Thursday, July 31, 2014

Brandon Poulson

This is the stuff movies are made of. The Minnesota Twins have signed Brandon Poulson, a 24-year-old pitching prospect who can hurl 100 mph fastballs but has never been drafted.

''You just don't see stuff like this every day,'' Twins scout Elliott Strankman told the Associated Press. ''It's one of those great days as a scout you hope you have every five years.''

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

At Academy of Art's scout day last fall, Strankman witnessed Poulson sprint the 60-yard dash in 6.6 seconds flat . . . wearing just socks. He also showed off a 40-inch vertical leap.

''I had cold legs,'' Poulson told AP. ''Maybe I would have run it faster.''

The 6-foot-6, 240-pound right hander had joined the Academy of Art team after taking a couple years off (before that, he'd played baseball and football at Santa Rosa Junior College), working in his father's excavating business — driving 18-wheelers, front-loaders and backhoes — with the idea that he'd take over the trade someday.

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

He later changed his mind and spent months working on his hurling technique with Healdsburg Prune Packers pitching coach Caleb Balbuena in the collegiate summer league.

Poulson's stats this summer: 31 strikeouts and just six hits allowed in 12 1-3 innings, with four saves in 12 appearances.

It was at the Prune Packers game on July 15 that Twins scout Strankman decided to go see Poulson pitch. It took all of 18 throws to convince him that this guy was the real deal.

''He's a physical specimen. He's got the best pure arm strength I've ever seen,'' Strankman told AP.

Two days later, Poulson signed with the Twins, despite also drawing interest from the San Francisco Giants, the Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners and Philadelphia Phillies. Ultimately, the teams didn't have enough money left in their draft pool to match Minnesota's $250,000 — about 10 times more than an undrafted player would typically receive.

Poulson said one of his first purchases will be a therapy device to help his father with his diabetes.

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