ANAHEIM, CALIF. – The Twins have signed some of their picks from last week’s Major League Baseball draft, including one player who is trying to work around a military commitment to pursue his dreams.
Griffin Jax, a righthanded pitcher from Air Force Academy, has signed for $645,600, which is the bonus figure recommended by the league for that slot in the draft. He would be the first player from Air Force to play in the majors.
Jax was taken in the third round (93rd overall), and some feel he would have went earlier if not for him having to meet his military obligations following graduation. He would have to serve five years, but could apply for a two-year plan and serve the remainder in the reserves.
Griffin, for now, is going pitch for the Twins’ rookie league team in Elizabethton, Tenn., then return to school in the fall to complete his education.
But Griffin is going to ask the Air Force to be appointed to the reserves upon his graduation. Troy Garnhart, the sports information director at Air Force, said there is a way Griffin could have his military service deferred, join the reserves and train with them a minimum of 30 days a year. Jax will submit a copy of his signed contract along with his request.
“We have the utmost confidence that he will be pitching with us beyond his graduation,’’ Twins scouting director Deron Johnson said.
Jax, the son of former NFL lineman Garth Jax, has a fastball that can touch 94 to 95 miles per hour and throws a good changeup. He was 9-2 with a 2.05 ERA for the Falcons.
“You have to look at from the big picture and not from the military commitment,’’ said David Matranga, Jax’s agent. “If you believe he’s a big leaguer, those are the kids you want.’’
The process might take a while to play out, with the possibility that a decision — determined by the Secretary of the Air Force — might not be made until Jax is ready to graduate next year.
The Twins also signed their second-round pick, prep catcher Ben Rortvedt, for $900,000, according to MLB.com. That slot value of that pick was $1,141,600.
Prep outfielder Akil Baddoo, one of their two supplemental picks after the second round, signed for $750,000, which is less than the slot value of $865,200.
Sixth-round pick Alex Schick, a righthander from California, signed for $400,000. That is more than the slot value of $267,800.
Nunez makes it bounce
Several times this year, shortstop Eduardo Nunez has bounced throws to first base on purpose to get outs.
He’ll use it from deep in the hole at short, or when he’s running out of time and can’t get everything into the throw. The speed of the runner factors into when he uses the technique.
Nunez has been seen bouncing throws to first during pregame work to perfect the technique.
“That play is a beautiful thing to watch,’’ Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He does practice it every day. He’s got the arm strength to know how to use the turf or grass to get it over there. He has a quick release and still has enough on it.’’
Most times, the ball has bounced up nicely for Twins first basemen.
“It’s easier for both sides,’’ first baseman Joe Mauer said. “He doesn’t have to worry about short-hopping me or trying to get it all the way in the air.’’
• Robbie Grossman couldn’t make a team out of spring training, but now he’s batting third for the Twins. Grossman on Wednesday was in the No. 3 hole for the second time since being called up May 19. Molitor said he likes the look of Mauer batting second and Grossman third against lefthanders.