By John Manuel
January 9, 2006
Two highly-placed sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, have confirmed to Baseball America that the Mets have agreed to terms with former Wichita State righthander Mike Pelfrey on a four-year major league contract. Calls to Scott Boras Corp., which represents Pelfrey, were not immediately returned.
One source with knowledge of the negotiations, however, indicated Pelfrey received a contract similar to but richer than that of Jeff Niemann, the former Rice pitcher whom the Devil Rays signed as the No. 4 overall pick in 2004. The source indicated Pelfrey received a signing bonus of $3.55 million (Niemann's was $3.2 million) with a contract guaranteeing Pelfrey $5.25 million. The difference is Pelfrey's deal is payable over four years, rather than five. Pelfrey could earn up to a maximum of $6.6 million if he's on the Mets' 25-man roster in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Pelfrey, 6-foot-7, 215 pounds, was the ninth overall pick. BA ranked him as the top pitcher in the draft, and he fell to No. 9 overall mostly due to his perceived price tag. His college career was impressive—his 12-3, 1.93 junior season left him at 33-7, 1.93 with 366 strikeouts and just 69 walks in 360 innings. He worked primarily with a four-seam fastball that sits in 93-96 mph with natural sink, as well as an above-average changeup. His curveball is a tick below average most of the time but has the makings of being an average pitch as well. Some scouts believe Pelfrey would be better off using a slider because of his arm slot and velocity.
His signing will be in plenty of time for him to report to his first spring training. The Mets started their 2004 first-rounder, Philip Humber, at high Class A St. Lucie, also a likely destination for Pelfrey's pro debut.
Pelfrey's signing leaves only another Boras client, righthander Luke Hochevar, as unsigned among highly drafted players in 2005. Hochever and the Dodgers, who picked him 40th overall, saw talks break down last September.