Minnesota Twins 2021 MLB Draft Report Card
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Best Pure Hitter: Minnesota’s highest bonus hitter was SS Noah Miller (1s), who signed for $1.7 million. Miller stood out more for his glove at a premium position than his bat, but he’s got a simple stroke from both sides of the plate, with a more free and easy swing from the right sad at the moment. Miller hit .238/.316/.369 with a pair of home runs, a triple and three doubles in his pro debut in the Florida Complex League. Third baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand (4) has hit everywhere he’s been so far, including a loud pro debut this summer: .391/.424/.598 at Low-A Fort Myers.
Best Power Hitter: Encarnacion-Strand has at least plus raw power and he tapped into that in Low-A Southeast, hitting four homers, three doubles and a pair of doubles in just 22 games. His 1.022 OPS was good for No. 9 in the league among hitters with 50 or more plate appearances. With Oklahoma State this spring, Encarnacion-Strand showed plenty of strength and a feel for turning around velocity, with 15 home runs and 17 doubles.
Fastest Runner: The Twins didn’t draft many burners this year, but second baseman and center fielder Dylan Neuse (17) is a plus runner who can cover a lot of ground in the outfield, and throws and fields well enough at a number of positions to profile as a utility player.
Best Defensive Player: Miller was one of the more highly regarded defensive shortstops in the 2021 draft class and has all of the physical and mental tools necessary to stick at the position moving forward. While he doesn’t have standout footspeed, Miller has a great first step, good reactions, an advanced internal clock and instincts that allow him to play the position at a high level. He has the makings of a plus defender.
Best Fastball: The Twins drafted a high school righthander in the first round for the first time since 2013 (Kohl Stewart) when they took Chase Petty (1) with the 26th pick. He’s on a short list of prep pitchers who have touched 102 mph, but the pitch is explosive because of its immense movement as well as its velocity. Lefthander Steve Hajjar (2) was up to 97 mph for the Twins on back fields and lefthander Cade Povich (3) has started throwing harder since the draft as well, touching 93-95 during instructs.
Best Secondary Pitch: Petty’s slider has flashed 70-grade potential at times. Hajjar has a slider that looked like his best swing-and-miss offering in college and should be a good pitch as well. It’s also worth mentioning lefthander Christian Macleod’s (5) downer curveball for this category.
Best Pro Debut: Encarnacion-Strand began his career with a 20-game hitting streak. He tallied hits in 21 of his 22 games this summer, and also managed eight multi-hit games. That combined with his power numbers mentioned previously makes for a good argument here. Povich threw just 10 innings between the FCL and Low-A Southeast, but he posted a 0.90 ERA and struck out 19 batters, while walking just two.
Best Athlete: Petty stood out for his athleticism in high school. He’s a good mover on the mound and has plenty of arm speed, though there is a significant amount of effort in his arm stroke.
Most Intriguing Background: Miller’s older brother, Owen. made his big league debut with the Indians this year, while shortstop Mikey Perez’s (15) mother, Kelly Inouye-Perez, is the head softball coach at UCLA—the same school Perez attended.
Closest To The Majors: Povich has already answered some of the pre-draft questions scouts had for him, and his strike throwing combined with his added velocity could make him a quicker mover in the system.
Best Late-Round Pick (Or NDFA): The Twins were excited to wind up with righthander David Festa in the 13th round. He was up to 96 in instructs and showed a nice breaking ball as well. Prior to the draft, scouts had some concerns about his feel for spin, but with a step forward in that category he could project nicely as a starter, with a solid low-80s changeup that has good tumbling action and fade.
The One Who Got Away: The only player the Twins failed to sign was righthander Brandon Birdsell (11), who was Texas Tech’s Friday starter at the beginning of the season before a shoulder injury ended his season. He’ll return to college and look to improve his draft stock and continue showing a strong fastball/slider combination.