Anchors’ Farfan taken by Twins in MLB draft
Onas Farfan’s journey in baseball has taken him from his roots in Venezuela to Robbinsdale’s Cooper High School to Ridgewater College and to two different stops in the Northwoods League.
Next up, the Minnesota Twins.
The Twins drafted the Ridgewater lefthander with their 21st-round pick, 620th overall, in the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft on Saturday.
Farfan said he still can’t believe he was drafted, especially by his hometown team.
“Nothing was guaranteed, I was just hoping,” he said. “I’ve been working so hard for it. I’m so happy to represent Ridgewater and Willmar.”
Playing summer ball for the Alexandria Blue Anchors, Farfan pitched six strong innings Friday night to beat the Willmar Stingers at Bill Taunton Stadium. The Twins drafted him the very next morning.
“Our (Saturday) game got cancelled,” he said. “I got back to my host family and had a couple hours to chill. I turned on my phone and, literally, after two picks, I heard my name. I was jumping up and down and crying. It was something I can’t even explain.”
Farfan, who pitched 36.1 innings with a 2.97 earned run average for the Warriors, had two workouts for the Twins this spring.
The first came at Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall last month, which the Twins attended along with the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers and Miami Marlins.
Two weeks ago, the Twins invited him back for a private workout at Target Field.“I did my bullpen session there, but you never know,” he said. “They just tell you good luck. I knew I was good enough and I did my best in front of the scouts, but it was a surprise. I had no clue I was going to get drafted.”
Farfan was born in St. Paul, moved to Venezuela when he was 8 years old to live with his parents, and moved back to Minnesota at age 16 to attend Cooper High School and play in the Twins’ Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program.
It was there that he caught the eye of Ridgewater head coach Dennis Boe, who is also an associate scout for the Twins.
“I knew of him when we had him at a workout a couple years ago,” Boe said. “We knew we had something there. My supervisor (Twins’ scout) Mark Wilson and I talked about putting a package together to keep him in the area. We had an idea we might be able to hide him.”
Farfan didn’t pitch much as a freshman but made improvements in his game under Boe.
“He got some work in and got his velocity up,” Boe said. “From there we got him into the Northwoods League last year when he pitched for La Crosse and he did really well.”
Boe said his fastball velocity climbed to 90-91 mph and his changeup improved while with the Loggers.
“The fastball has natural movement,” Boe said. “He throws a changeup that is a really different kind of changeup that took him about two years to learn. It’s very, very good and sits at about 79-80 miles per hour. Everybody thinks it’s his curveball but it’s his changeup, it has really a lot of sink. We dropped his curveball and started putting in his slider and it became really effective. Those are his three main pitches.”
Farfan said pitching for the Warriors was a great experience.
“I love Ridgewater, a little (NJCAA) Division III community college, and I’m proud of coming there,” he said.
He’s the second Warrior drafted and the first since righthander Mathias Butala in 1985.
The Cincinnati Reds took Butala in the sixth round of the January phase of the 1985 draft (back when the draft had a January phase), but he never threw a pitch in the Reds’ system.
The Warriors have had three other alumni play professionally — Brad Skoglund, Dane Kallevig and Dave Burkholder — but Skoglund and Kallevig signed as undrafted free agents, and Burkholder transferred and was drafted out of the NAIA’s Grand View University in Des Moines.
Boe said Farfan has the drive to get to the major leagues.
“It’s up to him now,” Boe said. “We did the work getting him there and drafting him. He’s just so happy that he got drafted and that he got drafted by the Twins.”
Farfan will fly to Florida on Thursday to take a physical and fill out paperwork.
“I believe Thursday will be the signing day, and I’m going to sign,” Farfan said. “It’s my home state. I’m a Twins fan. I grew up watching Kirby Puckett, Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Torii Hunter. I would love to be a part of them and make the big leagues.”