Rodriguez, Johnson Look to Impress

A breeze of opportunity blew Tuesday at Mandan Memorial Ballpark as Nate Rodriguez of Valley City Babe Ruth, Jesse Johnson of Legion Post 60, and the rest of a collection of nearly 30 select reserves arrived for a nondescript 9 a.m. baseball tryout to which each received letters of invitation.

“It was good,” Rodriguez said.

Minnesota Twins North Dakota regional scout Mark Wilson, San Diego Padres scout Hank Krause, Twins scout Boyd Pipkin and Twins/Padres associate director, camp director and letter signator Don Hanson directed the athletes — divided by pitchers, catchers and infielders — through a series of performance drills into the early afternoon.

Hanson saw Johnson in action at Shiloh Christian in Bismarck, N.D., this spring, and heard about Rodriguez through word of mouth.

Registration consisted of each player declaring his height, weight, handedness, primary position, injury history and whether or not he has yet been drafted by a team in a particular league.

Opening the examinations was a tandem 60-yard dash followed by a period of pitch-and-catch for warmups. Catcher drills with throws to second base and relay-free routines from the outfield to home plate, grounders to shortstop, throws to first and home, first-to-third and first to-second followed. Curveballs, fastballs and changeups against a speed gun with a live batter in the box and a sea of outfielders concluded the review.

Each athlete will receive an evaluative letter describing his perceived strengths, weaknesses and suggestions for improvement.