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Twins Draft Report

By John Millea
June 4, 2002

MINNEAPOLIS--Last year, the Twins used the first overall pick in the draft to select hometown hero Joe Mauer. The talented catcher and quarterback also had a football scholarship offer from Florida State on the table, but the Twins correctly decided Mauer was signable.

In the 2002 draft, they also used their first-round pick (20th overall) to take another two-sport athlete, and again they are confident that he will continue his baseball career. Minnesota drafted Denard Span, a fleet-footed 18-year-old high school outfielder (and wide receiver) from Tampa's Catholic High.

Span is the first player from Hillsborough County to be picked in the first round since 1997, but the local pedigree is impressive. Past first-round selections from the county include Dwight Gooden, Gary Sheffield and Carl Everett.

The 6-1, 175-pound Span hit .490-0-20 with 17 doubles, three triples, 24 stolen bases and 33 runs scored in 28 games this spring. Span, who hits and throws lefthanded, helped Catholic win the 2001 Class AAA state championship in 2001. He was a Baseball America preseason high school All-American and was ranked the second-best player in Florida and the 20th-best overall. BA also rated him as the second-fastest high school baserunner and second-best prep defensive player.

After being named MVP of the Florida high school all-star game, Span was flown to Denver to work out for the Rockies, who had the ninth pick. He also worked out for the Marlins and Yankees. Span starred in football, and he said he wants to consider his options, whether to play college football or pro baseball.

The scouting report on Span: great, live, athletic body with bounce and glide to actions. Built similar to Reggie Sanders. Chokes up. Great acceleration. Compact stroke. Drives ball into gaps. Quick first step in the outfield. Can go gap to gap. Potential leadoff hitter. Exciting player.

"Denard is a premium player that we have followed very closely the last several years," Twins scouting director Mike Radcliff said. "He fills organizational needs and desires with his great speed, leadoff ability and offensive impact capabilities."

With the 61st overall pick, the Twins drafted University of Houston righthander Jesse Crain, who is 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds. He can throw a 94 mph tailing fastball along with a hard, sharp slider and an improving curveball. With the 92nd pick, the Twins grabbed high school righthander Mark Sauls from Bay High in Panama City, Fla. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Sauls is strong, durable and known as a competitor.

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