Bistagne catches on with Twins

The three-day Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft came and went last week with Brian Bistagne not being picked.

Bistagne figured he would have been selected by one of the 30 major league clubs, but it didn't come to pass. The disappointment turned to jubilation less than a week later.

Bistagne, a former standout at St. Francis High and Glendale Community College, signed a free-agent contract with the Minnesota Twins on Monday.

The Glendale resident boarded a flight Tuesday from Los Angeles to Fort Myers, Fla. to report to the Gulf Coast League Twins rookie-ball team with the organizations' other free-agent signings and draft picks. Fort Myers will begin its season Tuesday.

“It hasn't sunk in yet, but I'm pumped up to get this opportunity,” said Bistagne, who recently graduated from Lee University in Tennessee. “I like baseball and want to be on the field.

“I figured that last week was my last chance to be drafted, and from what I heard, I was on numerous draft boards. So, I thought I had a shot. It's disappointing that I hadn't been drafted because I feel like my goal slipped by. I wasn't going to quit.”

Bistagne, a former All-Western State Conference pick at Glendale College, who helped Lee (53-14) reach the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics World Series in Lewiston, Idaho in May, found out that he was signed by the Twins on Monday morning after he received a call from Minnesota Scout Jack Powell.

Bistagne, who was asleep when his phone rang, recalled what Powell told him.

“He said, 'I have some bad news for you in that I have to ship you out of California to Florida as soon as possible,'” Bistagne said. “I was so excited when he said that because an opportunity had come for me to continue playing baseball.

“[Powell] prepped me how to handle not being drafted. He thought he might have a spot on the Florida team on Sunday, and he said he'd get back to me on Monday. I knew when he called that he would either say yes or no. He thinks I can have a long career with Minnesota.”

Bistagne, a shortstop, batted .364 (84 for 231) with seven home runs and 42 runs batted in this season. He collected 18 doubles, three triples and was hit 16 times by a pitch. Bistagne, 21, walked 38 times, registered a .481 on-base percentage and had a .558 slugging percentage.

Bistagne received All-Southern States Athletic Conference second-team honors for the Flames, who fell to eventual-champion Lubbock Christian and runner-up Point Loma Nazarene in the 10-team World Series.

Glendale College Coach Chris Cicuto said Bistagne was able to overcome the disappointment of not being drafted.

“Brian texted me about being disappointed not being drafted, and I told him that he needed to be patient,” Cicuto said. “The funky thing about the draft is that certain spots need to be filled by the teams and then you go from there.

“He just wanted to play. He'll go down there and make the best of it. I'm excited for him.”

Bill Hertz, Bistagne's agent, said becoming a part of Minnesota's organization should allow Bistagne to continue building on his skills.

“It's going to be a great opportunity for Brian,” Hertz said by phone from San Diego on Tuesday. “The Twins are an excellent organization, and they have one of the best minor league systems around.

“The Twins take care of their own and they are able to move people up. He's deserving of this opportunity, and it's a great moment for him.”

Bistagne helped Lee reached the championship game of the NAIA World Series in 2008.

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