Prior Lake High School senior righthanded pitcher Nick Hanson always has set his sights on playing professionally. He now will have the chance to fulfill that dream.

The hard-throwing Hanson was selected by the Cincinnati Reds with the second selection of the third round (79th overall) in the major league baseball draft Friday. He signed a letter of intent with the University of Kentucky last fall but will forgo that opportunity to sign with the Reds.

The pool salary for the pick is a little more than $800,000. The Reds could pay up to nearly $1.5 million without suffering a loss of future draft picks.

“Cincinnati was one of the teams that always showed interest in me,” Hanson said. “It’s been fun and exciting.”

Hanson joins Brad Hand and Mitch Brown as the only Minnesota high school pitchers taken in the first three rounds of the draft in the past 25 years. Hand is pitching in relief for the San Diego Padres while Brown is in the Cleveland Indians’ minor league system.

“It’s quite an honor,” Hanson said.

Hanson has a fastball that has topped out at 96 mph, according to MLB.com scouting reports. His best pitch, according to the report, is a power curve, and it notes he hasn’t needed offspeed pitches against Minnesota high school competition.

Hanson has been a bit inconsistent, the report says, although that’s mostly considered a product of Minnesota’s weather.

“I thought I might be selected on Day 1,” Hanson said. The first two rounds (77 selections) of the draft were held Thursday. “This was a one-time chance to be drafted as a high schooler. Not too many players get to say they were drafted out of high school.”

• The Twins selected their first pitcher in the draft, taking righthander Griffin Jax in the third round. Jax is attending the Air Force Academy.

Jax has a solid fastball that has reached 95 mph, but his curve and changeup need more consistency, according to MLB.com. He has been moving up in the draft because it appears his active-duty requirement in the military will be deferred.

The Twins drafted another college pitcher, St. John’s (N.Y.) closer Thomas Hackimer, in the fourth round. Hackimer has a funky sidearm delivery with good movement on a fastball that tops out about 91 mph, according to MLB.com.

The Twins drafted their third pitcher in as many picks in the fifth round, taking Canadian high schooler Jordan Balazovic. The righthander has committed to pitch for Auburn, so the Twins will have to convince him his future is best served in an immediate start to his pro career.

In the sixth round, the Twins took another pitcher — 4-for-4 for the day if you’re counting — in righthander Alex Schick, a 6-7 righthander from the University of California. Schick suffered a serious knee injury in January and pitched in just seven games this season as a junior. Schick had surgery to repair a tendon after his knee cap slipped while he was playing catch.

The run on pitchers ended when the Twins selected outfielder Matt Albanese from Bryant University in Round 7. Albanese batted .366 with 11 homers and 52 RBI in 49 games.

 

Staff writer Dennis Brackin contributed to this report.