Making the right pitch: Southwest Covenant graduate Josh McMinn ponders decision to turn professional after being drafted by Minnesota Twins

Like all college pitchers, Josh McMinn knows that success both now and in the future rests with timing and location.

That’s why the Oral Roberts University right-hander has yet to sign a professional contract despite being picked in the recent Major League Baseball Draft by the Minnesota Twins.

“I have considered coming back for my junior year at Oral Roberts but I have not officially said no to the Twins yet. It’s still up in the air and it really depends on how the summer goes,” said McMinn.

McMinn graduated from Southwest Covenant School but played baseball from the seventh grade through his senior year at Union City as part of a co-op agreement between the Canadian County schools. He earned All-State accolades as part of the Tigers program.

Following a successful sophomore year at Oral Roberts, McMinn was picked on the third day of the recent MLB Draft by the Twins in the 36th round with the 1,066 overall pick.

“The negotiations remain open but I’m confident that I will be coming back to Oral Roberts. I think I can improve my draft stock if I can do well,” said McMinn.

McMinn said he can see the benefits of staying another year on the college level after pitching against players like Oklahoma State standout Garrett Benge in the recent NCAA regional in Arkansas.

“I’ve learned a lot from my freshman year playing against players like Benge and Jake Barger and all those guys. I’ve learned you’ve got to find ways to learn from your mistakes and find ways to get outs. If you can’t get those batters out, then you are not doing anyone any good. That’s what it all goes back to,” said McMinn.

Benge turned down his first pro contract out of junior college to play for the Cowboys. Benge’s stock increased over two years in Stillwater and he was taken in the 13th round of this season’s draft by the Red Sox.

Barger played third base for Missouri State and was chosen as the 11th pick overall in the draft by the Chicago White Sox.

“The Twins are the only team that can sign me this year but if I come back to ORU, then another team can draft me next June.

“Basically it comes down to me coming back for another season. I had good numbers all season, but I was never really happy with how I pitched or that I was pitching up to my potential. I felt like I had more success in our scrimmages than I did in the season,” said McMinn.

He said he is leaving the door open with the Twins until after the summer season in the Cape Cod League. He is pitching for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.

The Cape Cod League is made up of 10 teams and is part of the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball.

McMinn has already gotten off to a fast start with Yarmouth-Dennis, picking up the win in his first outing. He threw six innings against the Orleans Firebirds, allowing two earned runs on four hits and a walk, while striking out five batters.

McMinn said he’s not set a level of success which would sway his decision one way or another as far as returning to Tulsa or not.

“We have not talked in-depth on that. We will just keep watching things this summer,” said McMinn.

The Twins took notice of McMinn after a 9-3 sophomore season with Oral Roberts where he earned All-Summit League First Team honors. He threw a total of 91 innings in 16 appearances.

The right-hander allowed 32 runs, 25 earned, off 86 hits and 30 walks. He struck out 75 batters to close the season with an average of seven strikeouts for every nine innings pitched.

McMinn carried a 2.47 earned run average for the Golden Eagles, while sporting a fielding percentage of .938 after logging four put-outs and 11 assists.

He had a solid no-decision effort in the win over the Big 12 Champion Cowboys in the NCAA regional, pitching 4 2/3 innings. He allowed four hits and four walks and struck out three batters, with 61 of his 102 pitches finding the strike zone.

Despite the success, McMinn felt it could have been a better year.

“All year I struggled with my breaking balls and that led to fewer swings and led to fewer strikeouts. I have been working with the breaking ball command and its location. That’s what I need to work on,” said McMinn.

Despite pitching this summer some 1,600 miles from Tulsa, McMinn said he is working with Oral Roberts pitching coach Sean Snedeker and the staff of the Red Sox.

“We (McMinn and Snedeker) talk about what I need to work on and then to make sure I talk with the pitching coach up here (Massachusetts) all the time and let him know what I’m doing,” said McMinn.

He’s also talked with his former high school coach Ludy Griggs.

“After we lost to Arkansas in the regional, I was in Oklahoma City and I needed to throw a bullpen and he (Griggs) allowed me to come out to Union City and throw over that five-day break.

“I told him what I was working on with some of my mechanics and he was helping me with that. That’s what it takes to be a better pitcher, getting information from everyone and then working that into getting people out,” said McMinn.

McMinn credits Griggs for getting him to this point.

“In the seventh grade, if he would have not accepted us to play we would have never had baseball (at SWCS) and I would have never gotten the chance to play baseball. His input means a lot,” said McMinn.

Griggs, who was a former MLB scout himself, said McMinn is in a unique situation.

“He’s a smart kid and understands the process. He’s got a lot of opportunities over the next two years and one of those years he’s got some leverage. I kind of just picked his brain and asked what he was thinking.

“I didn’t try to influence him at all. I just want him to be happy with his choices. I told him I would always be his baseball coach and he could call me anytime he needed, but now I’m just a part of his fan base,” said Griggs.

Griggs said pitching in the Cape Cod League was a wise choice.

“He will see quality hitters every day because that is the premiere college league. He wanted to see how he would do against those types of hitters and if he could have success. It will help him later on if he does,” said Griggs.

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