Earlier this month, 24-year-old pitcher Brandon Poulson was pitching for the Healdsburg Prune Packers in a collegiate summer league, managed by Joey Gomes — brother of former Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes.
Just a few weeks later, the Twins are about to hand him $250,000.
Despite the fact that the hurler was never drafted, a pitching repertoire that includes a fastball that can hit 100 mph was reason enough for Minnesota to offer Poulson about 10 times more than the average undrafted player would earn as a bonus.
“It’s a great story,” said Twins West Coast scouting supervisor Sean Johnson on Tuesday. “This kid came out of nowhere.”
Poulson last pitched for the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where he posted an 8.38 ERA after taking a few years off from baseball while working as a truck driver for his father’s excavating company.
“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.
Poulson, who struck out an incredible 31 batters in just 12 1/3 innings this summer, has displayed an incredible set of physical tools. The 6-foot-6, 240-pounder ran a 60-yard dash in 6.6 seconds while recording a 40-inch vertical leap.
“He’s a physical specimen. He’s got the best pure arm strength I’ve ever seen,” said Twins scout Elliott Strankman, adding: “We’re cautiously optimistic because we don’t want to put a bunch of pressure on the kid. He could be pretty good. This is uncharted territory for us.”
Poulson is headed to the Twins’ rookie team in the Appalachian League in Elizabethton, Tennessee.
“I’m excited,” Poulson said, adding that his first purchase will be a therapy device for his diabetic father. “I know it’s just the first step of what the real goal is to make it in the bigs.”