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Powell to MLB: Nevermind

By Allan Simpson

August 28, 2000

Landon Powell
Photo: Mark Derewicz

Landon Powell, a high school junior who successfully gained free agency from Major League Baseball when he slipped through the draft, decided Monday that he will no longer pursue his goal to sign a professional contract this summer.

Powell's father Ron said his son will return to Apex (N.C.) High to start his senior year on Tuesday. He already had missed his first two weeks of classes while assessing his options.

"It's time to move on," the elder Powell said. "I think we've been fair. The 28th (of August) was the date we set as a deadline, and we have never received a written contract."

Powell indicated his son would complete his requirements for a high school degree in December, and at that time would weigh a decision to return to high school or attend college at South Carolina, where he has been accepted.

If he returns to high school, he would be eligible for the draft again next June. If he goes to college, he will not be eligible for the draft until 2003.

By slipping through the draft, Powell hoped to maximize his bargaining power by being able to negotiate on the open market with all 30 major league clubs. He worked out several times in the past two weeks for scouts, impressing them with his power and arm strength, but just six clubs showed more than a passing interest in the 6-foot-4, 205-pound catcher.

"Through this process, we have determined that major league baseball teams are not willing to commit to Landon in a way that we feel would be worthy of him giving up a valuable life experience of going through college," Ron Powell told Baseball America.

Powell, who is being advised by noted agent Scott Boras, said he will not pursue legal action against Major League Baseball. The family considered it as a way to restore negotiating time that was lost while the commissioner's office decided whether Powell obtained a valid general equivalency diploma in May. The commissioner's office issued its ruling Aug. 9, more than two months after the draft.

Powell did imply, however, that outside pressure was put on clubs not to make a sizable offer to his son at a time when clubs are trying to hold the line (or reduce) bonus payments to draft picks.

"Several clubs wanted an idea on what we were looking for," Powell said. "We told them we thought he was the equivalent of a high first-round pick and a free agent, and should base their offer on that criteria. But baseball did not show the willingness to make a commitment to him."

Powell, 18, was rated the No. 2 high school player in the Class of 2001 prior to last season and led Apex High to the North Carolina 4-A title.

Two other Boras clients, outfielder Patrick Boyd and first baseman Taggert Bozied, have returned to school and are no longer eligible to sign. Boyd, a fourth-round pick of the Pirates, returned to Clemson, while Bozied, a second-round pick of the Twins, went back to San Francisco.

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