Yunior Severino has been a star attraction for every team he’s played for, launching “some of the most majestic home runs we’ve ever seen,” according to Twins farm director Drew MacPhail.
“Every day in batting practice.”
But during games, the switch-hitting Dominican kept hitting the ball on the ground, racking up about as many double plays as home runs. So the Twins spent spring training emphasizing the importance of launch angle with the 23-year-old third baseman.
Suddenly, Severino’s career arc is on a stratospheric trajectory, too.
“Nobody in our system hits the ball harder. But we worked with Sevie on getting better angles, and it’s really made a difference,” MacPhail said. “He still hits the ball just as hard, but it’s doing a lot more damage.”
Through 117 games, Severino batted .275/.357/.550 and blasted 34 home runs, one of the highest totals in the minor leagues. He spent the first four months of the season at Double-A Wichita, moving to Triple-A St. Paul on Aug. 4.
Severino struck out at a 32% rate because he chases out of the zone, but he had improved his in-zone contact frequency.
Severino signed with the Twins for $2.5 million in 2017, after his contract with the Braves was voided by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. Severino began his pro career as a second baseman but has moved to corner positions over the past couple of seasons, which helped him realize the value of defense.
“He really took it to heart. His (defensive) improvement has been almost as eye-opening as his power,” MacPhail said. “He’s feels really comfortable at third base.”
Trouble is, the Twins have graduated a bevy of corner infielders such as Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff and Jose Miranda the past few seasons. That makes Severino’s future uncertain, and he’s Rule 5 draft eligible this winter if the Twins don’t add him to the 40-man roster.
MacPhail, for one, hopes the Twins find a way to keep Severino.
“The guy has crazy power. It’s fun to watch,” he said.