Cubs Give 11th-Rounder Huseby Record Bonus
Prep pitcher signs for $1.3 million after pitching five innings this spring
The Cubs made plenty of news with their selections in the 2006 draft in June. They didn't stop making news with their first two picks, though.
After drafting Clemson outfielder Tyler Colvin with the 13th overall pick and signing fifth-rounder Jeff Samardzija to a contract that could pay him a record $7.25 million signing bonus if he eventually chooses baseball over football, the Cubs have signed a third player to a significant signing bonus.
That player is righthander Chris Huseby, their 11th-round pick out of Martin County High in Stuart, Fla. The Cubs have signed him for $1.3 million, a figure that his agent, Mark Rodgers (also Samardzija's representative) confirmed in an interview with TCPalm.com, a website for newspapers on Florida's Treasure Coast. Huseby's bonus is the largest for an 11th-rounder in draft history, surpassing the $550,000 the Rangers gave Miami righthander Kiki Bengochea in 2002.
In an interview conducted soon after the draft, Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken said Huseby's signing was the product of hard work by Rolondo Pino, the Cubs' area scout in south Florida. Pino and other scouts first noticed Huseby as a possibly elite prospect when he was a high school sophomore, as he pitched for USA Baseball's youth national team in 2004. At 6-foot-6, he already had a projectable pitcher's body, but he injured his elbow as a high school junior and had Tommy John surgery in March 2005.
"When I first saw him pitch, I could see he had good arm strength and size as a 10th-grader," Pino told TCPalm.com. "Sure enough, he's gotten bigger and stronger. It's just a shame he got injured when he did."
Huseby returned in 2006 to play DH for his high school team while working his way back to the mound. According to Wilken, Huseby made four appearances, totalling five innings. Pino wanted Huseby so much, he followed him and his team across the state to Willston (located about halfway between Tampa and Jacksonville) on the hope that Huseby would pitch. He didn't that day, but Pino saw three of his four outings. The Cubs also were able to sneak in crosschecker Sammy Hughes to see Huseby, and Hughes saw his fastball sit in the 90-93 mph range during his one inning of work.
In April—just before Huseby pitched in his first game for Martin High this year--the Cubs obtained positive medical reports on Huseby, now listed at 6-foot-7 and 210 pounds. They also had an in with Rodgers, a long-time friend of Cubs general manager Jim Hendry who once coached high school ball with Hendry in the Miami area in the early 1980s. Rodgers set up a workout for Huseby and the teams pursuing him, which also included the Orioles, Cardinals and Mets. At the workout, Huseby showed the same fastball velocity, touched a 94, and threw a hard 78 mph curveball while showing a feel for a changeup.
Huseby wasn't entirely convinced he was going to be drafted due to his injury and made a late commitment to Auburn, whose recruiting coordinator and pitching coach, Butch Thompson, had followed Huseby. Huseby's family said it would take first-round money for the righty to bypass college, and the Cubs had enough of a track record on Huseby (including crosschecking him this spring) to feel comfortable rolling the dice.
The Cubs, who didn't have selections in rounds two, three or four last month, also have signed Oregon prep outfielder Drew Rundle. The Bend High grad and Arizona recruit signed for a reported $500,000. He has reported to the Rookie-level Arizona League, where Huseby will soon join him.