Twins draft outfielder Kirilloff at 15th overall

Minnesota takes 4 high school position players on Day 1

Twins draft outfielder Kirilloff at 15th overall

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins went with a high school outfielder in the first round of Thursday's MLB Draft, as they selected Alex Kirilloff from Pittsburgh's Plum High School with the No. 15 overall pick.

Kirilloff, 18, has an unusual backstory, as he's home-schooled, taking classes with Pennsylvania Cyber School, a public charter school with online courses, while playing baseball at Plum High. Kirilloff, ranked as the No. 18 overall Draft prospect by MLBPipeline.com, is known for his advanced bat, as he's hitting .544/.645/1.000 with three homers and 23 RBIs in 19 games. He has 17 extra-base hits, 17 walks and has struck out once. He's committed to Liberty University, but his signability is not a concern.

Minnesota has $2.82 million available for its first pick.

"We like the pick," said Twins scouting director Deron Johnson, who compared Kirilloff to Miami's Christian Yelich. "Picking No. 15, he's a guy we targeted. We're happy as a group. The first thing is his swing. He's got a really good technical swing. He squares up every ball."

56th overall: Ben Rortvedt
73rd overall: Jose Miranda
74th overall: Akil Baddoo

The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at noon CT.

Kirilloff was invited to the MLB Draft headquarters in Secaucus, N.J., but declined because he wanted to host a draft party with his family, friends, coaches and teammates.

"It was kind of a surreal moment," he said. "When they called my name, everyone went nuts. It was a great moment. It's been a great day so far. I'm excited for what the future holds."

Kirilloff discusses his journey

The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder also plays first base, but is expected to play outfield, as Johnson said Kirilloff possesses plus-speed and a good arm, as he was clocked around 90 mph off the mound as a pitcher. He also has good bloodlines, considering his father, Dave Kirilloff, was a scout with the Pirates and a coach at various levels.

"Baseball is something that was instilled in me by my dad at a very young age," Kirilloff said. "My whole life he's owned an indoor training facility. So to have that accessible to me for any time I wanted to train has been great. It's been a key part of my development."

The Twins began scouting Kirilloff last year, and were impressed by what they saw from him in showcases last summer, as there were questions about the quality of the competition he was facing in high school. He won the 2015 Perfect Game All-American Classic Home Run Challenge, hitting 34 homers, including 12 in the finals at Petco Park.

"He takes competitive at-bats, even against advanced pitching," Johnson said. "It's a little difficult to evaluate players in the league he plays in but following him in the summer against better pitching, it made our evaluation that much easier."

Johnson speaks on Draft pick

He's the first high school outfielder taken by the Twins since drafting Byron Buxton with the No. 2 overall pick in 2012. He's also the first player to be drafted from the Pittsburgh area in the first round since Neil Walker in 2004. He was recommended by Twins scout Jay Wietzel, and Kirilloff's adviser is former Twins player Jeff Randazzo.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.