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Rockies agree to terms with Young

By Allan Simpson

Friday, September 22


Jason Young

The Rockies will reduce their list of draft holdouts from two to one on Tuesday by announcing the signing of second-round pick Jason Young.

The Stanford righthander has agreed to a standard 2001 minor league contract with a bonus of $2.75 million—the largest in Rockies history and the largest given a second-round pick in this year's draft. The signing is subject to a physical that Young is scheduled to take on Monday.

Young, who slipped in the draft because he would not agree in advance to financial parameters, had held out all summer as he waited for the market on college pitchers to establish itself. His official signing will come just one day before he was scheduled to return to Stanford for the first class of his senior year.

Only righthander Justin Wayne, Young's former Stanford teammate, has received a higher bonus among college pitchers. Wayne, the fifth overall pick, signed with the Montreal Expos for $2.95 million. Young was the 12th college pitcher drafted.

"Obviously, he was a top 10 talent and his bonus reflects that," said agent Scott Boras, Young's adviser.

Young's signing leaves the Rockies with only one player not in the fold: Matt Harrington, their first-round pick and the highest unsigned selection in the draft.

Unlike the relative calm that characterized the Young negotiations, Harrington's situation has been anything but amicable. Dealings between Tommy Tanzer, Harrington's adviser, and the Rockies have deteriorated into a highly contentious battle. A source close to the negotiations says Tanzer's brash negotiating style and his unwillingness to let Harrington and his family talk directly with the Rockies have hampered negotiations.

Harrington has not enrolled in school this fall to keep negotiations alive. He was originally scheduled to attend college at Arizona State and more recently was looking to enroll in a junior college.

The Palmdale, Calif., high school righthander was generally acknowledged to be the top player in this year's draft and Tanzer has said all along that he should be paid accordingly. He has insisted that Harrington should get the highest bonus ever for a player signing with the team that drafted him from the start, and that stance never changed after the White Sox gave outfielder Joe Borchard, their first-round pick, a record $5.3 million bonus in late July. That only intensified the rhetoric.

The Rockies have reportedly offered Harrington his choice of a signing bonus worth $4 million or an eight-year major league deal that would guarantee him $5.3 million with bonuses based on his major league performance.

With Harrington still not in the fold, the Rockies are in danger of having the game's most enviable track record of signing their top picks over the last 10 years interrupted.

Only once since their inception in 1992 have the Rockies not signed at least their first 13 draft picks each year. The exception came in 1998 when the Rockies didn't sign their fifth-round and 10th-round picks. Even this year, the Rockies have only one unsigned pick in the first 20 rounds outside of Harrington—14th-rounder Bob Zimmerman.

Young's signing also reduces to one the number of Boras clients from this year's draft whose status has not been resolved. Only shortstop Bobby Hill, a second-round pick of the Cubs who has spent the season playing in the independent Atlantic League, is either not in the fold or has returned to college. His situation is likely to be clarified when the Atlantic League's regular season ends on Monday.

Little more than a month ago, none of Boras' nine draft clients had signed.

Besides Harrington and Hill, the only other premium player still considered a holdout is Arkansas high school righthander Dustin Moseley, a supplemental first-round pick of the Reds. He is not attending college this fall in hopes of still striking a deal with the Reds.

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