MINNEAPOLIS -- Having grown up as a Twins fan in Waconia, Minn., University of Minnesota left-hander Dalton Sawyer couldn't believe it when his hometown team selected him in the 27th round of the 2015 MLB Draft on Wednesday.
Sawyer, 21, knows how fortunate he is to be in this position, especially after being involved in a serious car crash with his Northwoods League teammate Kasey Ralston the summer before his sophomore year. Sawyer suffered a broken rib, a collapsed lung and a concussion, but he was able to resume his college career only months later, then realized his dream just two years after that when he was drafted Wednesday.
"It really put life into perspective," Sawyer said. "Baseball is hopefully going to be my job here in the next week, but ultimately, it's just a game and there are things that are more important like the good Lord and family. So it just opened my eyes to all that I'm so blessed with. The bouncing back, that was no problem at all. We were both alive."
After the accident, he was still able to have the best season of his college career as a sophomore. The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder led the Gophers in wins (six), saves (six) and appearances (21) while posting a 2.62 ERA with 42 strikeouts and 23 walks in 44 2/3 innings.
Sawyer's junior year wasn't as strong -- he had a 4.53 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 32 walks in 49 2/3 innings -- but he made eight starts after being used as strictly reliever as a sophomore. The Twins still saw enough to draft him after seeing him in a private workout at Target Field.
"He struggled this year, but threw in our workout on Thursday and actually threw OK," Twins scouting director Deron Johnson. "He'll probably go out as a reliever, and we'll see how he can do."
Sawyer is looking to become the latest player from the University of Minnesota to play for the Twins, as he hopes to join Hall of Famers Paul Molitor and Dave Winfield, as well as current closer Glen Perkins, Terry Steinbach and Denny Neagle. Sawyer knew the Twins had interest, but he wasn't sure if he'd be drafted by them.
"It was awesome," Sawyer said. "They're the team I grew up watching my entire life. It was just very cool to hear them call my name. I knew the Twins were interested, but at that point in those later rounds, you never know what will happen, so it was definitely a surprise. So I'm just honored they'd even consider me."
While Sawyer was just looking to get drafted, he said it was even more special that it was the Twins who picked him on Wednesday. He's expected to sign and forgo his senior year to turn professional and try to accomplish his next goal of reaching the Majors.
"It honestly would've been a dream come true if anyone picked me, but the fact it was the team I grew up watching ever since I was 3 years old is just kinda surreal," Sawyer said. "It's cool."