The Rangers announced the signing of supplemental first-round pick Tanner Scheppers on Thursday.
Scheppers, who pitched for Fresno State from 2006-2008 and worked in the independent American Association this summer, received a signing bonus of $1.25 million, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations. The slot for the 44th pick was $776,700; Scheppers’ $1.25 million bonus is the largest of the supplemental first round. He becomes the Rangers’ highest signed pick after they failed to land first-rounder Matthew Purke.
"It’s a mixture (of feelings)," said Scheppers, who spent much of the last three months at Athletes Performance in Arizona and in Irvine, Calif., throwing with his former pitching coach, Ted Silva. "I’m just so happy that it’s over and I have a direction, so I can grow as a player.
"I told the Rangers that I’d be ready to go whenever I signed. I don’t think I lost anything; I lost some development time, but my arm feels as good as ever."
Scheppers will report to instructional league and then to the Arizona Fall League to begin his Rangers career. It’s a later start than was envisioned last May, when Scheppers ranked 10th in BA’s Top 200 draft prospects for 2008. The only college pitchers who ranked ahead of him were Brian Matusz and Aaron Crow. While Matusz (who bested Scheppers head-to-head in February 2008) already has reached the majors with Baltimore, Crow, like Scheppers, failed to sign in 2008 and re-entered the ’09 draft. Crow, whom the Royals drafted in the first round (12th overall) this June, also is close to signing, according to sources, and is expected to join Scheppers in the AFL.
The Crow and Scheppers stories have similarities but one major difference. Scheppers wasn’t a first-round pick in ’08 or ’09 thanks mostly to a shoulder injury, sustained in mid-May 2008. He wasn’t part of Fresno State’s shocking ride to the national championship that year, fell to the second round of the draft and didn’t sign with the Pirates. Scheppers then made four starts in in the independent American Association, pitching for the St. Paul Saints. He struck out 20 in 19 innings but walked 11, and even though his velocity pushed the mid-to-upper 90s, he couldn’t shake rumors that his shoulder wasn’t 100 percent sound. He clearly proved healthy enough for the Rangers to give him a bonus nearly $500,000 above the commissioner’s recommended slot.
"It was definitely good that I went up there, and I learned a lot from the experience," Scheppers said of his time with St. Paul. "You can’t look at it as a negative. I learned what professional baseball is all about. There’s no coach there telling you where to go, it’s a lot on your own. I had to learn, you know, to be a pro . . . I learned how to take better care of my body, my arm, myself."
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