LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The day he heard his name called during the amateur baseball draft, Zack Larson wasn't quite sure what he wanted to do.
The Minnesota Twins made the Lakewood Ranch outfielder a 20th-round pick, but he also had an offer waiting for him from State College of Florida.
Friday, moments before the signing deadline, Larson made a decision: He wanted to kick-start his pro career.
So he and the Twins agreed on a bonus worth $190,000, and Larson said he expects to sign with the team over the next two days.
"I'm pumped," he said. "My family and I, we weren't sure what was going to happen. The deadline was 5 p.m. (Friday), so we talked about it and came to an agreement."
Larson visited the Twins' minor-league complex in Fort Myers, liked what he saw and also liked what he heard from members of Minnesota's organization.
"I liked it a lot," Larson said. "I could just see myself playing there and being a Minnesota Twin."
Growing up, Larson heard
plenty about the Twins' organization from Mark Guthrie, one of Larson's summer-league coaches who spent nearly half of his 15-year career pitching for Minnesota. Guthrie, who graduated from Venice, was a member of the Twins' 1991 world championship team.
"He always talked to me about what a great organization it was and what a great bunch of people they had," Larson said, "and how it was the best organization of all the ones he played for, and how it would be a great place for me. And sure enough, the Twins called me."
Larson was named The Herald's All-Area Player of the Year after leading the Mustangs in home runs (four), RBIs (32), slugging (.703) and on-base percentage (.516) while batting .426 and scoring 41 runs. Lakewood Ranch reached the Class 6A state final four, its first state semifinal appearance since 2003.
Larson also swiped 22 bases and said the Twins plan on keeping him in the outfield.
"It was wild. I'm going to miss high school a lot," Larson said. "That was one of the best times in my life, playing with the high school team."
Now Larson said he is ready for the next chapter in his life.
"This is what I've wanted to do ever since I was a little kid," he said. "My dream is finally here."