Twins select Garza in first round
Right-hander hails from Fresno State University
Hanging out at his Fresno, Calif., home with his girlfriend, two-year-old son and some friends, pitcher Matt Garza listened online Tuesday as the first few picks were taken in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.But Garza, a right-hander from Fresno State Univ., quickly became restless. "I was getting anxious," Garza said. "I went outside and pushed my son on the swings and then I walked around a little. Then my girlfriend and a buddy came running outside." At the same time, his father also called. Garza learned the Twins took him with the 25th overall pick in the first round. "I'm super excited," Garza said. "I'm trying to come down from this high." Garza, a 21-year-old junior, was 6-5 with a 3.07 ERA and 120 strikeouts over 108 1/3 innings this year, which the organization considered good statistics for being on a struggling Fresno State club. He earned Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year honors. The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder also led the WAC in strikeouts and earned first-team all-conference honors. Twins scouting director Mike Radcliff said Garza was at the top of several of his scouts' lists. "He has a lot of the stuff we emphasize to be a starting pitcher in the big leagues," Radcliff said. "He has command and control, which we think is important." Garza's collegiate career started out rocky -- he went 1-6 with a 9.55 ERA as a freshman and didn't become the Bulldogs' ace until this year. But according to Baseball America, the pitcher's stock rose with a strong finish to this season. "He was a little skinny kid out of high school," Radcliff said. "He evolved the last couple of years and became the Friday night guy." "I hoped it would happen," Garza said of his improvement. "I've been competing my butt off with every pitch. I'm glad it turned out the way it did." Scouting reports say that Garza has developed four pitches. He throws a 90-94 mph fastball and has an effective slider in the low 80s. He is still developing his curveball and changeup into quality pitches. If he does sign quickly, Radcliff expects Garza to be part of rookie-level Elizabethton's rotation this summer. "There shouldn't be any red flags," Radcliff said. "We'll get on that the next day or so." Garza, who grew up in the Fresno area, hopes for a speedy signing process. "It's my time to go," he said. "I'm ready to take an adventure and explore the path that's ahead of me."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.