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Trevor Larnach of the Twins is working hard to gain a foothold in the big leagues

SEATTLE – Trevor Larnach, a former first-round pick, felt like he was at a pivotal point in his career this offseason. He was left off the Twins’ 2023 postseason roster and fell behind other corner outfielders in the team’s rankings.

Whether his future lay with the Twins or another team, he knew he had to play better. He had only had minor success in the major leagues.

“There is nothing more frustrating,” Larnach said, “than achieving your dream and then watching it slip away without knowing why.”

Larnach decided he needed to make some changes during the offseason. He switched agents and joined the Bledsoe Agency, which operates a training facility for its clients outside of Nashville. Larnach, a native of the Bay Area in California, decided to change the fundamentals of his batting stance and work on swinging without stepping forward.

He remembers walking into the Nashville facility for the first time and thinking, “Oh man, I hope I made the right decision.”

“It was definitely a leap of faith, dude,” Larnach said. “What I love about them is they don’t work with people outside the agency. You have to be committed to the agency to work there. … That was exactly my work environment. It reminded me a lot of college. People who are on the same page, trying to work hard and achieve their goals.”

Larnach, 27, has become a regular against right-handed pitchers, splitting his time between left field and designated hitter while playing with a turf toe in his right foot. He entered Saturday night’s game in Seattle with an offensive output that’s about league average (.720 OPS). He had a .297 on-base percentage with seven home runs, seven doubles and 25 RBIs in 48 games.

There are metrics that paint Larnach as one of the league’s unluckiest players in terms of the hardness with which he hits the ball. His average exit velocity is 92.4 mph — StatCast ranks 95 mph as a hard-hit ball — which puts him in the 92nd percentile in the major leagues. He’s cut his strikeout rate nearly in half from last year, but his batting average on balls in play is .268, which is nearly 40 points below his career average.

“That doesn’t make it easy,” said Larnach. “Ultimately, it’s all about production up here.”

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli added: “It can be frustrating when you’re doing everything you can and hitting the ball all over the park and not getting a hit. I think he’s in a good position and doing exactly what we want him to do. Keep hitting the ball like that and there’s always going to be some really positive things happening.”

Larnach planned to carry his no-stride swing into the season, but of course he added a small step in spring training. He now has more control over his body, allowing him to wait a split second longer on shots, which in turn has reduced his swings and misses.

Part of Larnach’s batting practice routine involves starting with medium-powered line drives to the opposite field, sometimes his first 15-20 swings. It’s something Larnach adopted after spending some time in the offseason working with Torii Hunter and Matt Kemp in Texas at the invitation of Royce Lewis.

“I’ve been doing the whole pull-side home run thing for the last three years,” Larnach said. “I’ve found that it moves my contact point up further. I’m already pretty good with the fastball, I think. When I do that in a controlled environment, it moves my contact point outward and I have less of a chance of hitting something slower in the other direction.”

The scouting report against Larnach over the past three seasons was to pressure him with slower pitches. Each year, less than half of the pitches he saw were fastballs.

“It was frustrating because I wasn’t fooled,” said Larnach, the No. 20 overall pick in the 2018 draft out of Oregon State. “I was pretty sure they were going to do that. When I knew that stuff was coming, I still couldn’t hit it. … Believe me, I’ve done a lot of things in the past that I potentially could have done to prevent that. It takes time and understanding.”

The Twins initially viewed Larnach as a reserve option at the start of the season, behind fellow left-handed hitters and former first-round picks Matt Wallner and Alex Kirilloff. There wasn’t even much competition in spring training.

However, that wasn’t the only reason he felt the need to make changes in the offseason.

“The guys come in and do well, and they deserve it,” he said. “I wasn’t just thinking about my time here. I was thinking about my entire career.”

The Twins expect Larnach’s luck to change. He has too much hard contact not to have better numbers at some point.

Now that Larnach is back in the major leagues and getting another chance, he is showing that his offseason changes are paying off for him.

“It’s not that I wanted to change agencies – that’s a difficult thing,” Larnach said. “You build a bond. You work with these people. I was at a point where I was 26, 27. I had to adapt.”

“It’s a tough thing, but you have to take risks. I’m grateful.”

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