By Richard Justice
August 12, 2002
Two days after Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr. gave his staff the green light to resume negotiations with the club’s unsigned draft choices, first-round pick Derick Grigsby on Sunday agreed to a contract that will pay him a $1.125 million signing bonus.
The Astros also will pay up to five semesters of college if Grigsby chooses to attend.
McLane had halted negotiations because he was worried a labor-related work stoppage would leave the club with a cash-flow problem. But he changed his mind late last week when his baseball staff persuaded him they could structure the contracts in a way that would delay payment on a large portion of the contracts.
Grigsby’s deal is for the 2003 season, meaning the righthander won’t begin his pro career until the Astros begin their instructional league programs in late September.
That’s somewhat later than Grigsby would have liked, but he was happy to at least have the deal done.
“It’s a big relief,” he said in a telephone interview from his home in Marshall, Texas. “I feel there’s a lot of weight off my shoulders. It wasn’t looking good there for a while. I was in a bad mood.”
Grigsby, 19, spent one season at the University of Texas before transferring to Northeast Texas Community College in Mount Pleasant. He features a 96-mph fastball, terrific hard slider and changeup that needs polish.
“He’s a real tough competitor,” Astros scout Rusty Pendergrass said. “He’s all business when he’s on the mound. He’s not afraid to come inside. He’s going to break a lot of bats before he’s done.”
He was 3-7, 3.61 at Northeast Texas last season, but in 72 innings, he allowed 47 hits, walked 29 and struck out 91.
Grigsby, the 29th pick of the first round, was left to cool his heels for a month after the Astros halted negotiations. He found out they had changed their minds Friday afternoon when his father phoned to say Pendergrass was coming for a visit.