Angels Sign O'Sullivan

Braves, Padres sign several draft-and-follows as closed period begins





See also: Top Draft-And-Follows Re-Enter Draft


Sean O'Sullivan, one of the highest unsigned picks from last year's draft, became the highest draft-and-follow to sign this year when he agreed to terms with the Angels.

The Angels made O'Sullivan a third-round pick last year, and he decided to pitch at Grossmont (Calif.) College this spring rather than signing. One source with knowledge of the negotiations said he received a $500,000 bonus, which is about the same offer he turned down last fall.

"Sean had a great year for us and was a hard worker," Grossmont coach Randy Abshier said. "I'm excited for him that he gets to begin his professional career."

O'Sullivan entered 2005 as one of the top high school pitchers in the draft, and his inconsistent spring performance caused his stock to drop. He had committed to San Diego State but decided instead to attend junior college, which allowed him to go back into this year's draft if he didn't sign.

Teams retain negotiating rights for drafted players who attend junior college until a week before the next year's draft, which allows them to follow the players for a year before deciding whether to sign them. That's why the process is known as draft and follow.

O'Sullivan remained a potent two-way threat in junior college, finishing the season as Grossmont’s top hitter (.405-7-39) and pitcher (7-3, 1.87). He led his conference in batting and ranked second in ERA. He ranked No. 131 on Baseball America's Top 200 Prospects for the 2006 draft.

O’Sullivan's draft stock didn't rise with his performance, however. He struck out just 57 in 77 innings (while walking 12), and while his fastball and fastball command were still seen as pluses at times, his velocity varied. The consensus of scouts and junior-college coaches who saw him this spring was that O'Sullivan threw his best early in the season--at times sitting at 92-93 mph with a solid-average slider--and then throttled back, settling into the 87-90 range.

O'Sullivan will head to Arizona to the Angels extended spring training camp and then report to Rookie-level Orem in the Pioneer League.

--JOHN MANUEL

Padres Sign Trio

SAN DIEGO--The Padres got a jump on the 2006 draft by signing three pitchers from last year's crop: righthanders Aaron Breit, Drew Miller and Robert Garramone.

"This is huge for us," Padres scouting director Bill Gayton said. "All three are nice, tall-body kids. And all throw hard. This is great for us as we prepare for the draft."

Breit ranked No. 145 on Baseball America's Top 200 Prospects for the 2006 draft. He was a 12th-round pick last season out of Garden City (Kan.) Community College. He was 7-4 this season at Garden City with 93 strikeouts in 68 innings. Gayton said Breit's fastball has topped out at 95 mph. He had committed to play at Kansas next season. The Padres also drafted Breit on the 46th round in 2004 out of Thomas Moore Prep in Hays, Kan.

Miller ranked No. 197 on BA’s Top 200. He was a 37th-round pick last season out of Seminole (Okla.) State Junior College. He had 76 strikeouts in 50 innings this season and had signed to play at Virginia. Gayton said Miller's fastball topped out at 96 mph.

Garramone, whose fastball has been clocked at 91 mph, was a 29th-round pick last year out of Denver North High.

"We've had a lot of success with draft-and-follow kids," Gayton said of a farm system whose best current hitting prospect, catcher George Kottaras, was a draft-and-follow signee. "We think we got three live arms here."

--JOHN MAFFEI

FOLLOW THROUGHS

• The Royals signed one of their most significant draft-and-follow choices in righthander Bryan Casey out of Arizona Western Junior College. Casey, a hard-throwing closer who also played third base, was headed to Pacific to both hit and pitch had he not signed. He received a $235,000 bonus.

• The Braves, as expected, were major draft-and-follow players and signed several of their top picks. Righthander Tommy Hanson, who used excellent command of his fastball to dominate California's juco ranks this spring at Riverside Community College, signed, as did slugging first baseman Tyler Flowers out of Chipola (Fla.) Junior College. Flowers hit 16 homers this spring and also plays catcher, though his defensive tools are below-average. Among the Braves other signees were Manatee (Fla.) Junior College righthander James Curtis and speedy College of Southern Nevada outfielder Cole Miles.

• The Dodgers signed two draft-and-follows, lefthander Schuyler Tripp and third baseman Brian Mathews. Tripp signed for a $15,000 bonus despite dropping out of Indian Hills (Iowa) CC this spring. He showed enough velocity and arm strength to merit signing while pitching at Perfect Game USA's pre-draft showcase in his native Iowa.

• Several high-profile draft-and-follows were still playing the Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colo. That included the 10 players under control at Yavapai (Ariz.) Junior College, a list that includes outfielder Shane Keough (Athletics) and infielder Milton Loo (Reds). Those players have until 48 hours after their team's final game to sign.

• Several fifth-year seniors have signed before the draft. The list includes Tennessee first baseman Chris Kemp, who signed with the Rangers after hitting .314-11-41 for the Vols this season; Southeastern Louisiana righthander Jeremy Mizell, who signed with the Mets as the Lions' career leader in innings and strikeouts (299 IP, 235 Ks); Citadel lefty Ryan Owens; and Iowa lefthander Tim Gudex, who signed the Cubs after posting back-to-back seasons with ERAs at 1.11 and 1.15. The Giants also signed righthander Ryan McGrath out of Division II Cal State Stanislaus.