13. Terrin Vavra (450 points, 30 ballots)
Colorado’s 3rd round pick in the 2018 draft was Terrin Vavra, a middle infielder who earned first team All-America honors at the University of Minnesota thanks to a splendid .386/.455/.664 batting line. It was a validating season for the 6’1” lefty hitter, who had been stricken by a stress fracture in his back his first two collegiate seasons, and it was enough to get him ranked as the #129 prospect in the draft by MLB.com. The Rockies took Vavra, who comes from a baseball family that includes his father Joe, an MLB quality control coach, 96th overall and signed him for $550k.
With the profile of an advanced college hitter, it’s no surprise that the Rockies assigned Vavra to Single Season A Boise in the pitcher-friendly Northwest League, where Vavra was of league average age. In 199 plate appearances with Boise, Vavra continued the success he’d enjoyed in college with a very strong .302/.396/.467 line with 16 extra base hits and 9 steals. In that tough environment, that equated to an impressive 142 wRC+. Vavra walked in 13% of PAs while striking out in 20%, and in a small sample size of 34 ABs he had a 1.088 OPS against left-handed pitching. Defensively, the Rockies had Vavra split time between shortstop, his college position, and second base, with more reps (and 10 of his 11 errors) coming at short.
There’s not much video on Vavra, but here’s him starring for Minnesota in the NCAA tournament:
2080 Baseball had a blurb on Vavra in their draft preview:
Vavra has been the catalyst the best team in the Big Ten Conference, slashing .385/.458/.620 and leading the Gophers with 10 homeruns. A polished hitter, Vavra controls the strike zone well, having drawn nearly twice as many walks (29) as strikeouts (17). He’ll likely be given the chance to stick shortstop, but limited range and arm strength may necessitate a move to second base.
Vavra finally is showing what he’s capable of offensively now that he’s fully healthy. He makes repeated line-drive contact with ease, thanks to his smooth left-handed stroke and advanced approach. He also has some sneaky raw power and could hit 15 homers per season as a pro.
Scouts rave about Vavra’s baseball IQ and makeup as much as his tools. He’s just an average runner out of the batter’s box but is quicker underway and his instincts help him make things happen on the bases and in the field. He doesn’t have the plus range and arm teams want at shortstop, so he might wind up as an offensive second baseman.
In that evaluation, Vavra is awarded a 55 hit grade, paired with 45 and 50 grades elsewhere. Given that profile and the higher-likelihood of the 21-year old maximizing his potential given his background, that sounds like a player with a big league future to me. Even if that future is more Pat Valaika than Troy Tulowitzki, it’s still a nice profile at this stage in his development, and it’s a good outlook for a 3rd round pick.
At this point, it seems like Vavra seems primed to follow the Garrett Hampson fast track to the major leagues (both the position and draft round are identical, though the profile is not), with an assignment at High A to begin 2019 a possibility. He’ll be racing against first round pick Ryan Rolison to be the first from the 2018 draft class to the big leagues. I placed Vavra 16th on my personal ballot with a 40 Future Value grade as an advanced hitter with plus make-up who has a high floor.