By Allan Simpson
August 15, 2002
The ranks of unsigned first-round picks from this year’s draft was reduced by one today as the Twins announced the signing of Tampa high school outfielder Denard Span, the 20th overall selection. Span agreed to a 2003 contract that provides for a $1.7 million bonus.
The Twins and Span’s advisor, Joe Urbon, had been negotiating on a contract all summer before finally agreeing to terms just before Span was scheduled to enroll at the University of Florida.
“This was one of those negotiations that never got negative at any point,” Twins scouting director Mike Radcliff told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “He had to think through all the things he needed to. Good players are worth the effort and we are glad to have it done. Sure, you are disappointed that it takes that long, but it is all part of the process.”
Span’s signing left the number of unsigned first-rounders at eight, with four of the top five picks still unsigned, including No. 1 overall pick Bryan Bullington (Pirates).
Minnesota, which was one of several clubs that indicated earlier that it planned to pull offers off the table to a number of its top draft picks as a means of cutting costs in the event of a work stoppage, has now signed 10 of its top 20 picks.
The Twins have indicated they will still try and sign three top high school players: third-round pick Mark Sauls, a righthander from Panama City, Fla., who has committed to Florida State; fifth-round pick Clete Thomas, an outfielder from Lynn Haven, Fla., who has committed to Auburn; and 12th-round pick Jeff Clement, a record-breaking catcher from Marshalltown, Iowa, who has committed to Southern California.
Clement broke the national high school career record for home runs this summer, when he finished with 75.