Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Twins Take a Gamble

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Twins Take a Gamble

Article excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO * In one of their craziest scouting experiences, the Minnesota Twins have reached a deal with a 24-year-old pitching prospect who has thrown 100 mile per hour fastballs but has never been drafted.

Brandon Poulson was pitching earlier this month for the Healdsburg Prune Packers in a collegiate summer league. His manager was Joey Gomes, the brother of big leaguer Jonny Gomes.

Now, the Twins are about to give him $250,000.

"It's a great story," Twins West Coast scouting supervisor Sean Johnson said Tuesday. "This kid came out of nowhere."

The Twins knew about Poulson from his recent season with Academy of Art University, where he had an 8.38 ERA for the San Francisco school.

Poulson played there after taking a couple of years off to work in his father's business "John's Excavating" with the thought he'd take it over someday and leave athletics behind for good.

The 6-foot-6 righthander previously played baseball and football at Santa Rosa Junior College.

"I played for the Prune Packers summer of '13, but missed nearly three-fourths of the games because I was busy working," said Poulson, who didn't make his high school baseball team as a freshman.

The Twins are giving him about 10 times more than an undrafted player would typically receive as a bonus. Poulson will begin as a reliever.

Poulson traveled to Minneapolis last week to undergo a physical at Target Field before returning to California, then was cleared Tuesday. He was set to travel Wednesday to the Twins' rookie club in the Appalachian League in Elizabethton, Tenn.

Poulson will sign his contract once he reports. He could pitch in a game as soon as this weekend.

Until last fall, Poulson was operating heavy machinery driving 18-wheelers, front-loaders and backhoes. All the while, he played baseball in a Sunday night men's league, fittingly called the "Wine Country" league.

"I went to work with my father and didn't want to gamble with sports anymore," Poulson said.

He later changed his mind and decided to give baseball one last chance, spending months retooling his delivery with Prune Packers pitching coach Caleb Balbuena. …

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