The Minnesota Twins have signed a 24-year old pitcher with a 100 MPH fastball. The pitcher in question is Brandon Poulson, who was found playing collegiate summer league baseball for the Healdsburg Prune Packers. But how did the Twins find him? How does a pitcher with a 100 MPH fastball end up at Academy of Art University? It was a maturation process for Poulson, he played junior college baseball at Santa Rosa Junior College but was not spectacular and went undrafted.
Without being drafted, he joined his dad at the family business, John’s Excavating, where he planned to work out his days. The gamble of trying to be a pro athlete just wasn’t worth it. However, a change of heart and wondering what could be convinced him to give it another shot. The Twins learned of him from his recent season with Academy of Art University. A handful of scouts came out for the schools pro day and saw Poulson run a 6.60 60-yard dash in socks! But expectations were quickly tempered when they watched him throw. He did not have breaking stuff, his fastball was topping out at 91 and his mechanics were just plain bad. Each scout dismissed him and moved on.
In the summer, Poulson joined the Healdsburg Prune Packers and played for manager Joey Gomes, the brother of MLB player Johnny Gomes. This time the rumors began to spread, quietly but they were spreading about the kid with the cannon arm. But what changed?
He retooled his delivery and fixed the mechanical issues with pitching coach Caleb Balbuena. Poulson pitched 12+ innings over the summer with 31 strikeouts and four saves while bouncing back and forth between games and working at the excavating company. He also found something new with the change in his mechanics, a 100 MPH fastball.
The Twins were not the only MLB team that tracked the youngster with the 100 MPH fastball down. After all, it is the technology age and if you throw 100 MPH you will be found. The San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics and even the Philidelphia Phillies all had interest but it was the Twins and there $250,000 that won out.
According to Elliott Strankman, the Twins scout that found him, “He’s a physical specimen. He’s got the best pure arm strength I’ve ever seen,” Strankman continued to say,”It was a group effort. You just don’t see stuff like this every day. It’s one of those great days as a scout you hope you have every five years.”
He will be reporting to the Twins rookie team with a rough plan to use him as a reliever. If successful, a relief pitcher with a 100 MPH is definitely something the Twins would love to see at Target Field. Talk to scouts and they all have a story of the “kid plucked from nowhere.” Brandon Poulson is Strankman’s “kid from nowhere.” Will it work out? It is way too early to say. There will be more to follow in the days and months to come. Good luck Brandon, I hope to see you at Target Field soon.