Twins Buy Into Andrew Bechtold's Bat
When Twins scouts and data analysts gathered to pool their information on draft prospects in May, they made a discovery that didn’t surprise Mike Radcliff at all: Everyone in the room believed Andrew Bechtold will someday be a good major league player, and possibly more.
"He’s got a swing approach that the data guys love—launch angle, exit velocity, all the analytics,” said Radcliff, the vice president for player personnel. "A scout’s eyeball sees bat speed and directness to the ball, and a keen sense of plate discipline. When all the reports came together, this guy checked every box.”
It was just a matter of deciding how long to wait to select the third baseman, who had transferred from Maryland, after a broken hand cost him playing time, to Chipola (Fla.) JC, where he helped win the national junior college championship at a school where big leaguers like Jose Bautista and Russell Martin had preceded him. The Twins sweated out four rounds before deciding they couldn’t wait any longer.
They made Bechtold the first pick of round five, knowing that he had committed to Louisiana State for the fall. An offer of $600,000—or more than $220,000 over his slot assignment—convinced the 21-year-old to turn pro, which delighted the Twins’ front office.
"He was a personal favorite of mine this spring. He really played well,” Radcliff said. "I have a lot of belief there’s a bat here. He’s got a chance to have a real impact in a few years.”
Bechtold already has started hitting, albeit at Rookie-level Elizabethton. He hit .298/.407/.426 with two home runs through 42 games in the Appalachian League.
The Twins believe Bechtold will remain at third base, which is not a position of great depth in the system.
"He’s a former shortstop, and you can see that athletic ability in him," Radcliff said of the 6-foot-1, 185-pound athlete. "He probably could still play short, but he’s pretty likely to grow into his body a little more. He’s really lean, but he’s getting stronger.
"We see a lot of potential there, and it’s semi-untapped right now. When you take what our scouts say, and add in all the new statistical information, you’ve got a lot of people enthusiastic about his future.”