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Guthrie signs, but Bullington and Brownlie wait

By Josh Boyd
October 11, 2002

Loewen
Bryan Bullington
With the No. 1 pick still unsigned and the fourth pick enrolled at Chipola (Fla.) Junior College, there are still some obvious flaws with the draft. But four months after the fact, the 2002 draft is a lot closer to how the commissioner’s office would have drawn it up than in years past.

Bonuses to first-round picks were largely kept in check, not escalating exponentially as they have for more than a decade. Four first-rounders remained unsigned, including the Mariners’ first pick, first baseman/outfielder John Mayberry Jr., who enrolled at Stanford and won’t be eligible for re-entry until after his junior year.

Though the Pirates and No. 1 pick Bryan Bullington originally were optimistic about getting a deal done in time for instructional league, which started on Sept. 18, the two sides remained at a standstill more than four months after Pittsburgh selected the Ball State righthander. That optimism seems to have waned as instructional league continued on without the righthander, who plans to re-enroll in school in January if an agreement is not reached.

"The talks are ongoing," according to Pirates scouting director Ed Creech.

Brownlie Out, Guthrie In

Rutgers righthander Bobby Brownlie, regarded as the top pitching prospect prior to the 2001 season, also elected to stay out of school this fall as he continued to negotiate with the Cubs. The two sides were reportedly more than $1 million apart, and Brownlie told the Rutgers student newspaper that there is an 80 percent chance he’ll take the mound for Rutgers next spring.

While those words are likely a combination of frustration and a negotiating ploy by the Scott Boras client, Brownlie took notice that another Boras client, Jeremy Guthrie, signed a $4 million major league pact that included a $3 million bonus. Heading into the season Brownlie rated ahead of Guthrie, but a sore arm hampered Brownlie all spring, leading to disappointing performances down the stretch.

Guthrie, who was the Pirates’ third-round pick in 2001 after his sophomore season, rose to the top of several draft boards during an All-America 13-2, 2.51 campaign as Stanford’s ace.

Guthrie answered some concerns about his durability by logging six complete games in his final eight starts while maintaining his 90-96 mph velocity throughout the season. He pitched in a national-high 158 innings, a big reason why Cleveland was in no hurry to sign him.

As Guthrie was thriving, questions about Brownlie’s health caused him to slide to the 21st pick–one slot ahead of Guthrie. Despite going 6-6, 3.50 with 80 hits allowed in 79 innings, Brownlie’s camp is still demanding money more befitting his preseason All-America status.

Clemson third baseman Jeff Baker, another Boras client who was considered a first-round talent by all accounts if not the top college position player on the board, signed a major league deal in the last week of September for $2 million. Baker, who projected to go as high as the ninth overall pick, slid to the fourth round–and reportedly could have agreed to a predraft offer in excess of the $2 million he eventually signed for.

With a few exceptions, teams were able to keep bonuses under control, even a year after top picks Mark Prior and Mark Teixeira landed record-setting deals in the $10 million range.

"Most clubs held the line because of the uncertainty with the strike," said Orioles scouting director Tony DeMacio, who was unable to come to terms with the fourth overall pick, Adam Loewen. "Some clubs always seem to overpay, but for the most part I think bonuses were fair this year.

"The year before, there were some very good high picks with Prior and Teixeira. But every year is different; that’s just how it is."

Following A Different Lead

B.J. Upton’s $4.6 million bonus was the highest, followed by Guthrie’s, but Chris Gruler’s $2.5 million predraft deal set the tone for the top picks. Perceived as a bargain based on last year’s slot (the Devil Rays signed righthander Dewon Brazelton for $4.5 million), Gruler’s deal may have helped organizations keep bonuses down. But that wasn’t the only factor that played a role.

"It was a perfect year for teams to do that," an agent said. "Not only were they making a concerted effort to (keep bonuses down), you couple that with the fact the talent was down from last year and the impending labor situation. It was easier for them to do what they wanted."

With the threat of a strike erased from negotiations, unsigned picks and teams are facing different deadlines now. After signing Gruler, the Reds had yet to sign their next four picks, including sandwich pick Mark Schramek, Kyle Edens, Camilo Vasquez and Kevin Howard. None was enrolled in school.

Schramek, a senior from Texas-San Antonio who was a surprise top 50 pick to begin with, reportedly was within $25,000 of signing but has since explored his options in Japan. Negotiations there were at an impasse, leaving Schramek with few options.

The Reds have a history of being creative when it comes to signing their picks. They were reportedly closing in on deals with Edens and Vasquez, though they are expected to wait until November–the start of the 2003 fiscal year–to make them official. This enables the Reds to draw from next year’s signing budget, much like they did in 1999 and 2000.

Unsigned Picks

A list of the players selected in the first 12 rounds of the 2002 draft who didn’t sign, and the college they’re attending. Players denoted with an asterisk are collegians who are returning to the same school. Teams control the rights to players attending junior college and may sign them next spring between the completion of their junior college season and the start of the closed period (one week before the draft).

Pick

Team, Player, Pos.

School

FIRST ROUND

1.

Pirates. Bryan Bullington, rhp

Not in school

4.

Orioles. Adam Loewen, lhp

Chipola (Fla.) JC

21.

Cubs. Bobby Brownlie, rhp

Not in school

28.

Mariners. John Mayberry Jr., 1b

Stanford

FIRST-ROUND SUPPLEMENTAL

40.

Reds. Mark Schramek, 3b

Eligibility expired

SECOND ROUND

50.

Rockies. Micah Owings, rhp

Georgia Tech

54.

Padres. Michael Johnson, 1b

*Clemson

65.

Braves. Tyler Greene, ss

Georgia Tech

THIRD ROUND

75.

Reds. Kyle Edens, rhp

Eligibility expired

83.

Marlins. Trevor Hutchinson, rhp

Eligibility expired

92.

Twins. Mark Sauls, rhp

Florida State

100.

Mariners. Eddy Martinez-Esteve, of

Florida State

FOURTH ROUND

103.

Pirates. Wardell Starling, rhp/of

Odessa (Texas) JC

105.

Reds. Camilo Vasquez, lhp

Not in school

FIFTH ROUND

134.

Devil Rays. Mark Romanczuk, lhp

Stanford

135.

Reds. Kevin Howard, 3b

Not in school

139.

Brewers. Jarrad Page, of

UCLA

143.

Marlins. Nick Hundley, c

Arizona

152.

Twins. Clete Thomas, of

Auburn

153.

Cubs. Shawn Scobee, of

Cal State Fullerton

155.

Braves. Kris Harvey, c/rhp

Clemson

161.

Astros. Pat Misch, lhp

*Western Michigan

162.

Cardinals. Josh Bell, c

Auburn

SIXTH ROUND

164.

Devil Rays. Cesar Ramos, lhp

Not in school

168.

Royals. Brandon Jones, 3b

Tallahassee (Fla.) CC

178.

Red Sox. Barrett Browning, lhp

Middle Georgia JC

180.

White Sox. Chris Getz, ss

Wake Forest

SEVENTH ROUND

204.

Angels. Jeff Leise, of

*Nebraska

205.

Padres. Matt Lynch, lhp

*Florida State

208.

Red Sox. Jason Neighborgall, rhp

Georgia Tech

215.

Braves. Patrick Clayton, rhp

Clemson

217.

Giants. Michael Musgrove, rhp

Central Florida CC

221.

Astros. Scott Robinson, 1b/of

Palomar (Calif.) JC

EIGHTH ROUND

227.

Expos. Friedel Pinkston, rhp

Chipola (Fla.) JC

229.

Brewers. Steve Kahn, rhp

Loyola Marymount

239.

Phillies. Steve Doetsch, of

Indian River (Fla.) CC

242.

Twins. Adam Lind, of

South Alabama

249.

Diamondbacks. Ryan Mahoney, c

South Carolina

NINTH ROUND

254.

Devil Rays. Chris Leroux, c

Winthrop

262.

Rangers. Steve Herce, rhp

*Rice

267.

Mets. Christian Colonel, ss

Texas Tech

271.

Dodgers. Denver Kitch, ss

*Oklahoma

275.

Braves. Nick Starnes, rhp

UNC Greensboro

10TH ROUND

287.

Expos. Justin Azze, lhp

Hawaii

309.

Diamondbacks. Mike Pierce, c

Fresno CC

311.

Astros. Brad Chester, rhp

Louisiana Tech

11TH ROUND

316.

Orioles. Mark McCormick, rhp

Baylor

318.

Royals. Kainoa Obrey, 3b

*Brigham Young

319.

Brewers. Brian Hernandez, c

Duke

329.

Phillies. T.J. Beam, rhp

*Mississippi

331.

Dodgers. James McDonald, 1b

Golden West (Calif.) JC

332.

Twins. Evan Meek, rhp

Midland (Texas) JC

12TH ROUND

358.

Red Sox. Dustin Majewski, of

*Texas

360.

White Sox. Jason Ruhlman, lhp

Central Michigan

362.

Twins. Jeff Clement, c

Southern California

367.

Giants. Kellen Ludwig, rhp

*Chipola (Fla.) JC


* Returned to previous school

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