With their first-round selection — No. 15 overall — the Minnesota Twins selected prep outfielder Alex Kirilloff. Kirilloff hails from New Kensington, Pa. — a suburb of Pittsburgh — and is home-schooled but plays for nearby Plum High School.
Kirilloff was excited to talk to reporters after his selection, and said it was a great day from beginning to end. Kirilloff began the day by going 1-for-3 with an intentional walk in a state tournament quarterfinal game — a Plum win — and now his high school team is two wins away from a state title. The Mustangs (23-0) beat Hempfield Area 5-0 to keep the dream alive for an unbeaten, state championship season in Class 4A.
They’ll face Marple Newtown on Monday.
Twins scouting director Deron Johnson said the team was pretty locked in on Kirilloff, upon whom he laid a Christian Yelich comparison. He even went so far as to say one of the team’s scouts had even put a Todd Helton comp on him — one of the best pure hitters of the last 20 years who hit .328 over his first 13 big league seasons and finished his career at .316.
Johnson added that Kirilloff projects as a fantastic defensive first baseman, but that the team doesn’t want to pigeonhole him at that position if he can hold down a outfield corner — most likely right field — in the future. Kirilloff is a bat-first prospect however, and Johnson said his best current tool is the hit tool, but that the power tool will be his best in the future.
Through 19 games this season, Kirilloff was hitting .544/.645/1.000 with 17 extra-base hits and a staggering 17-1 K/BB ratio. Kirilloff won the 2015 Perfect Game All-American Classic Home Run Challenge with 34 home runs at Fowler Park at the University of San Diego and Petco Park, and his father Dave is a former Pirates scout in his 24th year of baseball instruction with Baseball 19, with a recently-opened location in Tarentum, Pa.
The younger Kirilloff credited his father with instilling the love of the game in him at a very young age, and there are reports that young Alex was hitting off a tee even before turning a year old.
The Kirilloff File
- Kirilloff was No. 15 on the Baseball America top 500 draft prospects list.
- According to Baseball America, Kiriloff is one of the “better quick-twitch athletes of this class” and his offensive game is “built around his exciting power potential.” BA adds that he’s got plus raw power, but has not seen a lot of high-end pitching which showed up when he was playing in showcases.
- Johnson told reporters that Kirilloff doesn’t have a great first step, but that he runs well once he gets going. BA said he has “solid-average speed and an exceptional arm which makes him a natural fit for right field.”
- BA’s last mock had Kirilloff going 16th to the Angels, as did CBS Sports’. Chris Crawford of SI.com had him going out of the first round altogether. MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan May both nailed the pick with their mock that was posted at 4:34 local time, about 90 minutes before the draft started.
- Johnson on how long the Twins have been monitoring Kirilloff: “We got him last summer. He was kind of always that next tier behind the (Mickey) Moniaks (who went No. 1 overall) of the world. We just kind of steadily stayed on him and really got on towards the end of the summer. He had a really good All American Game in Jupiter. We followed him along the way, and he’s steadily improved.”
- Johnson on Kirilloff’s game and how it’s developed as Twins have monitored him: “The first thing is his swing; he has a really good technical swing. He squares up everything. He takes good at-bats, even against better pitching. It’s a little tough to evaluate better players in the league he plays in, but following him in the summer against better pitching made our evaluation that much easier.”
- Johnson on where Kirilloff will head after signing: “That’s Brad (Steil)’s decision, but he could play in the Appalachian League (higher-level Rookie ball affiliate). His bat is that advanced.”
- Johnson on how Kirilloff handles being a home-schooled kid on a team: “We did our work with him; he’s a mature guy. He gets along well with his teammates. He’s a very mature kid.”
- Johnson on how Kirilloff plays defense: “He’s a really good defensive first baseman. He’s got really good hands. He moves well. He’s really smooth. He can throw. Me personally? I wouldn’t want to pigeonhole a guy at that position. He’s a really good athlete as well. He’s a better runner underway; he doesn’t get out of the box well. He’s probably a plus runner. He’ll play the outfield for us for sure.”
- Johnson on his power-speed combo: “I’m not saying he’s a five-tool guy who is going to steal 30 bags, but his consistency in his swing has gained frequency in home run production. I think he’s going to be really good.”
- Johnson said Kirilloff may not be as fast as Yelich, but he throws better than him. “They’re similar comps,” Johnson said. “They have similar swings.” Johnson said Tim O’Neill was the area scout who threw the Helton comp on him. Johnson also added that Kirilloff is very aware of the strike zone and “barrels it up consistently.”
- Johnson also added Max Kepler as a possible comp, but added, “I think he’s got a little more thump than Kepler at that age.”
- Johnson said he saw Kirilloff play three games this year as well as a practice. “He’s 87-90 mph off the mound,” Johnson added to further exemplify how good his arm is.
- Johnson said that Jeff Randazzo is Kirilloff’s adviser. Randazzo was in the Twins system from 2000-05 after going in the fourth round in the 1999 draft.
(all videos courtesy of Dave Kirilloff on YouTube)
Kirilloff on Kirilloff
- Kirilloff said he was having a party with his teammates for the draft, and that being selected was a surreal moment. “When they called the name, everyone went nuts. It was a great moment,” Kirilloff said. “I’m excited for what the future holds.”
- Kirilloff on his baseball upbringing: “Baseball was instilled by my dad from a very young age. Basically my whole life he’s owned an indoor training facility, so having the opportunity to have that accessible to me every day any time I wanted to train has been great. It’s been a key part of my development so far.”
- Kirilloff said teams did due diligence about how his schooling — an online academy — worked, and finding out his reasons for doing it. Kirilloff said he did largely for baseball purposes to give him a lot more time to train and prepare for a future in baseball. He added that it’s done basically at his own pace but he has to have a lot of discipline to get all the work done. He also added that he’s already graduated.
- Kirilloff said his dad was the first person he embraced after the selection. “My dad was super, super excited,” Kirilloff said. “He was the first person I hugged, and kind of embraced the moment with. Not only for me, but this is also a huge dream come true for him as well.”
- Kirilloff said he played basketball up until about ninth grade before really zoning in on baseball.
With their second pick of the night — No. 56 overall — the Twins selected catcher Ben Rortvedt from Verona Area High School (Verona, Wis). Rortvedt is listed at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, and is a left-handed hitter and — of course — a right-handed thrower.
MLB.com had him listed as their No. 51 draft prospect, and he is committed to play at Arkansas as a collegiate. There’s .270 batting average upside with 20 home run potential according to Callis as he was breaking down the pick on MLB Network.
BA had Rortvedt as their No. 82 prospect in their top 500, with the note that very, very few Wisconsin players have come out of high school early in drafts with any success. BA added that there have been just 26 players signed and drafted in the top 10 rounds of any MLB draft, and only four have made the majors. Just one was in the last 45 years — Erik Cordier (a second-round pick of the Royals in 2004) who made it to the big leagues for a cup of coffee with the Marlins last year and the Giants in 2014. Cordier is playing for the Orix Buffaloes of the JPPL (Japanese Pacific League) with former big leaguers Brent Morel, Pat Misch and Brian Bogusevic.
BA concluded its report by saying he was old for the draft class (19 on Sept. 25), but that he ought to be picked in the first three or four rounds. As far as measurables, Perfect Game had Rortvedt with a 5.0 40-yard dash, 1.81 pop time behind the plate and as high as 83 mph from behind the plate (86 was the best in his grad class).
Rortvedt’s coach raved about his worth ethic to the Wisconsin State Journal recently. “He’s the best high school player I’ve ever seen in my coaching,” Brad D’Orazio said. D’Orazio is in his 10th season as varsity coach and 15th with the program. “It’s not just the physical tools but the way he works. All winter, all summer. Before practice, after practice. His work ethic is amazing.”
Rortvedt will graduate next week (June 12), and as of late May was hitting .393/.506/.574 with eight extra-base hits and 11 walks while often hitting third in the Verona order. Verona’s season came to an end on Tuesday with a 2-0 loss to Craig in the Wisconsin Division I State Tournament Sectional Finals.
The slot value for this pick is $1.14 million.
(all Rortvedt videos via Prospect Pipeline on YouTube)
With pick 73 in Lottery Round B — a competitive balance selection — the Twins selected shortstop Jose Miranda from Leadership Christian Academy of Guyanabo, P.R. BA has Miranda right behind Delvin Perez among the best infielders in a stacked class coming out of Puerto Rico, and their No. 113 prospect in the top-500 list they put out. Minranda is a Broward Community College (Davie, Fla.) commit.
Callis said Miranda has an advanced approach to hitting for his age. Miranda won’t be 18 for another couple weeks (June 29). Callis also cited the Twins’ familiarity and success in Puerto Rico with the likes of Eddie Rosario, Kennys Vargas and Jose Berrios all reaching the big leagues as part of their scouting efforts down there.
BA says Miranda makes plenty of contact at the plate due to his approach and feel, and he’ll likely hit for average power as he matures physically. It’s unlikely he’ll be able to stick at shortstop, but should be able to stay in the dirt due to his arm, glove and instincts. MLB.com’s Alyson Footer suggested in a recent article that his body type compares to Colorado’s Nolan Arenado, though he doesn’t project as that kind of hitter — which isn’t much of a caveat.
(Videos courtesy of Ernie Martell on YouTube)
With pick 74 — compensation for not signing Kyle Cody last year — the Twins selected Akil Baddoo, the No. 54 player on BA’s top-500 list. Baddoo is a high school outfielder from Salem High (Conyers, Ga.) and a University of Kentucky commit — which is kind of funny given Cody’s status as a current Wildcat. The MLB Network broadcast said Baddoo’s arm is not a strength — he’ll likely settle in left — but Dan O’Dowd — former GM of the Rockies — said Baddoo “reminds him of a young Carl Crawford with lightning quick hands, well above average bat speed and is a possible 20-20 guy if you want to dream a bit.” BA said there’s a chance he could develop a plus hit tool and hit atop a lineup in the future, which plays right into that Crawford comp.
Baddoo is the fourth prep pick in a row for the Twins — with none being pitchers. “They’ve gone with high upside guys with this draft class,” said MLB prospect guru Jonathan Mayo.
BA said that Baddoo combines “plus speed with an intriguing feel for the barrel.” Baddoo was very good in the 2015 East Coast Pro Event, where he played for a “Baltimore Orioles” team which also featured Seth Beer, who is coming off a mammoth season as a true freshman at Clemson. Will Benson (14th overall, Cleveland) and Alex Speas 63rd overall, Texas) were also on his team.
Here’s video of his Twins workout, courtesy of his father John Baddoo (as well as another from last fall):