Entering the season it was hard to envision the Twins’ Ryan Jeffers getting an opportunity, with Mitch Garver and Alex Avila already on the roster. However Garver was limited to 23 games due to injury, opening up playing time. Jeffers took advantage, producing strong numbers:
55 At Bats
.273 Batting Average (15 Hits)
3 Home Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.355 On Base Percentage
.436 Slugging Percentage
.364 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Prior to the season we ranked Jeffers as the 14th best catching prospect, giving him a C+ grade. At the time we said:
“Will he stick at catcher or could he be moved to another position? Time will tell, but he’s coming quickly and is currently blocked at the highest level. Splitting time between High-A and Double-A he hit .264 with 14 HR over 414 PA, and adding 16 doubles and showing a strong approach (8.8% SwStr%) is promising. He has proven to be adept at the position defensively and does have the ability to mature into a solid option, especially if the power continues to develop.”
It’s interesting that we noted his strong approach, considering he struggled with a 30.6% strikeout rate in ’20. While his Whiff% wasn’t great against any type of pitch, it also wasn’t abysmal:
- Hard – 10.34%
- Breaking – 20.27%
- Offspeed – 17.24%
With experience we’d expect him to improve, and his 41.7% Hard% and 26.7% O-Swing% show that he wasn’t overmatched. He also showed an above average Barrel% (13.9%) and Exit Velocity (91.6 mph), just adding to the appeal. Obviously it was a small sample size, but given the production in the minors there’s hope.
Moving forward it will be interesting to see how the Twins handle their catching depth. Will Garver shift to another spot, or maybe be utilized at DH, in order to make room for Jeffers? It’s possible, though he doesn’t have much experience at other defensive spots at the Major League level. Nelson Cruz is a free agent so the DH spot could be open, but there’s always the chance he returns.
Maybe Minnesota trades from their depth, moving one of them in order to improve in another area. Or maybe they just enjoy the depth, giving protection in case of injury. Regardless Jeffers has quickly emerged as an intriguing option moving forward who could produce double-digit home runs along with a solid average.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball