draft, made it clear he’s in a hurry to play for the Twins as soon as possible.
The team’s second pick, Southern Miss outfielder Matt Wallner, has been thinking about that possibility his whole life.
The Twins used their three first-day picks on a couple of power hitters in Cavaco and Wallner, who played high school baseball in Forest Lake, and on a power pitcher in Rice righty Matt Canterino.
Twins scouts had barely heard of Cavaco at this time a year ago, because the 6-1, 185-pound teen, a shortstop and third baseman from Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, Calif., wasn’t invited to many of the summer showcases that amateur players attend.
But when he took part in the Angels Elite showcase in Anaheim in November, they took notice.
“We saw him at Angels Stadium at a workout, and he was hitting balls on the rocks out there in left-center, which caught a few of our guys’ eyes. As it should,” Johnson said. “That’s when we really dug in (on him). And we literally had somebody at every one of his games this spring.”
They saw an athletic infielder who played defense like he was born to do it, and had an arm so strong, he occasionally pitched. He also has speed that reminded scouts of ...
“He would run 4-flat (seconds) to first from the right side, which honestly is close to what (Byron) Buxton does,” Johnson said. “We’re not thinking he’ll be that fast for the long term, but he’s got really great hands, he’s got at least a 7 arm on the (scouting) scale of 2-8. He can throw from different angles. He’s just really athletic, and the defense comes really easy to him.”
Cavaco, who turned 18 on Sunday, has committed to play for San Diego State next year, but the Twins are confident, Johnson said, “that we’re going to reach an agreement at some point.”
Wallner, who was named Minnesota’s Mr. Baseball as a high school senior in Forest Lake gave up pitching this season and batted .323 with 22 home runs.
“I love hitting. I love working on outfield drills and just playing every day,” Wallner, 21, said.
The Twins took Wallner with the 39th pick overall, a competitive balance pick they received between the first and second rounds of the draft.
His Twins history goes back to “getting blown out” the revolving doors at the Metrodome.
Canterino has been Rice’s ace for the past couple of seasons, and posted a 2.81 ERA this year.
On Tuesday, the Twins picked Oregon infielder Spencer Steer with their third round (90th overall) pick. Steer hit .349 with six home runs and 57 RBI and is considered an excellent defensive player. He is a native of Long Beach, Calif. He was drafted in 2016 out of Millikan High School by Cleveland in the 29th round (872nd overall) but elected to play college ball for the Ducks.
Wright State third baseman Seth Gray was the fourth round (176th overall) choice. He had 11 home runs, 70 RBI and hit .351 during his junior season.
The fifth round pick was Auburn shortstop Will Holland, the sixth rounder was Mercer pitcher Sawyer Gipson-Long and the seventh rounder was UConn shortstop Anthony Prato.
In the eighth round, the Twins took Casey Legumina, a righthanded pitcher from Gonzaga. Lefthanded pitcher Brent Headrick of Illinois State was the ninth round pick, and Duke pitcher Ben Gross was the 10th round selection.
The remainder of the 40-round draft is today.