MINNEAPOLIS -- Keoni Cavaco could hardly sleep Sunday night, June 2, kept up waiting and anticipating his big day -- a day he knew would change his life.
As the anticipation built, the day seemed to drag on for him, but finally, Monday night, his future crystallized when the Minnesota Twins made Cavaco, an 18-year-old infielder from Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, Calif., the No. 13 pick in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft.
“When the day started, I was excited and I just wanted this time to come quick. The beginning of the day felt long,” he said. “And then coming into the draft, it seemed to take longer, but now that it’s done, I’m excited.”
And the Twins are, too.
Cavaco started garnering more attention last fall. Twins scouting director Sean Johnson said the infielder was not at most of the events that they typically attend, and the Twins really became interested in him last fall and have been following him ever since.
The Twins were among the teams that saw Cavaco play at the Angel Elite showcase this fall at Angel Stadium. In his first at-bat, he said, he hit a ball off the rocks in left-center field.
“That’s when it started getting real and I knew I had to put in work to get to this point,” he said.
Teams started coming to him at once, which he said was overwhelming at first but then an enjoyable process that he had fun with throughout his senior season.
“We went to most of his games this spring just trying to get caught up to see him in games, in game setting. Much like Royce Lewis was in the spring, the more we kept going, the more we kept seeing things that we liked.”
Cavaco is the second high-school infielder that chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, general manager Thad Levine and scouting director Sean Johnson have selected in the first round in three years. The trio selected Lewis, a shortstop, out of a California high school and Trevor Larnach, a college bat in the first round last year.
The 18-year-old said he tries to model his game after the Cubs’ Javy Baez. He said he could see himself playing shortstop, and Johnson said he had a chance to “maybe stay at shortstop,” though it sounds like the Twins view him more as a third baseman.
“I think upside is the right word to use here,” Johnson said. “He’s got electric bat speed. We think he’s going to have home run power and he’s one of the best third basemen I’ve seen in the high school ranks in my time in scouting. … We think he’ll be a high-end third baseman.”
The 6’1″, 180-pound Cavaco became the first first-round selection from Eastlake High School since Adrian Gonzalez was selected first overall by the Marlins in 2000. He celebrated his selection on Monday night among friends and family.
Soon, it sounds, he will head off to pro ball. Johnson said the Twins are confident that they will get an agreement done with their first rounder and from Cavaco’s words, it sounds like he is too. He said he is looking “get into the system as soon as possible,” which would mean forgoing college ball at San Diego State, where he had committed.
“Getting picked in the first round is probably every kid’s dream when they grow up playing baseball,” Cavaco said. “I’ve been working hard ever since last fall to get to this point and now that I’m here, I don’t know. I have no words to express it. I’m just excited to start playing pro ball.”