Ryan Jeffers: Twins 2020 Rookie Of The Year
Rookies are to be seen and not heard, that’s how clubhouse seniority works. But when Ryan Jeffers arrived, the Twins were interested in listening to what the 23-year-old catcher had to say.
“One less-appreciated aspect of catching is the ability to communicate with the pitchers, to understand their thinking and their processes and to help generate ideas about how to deal with various situations and batters. Most pitchers want that input,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said.
“Ryan has a way of connecting with pitchers that earned their trust right away..”
Jeffers connected on a few pitches, too. He hit a .273/.355/.436 with three home runs in a 26-game debut that helped make the UNC Wilmington product the Twins’ top rookie. But he sure doesn’t seem like a rookie to some of the veterans on Minnesota’s pitching staff.
“I’ve been real impressed with him. He’s a quick learner, and he makes adjustments as needed throughout a game,” righthander Tyler Clippard said. “When bullpen guys come in there, no matter who it is, he’s got a good sense of how to change things up. We’ve worked real well together. I really enjoy throwing to him.”
Jeffers, who according to MLB Statcast was also the Twins’ most successful pitch framer, made it a point to spend summer camp getting to know the big league pitchers, even though he didn’t make the Opening Day roster. That made for an easy transition when he was called up on Aug. 20 to fill in for injured starter Mitch Garver.
“We had a good dialogue, the pitchers and me, right from the start. Those guys trust me a little bit more than they would some unknown guy walking in,” said Jeffers, a 2018 second-round pick. “The pitchers have been interested in my input, guys with different personalities, different walks of life, different stages of their career, different styles of pitching. We can help each other.”
And it impresses his manager, too. “A major league catcher, a guy who can also swing the bat, a guy with a good mind,” Rocco Baldelli said. “He stepped right in and gave us everything we could possibly hope for, and more.”