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Akil Baddoo Brushes Off Slow Start



MINNEAPOLIS—Two months into his professional career, Akil Baddoo is already drawing comparisons to Torii Hunter.

The Twins aren’t worried.

"Torii hit one-something (actually .190) in the GCL. It doesn’t mean a thing,” Mike Radcliff, the Twins’ vice president for player personnel, said of the five-time all-star’s 1993 pro debut. "We have zero doubts about Akil. Forget the numbers. He impressed us in a lot of ways.”

Baddoo, drafted with the 74th overall pick last June, collected only 19 hits—precisely as many as Hunter did, by coincidence—in 38 Gulf Coast League games last summer, finishing with an ugly .178/.299/.271 slash line that nevertheless encouraged his new employers. Baddoo, like Hunter a speedy outfielder, was just 17 years old, with a body still growing and a baseball mind still learning.

"He’s getting really strong. He’s already put on about 10 pounds of muscle,” Radcliff said. "He was hitting balls out during instructional league. In the space of three months, he made big strides with his strength and approach.”

Baddoo’s GCL results were the result of a hurdle common to rookies just out of high school: the seven-day grind.

"It’s tough. In high school, you play two days in a row, that seems like a lot,” Baddoo, a native of Salem, Ga., said. "In pro ball, you practice in the morning and then play a game in the afternoon, and it’s every day. You have to trust your body.”

The Twins already do.

"The grind got to him a little, but he made the adjustments. It will be fun to watch him next year,” Radcliff said. "We thought he’d have power eventually, and it might happen fast. If he can stay in center field, maybe you’ve got something special, a real impact guy.”

TWIN KILLINGS

After serving for a decade as scouting director, Deron Johnson was promoted to senior scouting adviser. Sean Johnson, the West Coast supervisor, was promoted to scouting director.

Mike Quade will return for a third season as manager of Triple-A Rochester. Jake Mauer was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga from low Class A Cedar Rapids, where hitting coach Tommy Watkins will replace him. Doug Mientkiewicz, who led Chattanooga to the 2015 Southern League title, was returned to high Class A Fort Myers.

Garrett Whitlock Carmenmandatogetty

Was The 2020 Rule 5 MLB Draft The Best Of The 21st Century?

With names like Garrett Whitlock and Akil Baddoo at the forefront, the 2020 Rule 5 Draft stands above.

— Phil Miller covers the Twins for the Minneapolis Star Tribune

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