Johnson, Rodriguez off to Tryout Camp in Mandan

Nate Rodriguez and Jesse Johnson received invitation letters to Tuesday’s major league tryout camp at the Mandan Memorial Ballpark in South Mandan, N.D.

Rodriguez, the upcoming sophomore of this summer’s Babe Ruth team, and Johnson, the to-be Enderlin-Maple Valley junior, of Legion Post 60, didn’t see it coming.

“I had no idea it existed until I got the letter,” said Johnson, nervous and excited to partake in his first such event and to get his name out to scouts. “Maybe some scouts saw us at Babe Ruth State last year.”

Johnson received both his and Rodriguez’s letter with a request to pass the latter along.

Camp begins at 9 a.m. at the Mandan Memorial Ballpark in South Mandan. If it rains, camp will move to the Dome in Bismarck, N.D., though all athletes will report to Mandan first. Camp looks to finish around 1 p.m., and an evaluative letter will find each athlete after the camp to tell him, as the letter indicates, “what the scouts were looking for and where your results stand with those standards they use.”

Rodriguez and Johnson speculate that skill drills include 60-yard dashes, grounder-fielding routines and hitting exhibitions.

Tuesday’s camp lies in the hands of Minnesota Twins North Dakota regional scout Mark Wilson, Padres scout Hank Krause, Twins scout Boyd Pipkin, and Twins and Padres associate director, camp director and letter signator Don Hanson.

Thirteen-to-fifteen colleges attend this year’s tryouts and are “especially interested to see if they can find a player or two that may fit their system for the next couple of years or so,” the letter reads. “This includes colleges from out of state.”

Tuesday’s highest-evaluated athletes will stick around when the camp is complete to compete in a scrimmage.