Tampa Twosome Teams Up Again With Twins

FORT MYERS, Fla.—Over the years, dozens of talented prospects have opted for careers in professional football instead of baseball. But if the 2015 Twins feature a pair of high school teammates in their lineup, they may have football icons to thank for it.

Former NFL all-pro linebacker Derrick Brooks, along with the family of former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo, founded a small charter high school in Tampa that focuses on helping teens become better prepared for post-secondary education. The school is too small to field a football team—but it offers baseball.

The Twins reaped the benefits last June, drafting both shortstop JaDamion "J.D." Williams and outfielder Kelvin Mention from Brooks-Debartolo High's graduating class.

"It's fairly unique to draft two guys from one team, especially a school that's only been around three years," senior vice president for player personnel Mike Radcliff said. "They have different skill sets, different tools, but both have the profiles to develop into real interesting guys."

A 10th-round selection, Williams went four spots ahead of brother Reggie Jr., a Middle Georgia JC outfielder drafted by the Cardinals. The 19-year-old Mention lasted until the 36th round, but only because he appeared headed to college.

"Mention has a strong, compact build, but he's really strong and has a plus arm," Radcliff said. "He doesn't have a long background in baseball, but he projects as a good hitter."

Son of former Angels and Dodgers outfielder Reggie Williams Sr., the 20-year-old J.D. "is a premium athlete—he looks like a running back," Radcliff said.

"He's got double-plus speed, all kinds of physical tools, and he's a great worker—really passionate and dedicated. He's messed around with short, second (base), center field, but it's too early to know where he'll land."

Both Tampa natives are headed to extended spring training, Radcliff said, and then a summer in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, with a promotion to the Rookie-level Appalachian League possible.

"They're just in the early stages," Radcliff said, "but that's a pretty good haul from one high school team."


• Twins manager Ron Gardenhire lobbied to have 2009 first-round righthander Kyle Gibson compete for a spot in the big league rotation, but Gibson allowed two runs in four innings prior to being farmed out.

• Outfielder Joe Benson will begin his second straight season with Double-A New Britain. He hit 23 homers there to earn Twins minor league player of the year honors last year.