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Mayberry attends class; Baker signs

By John Manuel
October 8, 2002

Jeff Baker has crossed his name off the unsigned draft picks list. John Mayberry Jr., however, will not.

Baker and the Rockies have agreed to a major league contract while Mayberry rejected the Mariners' last offer. The 28th overall selection attended his first class at Stanford. Mayberry now is not eligible for the draft until 2005. It's the first time the Mariners have failed to sign their first-round pick since 1989, when righthander Scott Burrell chose college basketball at Connecticut instead of a pro baseball career.

"We made him a good offer, higher than the people around him," said Roger Jongewaard, the Mariners' vice president of scouting and player development. "But we knew we would have to come in a little higher."

Mayberry, the son of the ex-big leaguer of the same name, hit .432-9-29 as a senior at Rockhurst High in Kansas City. He was the No. 8 prospect overall entering the 2002 draft.

Stanford righthander Jeremy Guthrie, the Indians' first-round pick, did not attend class and is not on campus. Negotiations continue, but Guthrie, 23, is not expected to return to school.

baker
Jeff Baker
Baker also had the option of returning to school, but chose not to. Instead he spent his first summer out of a Team USA uniform since 1998. He played for the junior national team in 1999 and for the college national team the last two summers.

"I'm staying in shape so ... I can get out to instructional league and get started," he said. "This summer I was definitely ready to play and I wanted to play, but it didn't work out. I tried to make the best of the situation and stay ready."

Baker's contract will include $2 million guaranteed, with a $50,000 bonus this year and $150,000 in 2003, with the remaining $1.8 million spread out in salary over four years. He has roster and service-time bonuses built into the contract as well.

Baker sounded like a player ready to move on with his career. Named one of the Atlantic Coast Conference's top 50 players of all time (in conjunction with the league's 50th anniversary), Baker nevertheless had a difficult junior season in 2002. He was a first-team All-American for the second year in a row, hitting .325-25-87, but the average was the lowest of his career.

Concerns over his ability to hit with wood and his perceived bonus demands, helped drop Clemson's career home run leader to the fourth round, where the Rockies selected him. Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd and Byrnes both were with the Indians (Byrnes as scouting director) when that organization drafted Baker out of high school (also in the fourth round) in 1999.

Baker said he was working out at home with family friend Mike Colangelo, a former big leaguer. He spent three weeks this summer in Nashville, Tenn., working with former Clemson assistant coach Tim Corbin, now the head coach at Vanderbilt.

In other draft news, another unsigned player remained undecided. California righthander Trevor Hutchinson, the Marlins' third-round pick. Hutchinson, a Boras client, has completed his eligibility but still was negotiating.

"We disagree on where his value is," Marlins scouting director Stan Meek said. "It happens in a lot of negotiations. We still like him a lot.

"We're hopeful we can have him signed at least by spring training. It looks like he's probably not going to be signed in time for instructional league."

Other unsigned picks include No. 1 overall pick Bryan Bullington, still negotiating with the Pirates; righthander Bobby Brownlie (Cubs, No. 22 overall); and a trio of Reds selections--supplemental first-rounder Mark Schramek, third-rounder Kyle Edens and fifth-rounder Kevin Howard.

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