Twins Get Their Man Yunior Severino
When the international signing period opened on July 2, the Twins had a pretty good idea of what they were getting for their first $2.5 million expenditure.
That’s because their new acquisition, Dominican second baseman Yunior Severino, was already in uniform, torturing Rookie-level Appalachian League pitchers with Elizabethton.
"It’s nice when you reduce the risk like that, no doubt,” vice president for player personnel Mike Radcliff joked. "You don’t normally get to watch 200 plate appearances before you sign someone.”
Severino was the one who got away from the Twins during the 2017 international signing period. They had followed him for years, but he chose to sign with the Braves instead.
But when Major League Baseball ruled in November that the Braves had circumvented international spending rules, Severino, who by then had played in 48 games in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, was among 13 Atlanta prospects whose contracts were voided. The Twins moved quickly, committing $2.5 million—which comes out of this year’s $6 million bonus pool—to sign the 18-year-old.
"We always had a lot of interest in him, especially in his bat. We tried hard to sign him (in 2017),” Radcliff said. "When he became available again, we had that GCL sample, which had validated our scouting. We were fairly confident he’s got special skills.”
Severino has begun to prove it this year. He collected 10 hits in his first five games this season, and after 18 games for Elizabethton he had hit .316/.369/.487 with three home runs.
"He’s got a great swing. He’s like (2016 first-round pick) Alex Kirilloff—his swing stands out from the others,” Radcliff said. "You could see it last year, when he nearly led the (GCL) in doubles."
Still to be answered is whether the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Severino will stay in the middle infield. "He’s going to get bigger, so we’ll see,” Radcliff said. "I would say with his size, he’ll probably end up being a corner guy, but he’ll have the bat for it, too.”
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** Outfielder Byron Buxton, optioned to Triple-A Rochester to retool his swing mechanics, was placed on the disabled list with a strained left wrist on July 13. That was good news to the Twins, who had feared he had fractured a bone in that wrist, which has sidelined him twice before.
** The Twins promoted two of the organization's first-rounders to open July: Righthander Kohl Stewart, No. 4 overall in 2013, moved to Rochester, while shortstop Royce Lewis, No. 1 overall in 2017, advanced to high Class A Fort Myers.