Right-handed pitcher Brandon Paulson, who attended the Academy's School of Communications & Media Technologies and played baseball for the university's Urban Knights, has been signed to a major-league contract by the Minnesota Twins. Photo by Rob Garcia.

Brandon Poulson is like something out of a baseball scout’s dream: the unheralded, undrafted pitcher toiling for a practically unknown farm team…who happens to throw a fastball 100 miles per hour. But Poulson is no unknown now, having signed a contract with Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins.

Blessed with a 6-foot 6-inch 240-lb. body and an elite work ethic to become a better player, Poulson traveled to the Academy to study in the School of Communications & Media Technologies and play Urban Knights baseball. Most recently he’s been playing for the Healdsburg Prune Packers of the Golden State Collegiate League, where he began attracting attention with his rapidly accelerating fastball and maturing pitching skills. Major league scouts came to check him out.

Now Poulson has a major league contract and is poised to embark on a professional career.

"It's a great feeling to sign, but it's just the first step, so I still need to continue to work and keep making progress," he says.

Standing 6 foot 6 inches and weighing in at 240 lbs., Poulson has the stature and conditioning to throw a baseball 100 miles per hour. It's said that perhaps 100 athletes in the world have that ability. Photo by Rob Garcia.

Stepping back a few years, it’s remarkable to see how far Poulson has come. A sophomore transfer to the Academy from Santa Rosa Junior College, where he tried his hand at football, Pouson also found himself working for his father’s contracting business. Former Academy baseball coach Brian Guinn was the one who offered him a chance to play for the Urban Knights, recognizing that Poulson combined high athletic potential with intense dedication.

"At the Academy, I gained experience," Poulson says. "I got the experience of being put in different situations and trying to keep myself focused on getting better."

With the Urban Knights in 2014, Poulson pitched 19.1 innings with 24 strikeouts and an 8.38 earned run average. But something had shifted in his final two appearances. His trips to the mound reflected the additional work Poulson had been doing with Caleb Balbuena, a former minor leaguer and pitching coach with whom he had connected through a series of individuals including Joey Gomes, the brother of Boston Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes (who served as general manager for the Healdsburg Prune Packers).

Against California Baptist on April 24, Poulson threw three shutout innings with three strikeouts. Then, in the Urban Knights' season finale against Point Loma on May 3, he struck out all six batters he faced in two innings.

This summer, Poulson continued his development with the Prune Packers and began to draw interest from scouts as his velocity rose from the low- to high-90 mile per hour range. Through 12.1 innings of work as the team's closer, Poulson was nearly unhittable, striking out 31 batters while yielding just six hits.

Poulson is that rare undrafted baseball phenomenon who’s sure to be watched closely as his talent develops; as sports writer Jeff Passan said in Yahoo Sports, it’s “the sort of scouting story that will live forever.” After visiting Minnesota's Target Field last week for a preview of the major leagues and signing a $250,000 deal, Poulson’s now headed to Elizabethton, Tenn., where he will join the Twins' Rookie-level Appalachian League affiliate, the Elizabethton Twins.

"Everyone here is so proud of Brandon," says Dan McDermott, current head coach of Urban Knights men’s baseball. "He has demonstrated that the combination of hard work, opportunity, and discipline are the recipe for achieving dreams. His story is an inspiration to his coaches and teammates. We all wish him the best." 

Brandon Poulson. Photo by Ian Sutherland and Nicol Biesek.

• More about Brandon Poulson
• Coverage:
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USA Today

Rob Garcia, assistant athletics director/media relations for Academy Athletics, contributed reporting for this story. Learn more about Urban Knights sports at Art U Athletics.

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