Image credit: Minnesota Twins
Shortstop Keoni Cavaco’s unsatisfying debut, after the triumph of becoming a 2019 first-rounder from Eastlake High in Chula Vista, Calif., is the sort of thing that can motivate a prospect for another chance.
Sure enough, when the Twins next saw their 19-year-old phenom, he had a harder body and a hunger for improvement.
Which must make the wait even more aggravating.
“Frankly, Keoni is a guy who makes us really disappointed that we didn’t have a minor league season,” Twins farm director Alex Hassan said. “He wanted to get that start behind him, but all we could do is wait.”
The coronavirus pandemic cost Kavaco, who was drafted 13th overall in 2019, his first full season and the opportunity to restore the excitement and anticipation over his raw athleticism and developing skills.
Hampered by a quad strain in 2019, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound righthanded hitter batted .172/.217/.253 in a 25-game stint in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, with one home run, four walks and 35 strikeouts.
He returned home and devoted himself to his workouts. When the Twins summoned him to a month-long camp last fall, in an attempt to salvage a lost year, they found he had added 10 pounds of good weight. Then, the Twins worked on his swing.
“We’ve been working on making him more technically sound, just trying to get a solid base under him and work on flattening out his swing plane just a tick,” Hassan said. “He’s taken to those adjustments really well. We saw it in the competitive at-bats he had in camp.”
Cavaco had lost none of the quickness and arm strength that convinced the Twins he could play shortstop, and his progress at the plate reignited their scouts’ fervor for his future.
“Even after a year without playing a game, he showed a lot of the tools that we saw in him leading up to the draft,” Hassan said. “We all came away really excited about his progress.”
— Toby Gardenhire, who grew up in the Twin Cities while his father Ron served as a coach and then manager of the Twins, will return to the area this summer as coach of the St. Paul Saints, the Twins’ new Triple-A affiliate. Gardenhire, drafted by Minnesota in 2005, never made the majors, but has managed the Twins’ Class A teams in Cedar Rapids (2018) and Fort Myers (2019).
— The Twins announced that Bob McClure, who had been promoted to major league bullpen coach in 2020, will return to his former role as senior pitching advisor for the minor league system. McClure and bench coach Bill Evers, both in their 60s, were asked by the Twins not to work the shortened 2020 season due to the risk of contracting Covid-19. Evers will return to the dugout this year.