Twins grab prep slugger Harrison at No. 50
Club projects third baseman to one day hit in middle of order
MINNEAPOLIS -- In a collegiate showcase at Tropicana Field, Travis Harrison once hit a ball that traveled 504 feet. He hopes to improve on that one day.
With the 50th pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, the Twins selected Harrison, a third baseman from Tustin High School in Tustin, Calif. The pick was a compensatory selection that the Twins received after losing second baseman Orlando Hudson to free agency. The club also selected North Carolina shortstop Levi Michael with its top pick at No. 30 and grabbed right-hander Hudson Boyd from Bishop Verot High School in Florida with the 55th pick.
Harrison was projected in some mock drafts as a late first-round pick, and was considered by the Twins as the best bat on the board at that point in the draft.
"Big, strong right-handed hitting third baseman," said Twins scouting director Deron Johnson. "We really like his bat. He's a big kid and right-handed power is really hard to get in the draft."
Harrison, who was a 2011 Preseason Rawlings First-Team All-American, is committed to play for the University of Southern California and said he was unsure if he would sign with the Twins or pursue a collegiate career. He batted .486 with 13 home runs during his senior season.
While he can put on a show during batting practice with his power, Harrison considers himself more of a well-rounded hitter.
"I really see myself as an all-around hitter," Harrison said. "I consider myself a power hitter, but I also consider myself a hitter for average."
The question mark for Harrison is on defense. Johnson said he sees Harrison as either a left fielder or third baseman at the next level, with the former being more likely than the latter.
Harrison said he plans to continue working at third base until someone tells him to move to another position.
Regardless of where he fits on the diamond, the Twins think Harrison can eventually anchor the middle of their lineup.
"We're buying a bat there," Johnson said. "Buying a middle-of-the-lineup type bat. A potential four- or five-hole hitter."
Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft resumes at 11 a.m. CT Tuesday on MLB.com, where fans will receive exclusive coverage of Days 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player.
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.