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LaMonte Wade Justifying Twins' Belief



When Twins scout Billy Corrigan informed the team’s development department that he had scouted a future big league outfielder, nobody was surprised. Then Corrigan told them where he found LaMonte Wade.

"He was playing first base at Maryland. He had hurt his arm and had been moved to first base and DH, out of position,” said Mike Radcliff, the Twins’ vice president of player personnel. "But give Billy credit—he had seen him play outfield before. If you saw him just play first base, especially on a team that had a half-dozen other prospects, you might not be interested because he didn’t project there. But he evaluated LaMonte as an outfielder and got us believing in his bat.”

Corrigan campaigned for his colleagues to see Wade in person, and by draft day, they were convinced. The Twins used a ninth-round pick to draft Wade in 2015, surprising some teams, the Twins have been told, who had other Maryland players—eight were taken in that draft—rated far higher.

Minnesota quickly moved the former Terrapin back to the outfield and watched him grow into a legitimate major league prospect, currently ranked 21st in the Twins’ system by Baseball America.

"He’s really a metric darling—he takes pitches, works the count, draws walks. He’s proficient at all the analytic aspects of an offensive player,” Radcliff said. "He can play all three outfield positions, and he’s got real pop in the bat. Maybe not 20 home run power, but he can hit doubles and run.”

Wade put up a .298/.393/.444 line at Double-A Chattanooga in 2018 and earned a midseason promotion to Triple-A, but he had trouble making the adjustment and hit only .229/.337/.336 with Rochester. Regardless, the Twins invited Wade, now 25 and mostly a corner outfielder, to major league spring training, where he hit .296, drove in 10 runs and impressed manager Rocco Baldelli.

"He’s going to be a major league player. He just needs an opportunity,” Baldelli said. "He’s a young guy who is ironing out the ups and downs that everyone goes through.”

TWIN KILLINGS

— Double-A outfielder Alex Kirilloff opened the season on the injured list with a strained wrist he suffered near the end of spring training. When he returns, the Twins’ 2015 first-round pick will begin splitting time between the outfield and first base, a sign that the Twins don’t want a logjam of young outfielders to impede Kirilloff’s progress through the system.

— Double-A Pensacola’s pitching staff produced four shutouts through the team’s first 16 games, in part due to the dominance of a trio to pitching prospects: righthanders Brusdar Graterol and Griffin Jax and lefthander Devin Smeltzer. Each of the three pitchers allowed only one run in their first three starts, producing ERAs below 1.00, and they combined for a total of 53 strikeouts in 52 innings.

Shaun Anderson (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire Via Getty)

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