Twins thrilled to land Petty, Miller on Day 1

Hard-throwing RHP taken at No. 26 touches 102 mph; Prep SS caps Draft

July 12th, 2021

DENVER -- An organization that has traditionally been starved for top-tier velocity found one of the biggest fastballs of them all on Sunday night.

For the first time since 2015, the Twins selected a pitcher with their first pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, taking 18-year-old right-hander Chase Petty and his fastball touching 102 mph out of Mainland Regional High School in New Jersey at No. 26 overall.

Minnesota followed that up in Competitive Balance Round A at No. 36 with another high school selection in 18-year-old shortstop Noah Miller, from Ozaukee High School in Wisconsin, north of the Milwaukee area.

"I would say with both of our picks tonight, our group loved both players equally," Twins scouting director Sean Johnson said. "We wanted those players. It feels good to walk out of the room -- I know we have more work to do the next two days -- but getting two guys in the barn that you loved is a good feeling."

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Petty was ranked as the No. 27 prospect in the Draft by MLB Pipeline, and Johnson expressed confidence that the Twins will sign him away from his commitment to the University of Florida. The assigned slot value for the No. 26 selection is $2,653,400.

Considering his fastball consistently sits in the high 90s and touches 102, coupled with a slider and changeup that the Twins have seen him consistently command and throw for strikes, Johnson said the club was both surprised and excited that the flamethrower fell to them at No. 26.

Petty, who said he first threw 100 mph a year ago, said his work at the Baseball Performance Center facility, a tough weightlifting schedule, added weight and work on his mechanics helped him push his velocity over the top -- and the Twins think that where he's at right now is plenty. They also feel there's strong upside in both of his offspeed pitches, especially the slider.

"He’s thrown strikes for a year now, when we’ve seen him, both in short stints and even in his high school spring this year," Johnson said. "Our player development guys are super excited. He’s a good athlete, he’s a good mover. He does a lot of things we like."

He's got a big personality to match his huge fastball -- as shown when he crashed the post-selection interview of Marlins draftee Joe Mack on MLB Network -- and noted that he has relationships with fellow one-time New Jersey first-rounder Mike Trout and Marcus Stroman, one of his favorite pitchers. He's also thrown with No. 2 pick Jack Leiter (he insists that Leiter texted him, not the other way around) and got some pitching advice from Al Leiter.

Plus, he's not afraid to boast that he's getting dinner on Monday night with Fernando Tatís Jr. and Manny Machado, among others. (They share an agency.)

"You put that all together, and we thought we knew Chase and what he was all about with his competitiveness, his personality," Johnson said. "We dug through a lot of that stuff and we felt great about who he was as a kid."

Twins fans will just need to forgive him for growing up a Yankees fan.

The last time the Twins selected a pitcher with their first pick was in 2015, when they chose Tyler Jay out of the University of Illinois. In fact, Petty is only the second high school pitcher selected by Minnesota with its first pick of a Draft since 2000, joining right-hander Kohl Stewart, who was taken No. 4 overall in '13.

Johnson said the Twins were just as excited to snag Miller 10 picks later, noting that they believe he will hit -- and hit for power -- from both sides of the plate, leading them to think that he'll project well regardless of whether or not he sticks at shortstop in the long term.

At 6-feet, 185 pounds, Miller was ranked No. 62 on MLB Pipeline's prospect board. He's currently committed to the University of Alabama, but Johnson expressed confidence that he, too, will sign with the organization.

"One of our favorites," Johnson said. "You walk in the Draft room, and there's certain guys you don't want to miss out on. Noah Miller, past the first round, was a guy we did not want to miss on, and to get him today was a great feeling."

Miller, the younger brother of Cleveland shortstop Owen Miller, was described as more advanced than many of the collegiate players Johnson had seen, and the Twins believe his family connection fueled his competitive instincts on the field, too.

It's certainly unusual to see the Twins emerge from the first day of the Draft with two high school players in tow, but they're thrilled about their haul -- different as it may look from their track record.

"We’ve loved Chase Petty for a long time and we’ve had a crush on Noah Miller for a long time, too," Johnson said. "Like I said, walking out of the room with two guys you love is the feeling you want to have after Day One. And so our group in that room is thrilled."