Twins sign first-round pick Garza
Right-hander, five other selections ink contracts
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins wasted little time wrapping up negotiations with 2005 first-round draft pick Matt Garza.The right-handed pitcher from Fresno State University signed a contract Monday and will report to rookie-level Elizabethton in the Appalachian League next week. The 21-year-old Garza, the 25th overall selection in the First-Year Player Draft held last week, agreed to a $1.35 million signing bonus. Eager to commence his professional career, he had little interest in letting talks with the organization drag on through the summer. "I'm excited to get out there and start playing," Garza said by phone from Fresno, Calif. "My agent and the organization worked it out and I said, 'OK, let's go.' All I wanted was to be treated fairly like everyone else." Twins scouting director Mike Radcliff said talks with Garza's agent were cordial throughout. "He knew we were interested. We knew he was ready to roll," Radcliff said. "We hoped it would go quickly." Garza went 6-5 with a 3.07 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 19 games this season. The 6-foot-4, 185-pounder was named Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year. "I think he definitely has the ability to move up quickly," Radcliff said. "He has four pitches he throws for strikes. He pitched at a high level." With a slow beginning to his college career -- Garza went 1-6 as a freshman in 2003 -- he did not become his team's ace until this season. His stock steadily rose throughout the year with strong performances. "He's a work in progress," Radcliff said. "He matured into his body and talents, but he wasn't the star player in high school. This was his first year as a No. 1 starter and there are still some things that have to happen. We believe they will." Since the Bulldogs' season ended, Garza has been champing at the bit to keep pitching. "I got tired of working and just throwing bullpen sessions and not playing when I knew I could go play," Garza said. He will get that chance soon. Garza will report to a mini-camp for draftees in Fort Myers, Fla., later this week before he is sent to Elizabethton. The Twins have made progress in inking several of their high round picks. Also signed Monday were two second-round picks, shortstop Paul Kelly and right-handed pitcher Kevin Slowey, third-round sandwich pick and lefty pitcher Ryan Mullins, 10th-round pick and third baseman Matthew Betsill and catcher and 19th-round selection Sean Richardson. Another notable signing was shortstop Toby Gardenhire. The son of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was taken in the 41st round of the draft and will also report to Elizabethton. Radcliff also said that the organization's first-round sandwich pick, first baseman Henry Sanchez, could be signed in the next few days.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.