CLEVELAND, Ohio — Drew Gilbert and Will Frisch have been playing baseball together since they were young. They quickly became good friends, playing alongside each other in Stillwater, even committing to the same college — Oregon State.
Wednesday, in the final day of the MLB Draft, the two Stillwater Ponies were drafted within about 20 minutes of each other by the home-state Twins. Gilbert, a lefty, was drafted in the 35th round while Frisch, a righty, was the team’s selection in the 36th round.
“They were like ‘Hey, we’re going to pick one of you guys near the end of the draft just kind of as an acknowledgement for your achievements.’ … And they ended up picking us both,” Frisch said.
Each found out via a phone call from area scout Joe Bisenius.
“Just growing up a Twins fan my entire life, it was definitely something I always dreamed about,” Gilbert said. “It’s a big honor, and I can’t thank the Twins enough.”
Both still appear headed to Corvallis, Ore., to play for Oregon State, a perennial powerhouse. Gilbert said his mindset this year was that unless “something major,” happened, he had a strong commitment to the school.
“I got a few offers for dollar amounts near the top part of the draft, ‘Hey would you take this much to sign you away from Oregon State?’ I was like ‘No, I think it would take more.’ So, they kind of just took me off their radar,” Frisch said. “I pretty much knew going into the draft that I was going to be going to Oregon State.”
First, they still have a state tournament to play in. Stillwater rallied for a 3-2 victory in eight innings over Woodbury on Tuesday night to win the Section 4AAAA championship and seal a spot in the Class 4A state field, where the Ponies are the defending champions. Gilbert gave up two unearned runs on one hit in eight innings while walking five and striking out 14.
In all, the Twins drafted four Minnesotans. Matt Wallner, a right fielder from Forest Lake playing at Mississippi State, was taken 39th overall. Louie Varland, a pitcher from Maplewood, was taken in the 15th round out of Concordia-St. Paul.
“We feel honored to be able to select them. It’s kind of a longstanding tradition,” scouting director Sean Johnson said. “We’re proud of our backyard and the players that come out of this state.”
The Twins primarily went college-heavy in the draft, though their first-round pick, Keoni Cavaco, was a high school infielder from California. Of their 41 selections, 33 were collegians. They selected 19 right-handed pitchers, four left-handed pitchers, 12 infielders, four outfielders and a pair of catchers.
“As far as the players we got, we felt really good about the guys we got on all three days. We’ve got some depth, we hit that college infielder board pretty good yesterday, and we’re excited about a lot of those players,” Johnson said. “Day three, we took a ton of pitching early on, and that was more of an organizational need to fill in some holes there. Also, we think those guys are going to be potential upgrades for our system.”
Four Gophers selected
Four Gophers — pitchers Brett Schulze, Jake Stevenson and Nick Lackney — and catcher Eli Wilson were also selected in the draft.
Schulze went in the seventh round to the Phillies while Lackney was a Phillies 18th round pick. Stevenson went in the 10th round to the Reds while Wilson was picked by the Pirates in the 16th round.
Speaking of draft picks, 2018 Twins first-rounder Trevor Larnach was named the Florida State League Player of the Month in May after leading the league in average (.371), hits (36), OBP (.456) and OPS (1.075), among other things.
Larnach, an outfielder, is slashing .312/.386/.488 with five home runs and 33 RBIs through 54 games at Class A Advanced Fort Myers. Larnach went 3 for 3 with two doubles and two runs RBIs and two walks Wednesday against the Florida Fire Frogs.