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Twins hold clinic at community park

February 6, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Every year, the Minnesota Twins go to parks all over Southwest Florida to teach kids how to pitch, field and hit like a pro.

On Saturday, the team once again visited North Fort Myers Community Park, where nearly 70 children aged 5 to 12 took the field with Twins coaches and farmhands, including those who play for the Fort Myers Miracle, to learn the skills of the game.

For the players at North Fort Myers Babe Ruth, it's an event they look forward to each year.

Article Photos

Hayden Hudson, 11, gets a ball signed by Minnesota Twins prospect LaMonte Wade during the Minnesota Twins baseball clinic at North Fort Myers Community Park on Saturday.


"We're going to train these kids on new skills. We've had them here the last three years and we're thankful to have them," said league president Jason Estes. "They make a big impact on the kids. They become very attentive, even the youngest kids. And for the coaches to come out and see these drills and replicate that is really helpful."

Mark Weber, manager of Florida business operations, said North Fort Myers has become a favorite stop.

"They always have great attendance here and it's one of those things where we like to reach everyone in the county, and North Fort Myers is critical to the success of kids we are teaching," Weber said.

This year's camp was a little different. For one, Stu Kliburn, who has traditionally been the pitching instructor, was not there because he was coaching a team in the Dominical Republic in the postseason. Miracle pitching coach Luis Ramirez took his place.

"For me, it's a pleasure for me to teach these kids. I like to interact with them and watch them have fun, which is most fun for me," Ramirez said. "With the 5-year-olds, you have to start from scratch, while older ones are more experienced and a little easier to teach. They pick up things."

Pitchers didn't just throw the ball into the fence and hope it stuck, but rather to a pitching pad on the fence so the children could see better how successful they were.

There was also a fourth station this time for strength and conditioning, where kids did some shuttle runs and sprinting.

The players included LaMonte Wade, a top prospect for the Twins, and many others who are playing at Fort Myers and throughout the system.

The children spent 20 minutes at all four stations before all were given baseballs for the players to sign.

For Brandon Tuduri, 11, he had a good time at the clinic and learned a lot about the game that he hopes to transfer to the field once the season starts Feb. 16 and maybe impress Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, who will be at Opening Day.

"I learned how to pitch because I don't get to pitch often. I needed to work on batting. I learned better swing mechanics today," Tuduri said. "I think I learned more from the pros because they have more experience."



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