Orioles Narrowly Get Machado In The Fold

BALTIMORE—The Orioles reached a contract agreement with their top pick, shortstop Manny Machado, about one minute before the midnight deadline.

That was the hard part.

Machado signed his $5.25 million deal in Miami and was assigned to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. The team promoted him to short-season Aberdeen before the New York-Penn League season drew to a close.

That's the easy part.

"Well, that night was just going crazy with my family here and the negotiations," said Machado, the third overall pick in the draft out of Brito Miami Private High. "At the end, it was a great night. It was, you know, pretty exciting that a deal got done. All through the process, I kind of had an idea of what I was going to do.

"At some point, I did think I was going to go to college."

Forget rumors that Machado, 18, and the first overall selection, Bryce Harper, had considered attending junior college together and re-entering the draft next spring. That was just Facebook foolishness.

"We really never talked about it," Machado said. "We were having fun over a little status thing."

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Machado didn't play baseball this summer, but he kept working out while the Orioles negotiated a deal.

"I was catching ground balls and doing hitting stuff," he said. "Probably just going to be a little rusty, seeing live pitching, but I can't wait to get suited up and start playing professional ball."

Asked what he needs to improve on, Machado replied, "I would say I've still got to work on my fielding, my footwork and my defensive footwork. And just get stronger."

The Orioles won't assign Machado to the Arizona Fall League. He could get some at-bats in the Dominican this winter.

Again, that's the easy part compared to beating the midnight deadline.

"For us to have a really good draft," scouting director Joe Jordan said, "we had to sign this player."

Bird Seed

• Righthander Chris Tillman was expected to rejoin the Orioles in September. Tillman had pitched mostly at Triple-A Norfolk after making 12 starts for the Orioles in 2009. He threw a no-hitter at Norfolk earlier this summer and was 10-7, 3.53 in 115 innings with the Tides.

• Righthander Dan Klein, the Orioles' third-round pick out of UCLA, made his professional debut with short-seaosn Aberdeen. Klein threw a perfect inning, getting two groundball outs and one in the air. He projects as a starter, but will work out of the bullpen this summer.