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Gardenhire, a Longhorn, hopes No. 4 pick spurns A&M

The SportsXchange

For the first time since 1992, the Twins went with a high school pitcher as their top pick in the draft.

They're hoping right-hander Kohl Stewart pans out better than the forgettable Dan Serafini.

Twins scouting director Deron Johnson said Stewart was the best player available when they were on the clock at No. 4 overall.

A product of St. Pius X High School in Houston, Stewart has already accepted a football scholarship to Texas A&M. Chances are the baseball money will be too good to pass up.

Manager Gardenhire, a former Texas Longhorn, hopes so.

"He wants to go to A&M and I'm a Longhorn," Gardenhire said. "I couldn't believe he would do something like that. I'm happy we got him. He looks like a big stud. Hopefully we'll be able to sign him and keep him from that mistake of going to Texas A&M."

It brings to mind another multi-sport athlete who was picked in the first round by the Twins and chose baseball over a full ride to play quarterback at Florida State. That guy's name: Joe Mauer.

At least one scout said Stewart's ability is comparable to fellow first-round pitchers Mark Appel (Houston, No. 1) and Jonathan Gray (Colorado, No. 3) and that he's a better athlete than both. The difference is Appel and Gray played college baseball.

Stewart's numbers over the last two years are eye-popping. He won 13 of 14 decisions and struck out 131 in 94 innings. The Twins already have begun talking bonus with him.

"I think the ceiling is unlimited," Johnson said. "I think he's got the makeup and the physical attributes to be a front-line starter."

Stewart responded to his good fortune in the method of the day, tweeting, "WHAT'S UP TWIN NATION!"

"The Twins, they picked me and they expect me to sign," he said in a conference call with reporters. "I'm not going to say 100 percent for sure, but I'm looking forward to joining the Twins' organization. I don't want to say anything or pull anybody the wrong way, but I look forward to being a Twin."

He also has been quoted as saying he's looking forward to concentrating only on baseball.

The Twins have had some good luck with first-round picks. In addition to Mauer, who was the top overall pick in 2001, former first-round selections by the Twins include Torii Hunter, Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer, Matt Garza, Trevor Plouffe, Glen Perkins and Aaron Hicks.

Oh, and Serafini. Taken 26th overall in 1992 out of Serra High School in California, Serafini was 9-6 in three seasons with the Twins before going to the Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates and getting suspended 50 games for steroid use. He last pitched in Mexico.
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