With the 54th pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, the Twins select:
Matt Canterino, RHP, Rice
MLB Pipeline Grades, 46th Overall Prospect
Fastball: 55 | Slider: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50
Fangraphs Future Grades, 109th Overall Prospect
Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Command: 50 | Future Value: 40
Matt Canterino has been a very productive starter for three years in college ball, throwing between 94-99.1 innings every year and striking out at least 111 batters every year (increasing by 5 K’s every year, too). His command has improved every year as well. That sort of trend is always a good thing to see as the player gets older.
He has a solid pitcher frame, standing 6’3” 222lbs. He has a funky delivery. Go look it up, I can’t explain it. He has a weird “pump” thing he does that is bizarre to say the least. But he comes from a high three-quarter arm slot that gives him a lot of downward plane on his pitches, which is the new trend in scouting preference.
Canterino sits 90-93 and can hit 96, and maybe Wes Johnson can pump his velocity a bit. He also has a mid-80s slider as well as an upper-70’s knuckle curve with downward movement that both project to be above average pitches, although Fangraphs didn’t see the slider. Both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America say that he could have above average control with 4 usable pitches, making him a solid option as a high-floor starting pitcher even with that weird delivery.
To be completely honest I had no idea that the Twins were in on Canterino, but there is a lot to like. He has been a workhorse starter in college and his improved every single year. He has two good breaking balls and a fastball that could improve with the help of our pitching coach guru, Wes Johnson.
The way that college pitchers work is that unless they are selected in the first 20 picks, they have the ceiling of a number-3 starter and the floor of a decent reliever. Kyle Gibson fit that exact profile as a late 1st round pick, and what do you know, he is a #3 starter. So picking Canterino in the second round makes more sense to me that picking a college pitcher in the Competitive Balance Round A.
Having thrown so many innings in his last three years, overuse is an issue, as college coaches generally let their pitchers throw 110+ pitchers far to often. But Kyle Gibson had Tommy John surgery after turning pro and still turned into a solid pitcher. Canterino could also turn into a solid reliever with those 3 above-average pitchers. The Twins selected Cole Sands in the 5th round last year. He didn’t pitch in rookie ball in 2018, but he started the season in Single-A Cedar Rapids this year and is already with High-A Fort Myers. I could see a similar path for Canterino here.
Canterino does not improve our pitching depth in the way that a first round pick would have. But he still adds depth and has that combination of high floor but worthwhile ceiling that makes him a worthwhile prospect and a solid contributor that could move through the system fairly quickly.