College choices to create financial flexibility with the bonus pool characterize the rest of today’s picks
Day two of the 2021 MLB first year player draft has completed and the Twins have made 11 selections so far. We profiled the selections of the first five rounds individually earlier today — check those out for more details about the newest additions to the Twins minor league system (assuming they sign, of course!).
Here, we’ve got some brief details about the players that were selected later in the day, in rounds 6 through 10. After splurging on two high school players with college commitments to SEC schools yesterday, the Twins went college heavy on Day 2, perhaps with an eye toward doing some bonus pool money maneuvering to help entice the selections with greater leverage to sign.
Here’s a bit about the remaining five players the Twins selected today:
Round 6, Pick 189: Travis Adams, RHP, Sacramento State
Adams is a right-handed junior pitcher that stands 6-foot-1 and weights 197 pounds. Over three seasons at Sacramento State, Adams worked 151 innings over 33 appearances (27 starts). He had a 72-16 strikeout to walk ratio this spring when he pitched to a 4.31 ERA. Adams spent the 2020 summer season with the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters in the Northwoods League, where he pitched to a 1.75 ERA with a 46-8 K-BB ratio over 36 innings. Adams was not listed as one of the Top 250 draft prospects on MLB.com and detailed public scouting report information on him is limited.
Round 7, Pick 219: Jake Rucker, 3B/2B, University of Tennessee
A three year starter on the infield for Tennessee, Rucker was a big part of the Volunteers College World Series run this past season. Over 145 games in the best conference college baseball has to offer, Rucker batted .311 / .388 / .463 with 104 strikeouts against 57 walks. His scouting report shows average-ish tools across the board and there is some optimism that he’ll continue to grow into the power that started to show up this season (9 home runs). Rucker offers some defensive flexibility on the infield and could be a fit at third or at second.
Round 8, Pick 249: Noah Cardenas, C, UCLA
The second Noah of the Twins’ draft, Cardenas hails from Saugus, CA; and has spent the last three seasons as UCLA’s starting catcher. Cardenas swings from the right-handed side of the plate, and he clocks in at 6’1” and 190 pounds, perhaps a bit small for a catcher. He’s a bit of an iron man, appearing in all of the games the Bruins played this season, and starting all-but-one. He threw out 38 baserunners, and had a fielding percentage (for whatever that matters) of .991—suggesting decent defense. He’s known to be a bit of an aggressive swinger, and a weak sophomore year at the plate is a bit more concerning than either of his other two collegiate seasons. Another area to watch—he did not call games while at UCLA, instead relaying a sign from the dugout. Still, in the 8th round, no perfect players exist, and Cardenas offers a lot of potential upside at a premium position.
Round 9: Pick 279: Patrick Winkel, C, University of Connecticut
The Twins picked their second consecutive college catcher in the ninth round, perhaps tipping their hand to a perceived weakness in the organization—or perhaps they just believed Winkel was the best player remaining. The UConn backstop hit .279 while appearing in 53 games as a sophomore. A few years ago, in 2018, the Yankees took Winkel in the 26th round, but he obviously chose the college route instead. He is a lefthanded hitter, potentially setting him up as a future platoon partner for Cardenas. According to UConn pitcher Ben Casparius “Pat’s one of the smartest baseball players I’ve ever met,” Casparius said. “He’s the best catcher that’s ever caught me, and that’s without a doubt. Not even close. There were a lot of games where Pat and I called our own game and 99 percent of the time, he puts a sign down and that’s what I’d predetermined to throw. We have a really great rhythm on the mound. He expects a lot of me, and I expect a lot from him and I know I’m going to get it every game.”
Round 10: Pick 309: Ernie Yake, SS, Gonzaga
A 5-11 junior, Yake can be considered a bit of a utility man. While his announced position is shortstop, between his career at Gonzaga and summer leagues, he has also played at second, third, and a bit of left field. While he has a bit of “doubles power,” his high OPS game comes mostly from the on-base portion, with a high batting average and a good eye at the plate. He strikes out rarely, and takes a decent number of walks. Despite moving around a bit, he was also a semi-finalist for the Brooks Wallace award, given to college baseball’s best shortstop.