Padres, Whitson Can't Reach A Deal

Missed signing a first for San Diego

SAN DIEGO—In 41 drafts, covering 76 first-round picks, the Padres have made their share of mistakes. Several picks barely got a cup of coffee in the big leagues, though just eight of the organization's 34 first choices through 2005 have failed to make it to the big leagues.

Included in that mix are the head-scratcher choices that were Georgia outfielder Jeff Pyburn in 1980, outfielder Vince Faison in 1999, lefthander Mark Phillips in 2000 and infielder Jake Gautreau in 2001. And there was the disaster that was local star infielder Matt Bush—the No. 1 overall pick in 2004.

Never, however, had the team failed to sign its first selection. Not even in the lean years of the 1970s, when money was tight and victories were hard to come by.

But Florida high school righthander Karsten Whitson—the ninth overall pick—thumbed his nose at a signing bonus of close to $2.2 million this year, setting a $2.7 million asking price just 15 minutes before the deadline.
And the Padres walked away.

So Whitson plans to pitch for the University of Florida. And the Padres will get the 11th pick in the 2011 draft, as well as what they hope is a late pick after a 2010 playoff run.

The immediate reaction is to blame the Padres for being cheap, not wanting to pony up the money, but the organization's offer to Whitson was over the recommended slot. The team spent $3,801,700 on the rest of its picks in the first 10 rounds.

"I'm proud of what we did and how my staff handled everything," general manager Jed Hoyer said. "It didn't work out with Whitson. We thought we had a deal in place. But we like what we did in the draft, and we'll move forward."


• High Class A Lake Elsinore closer Brad Brach posted his 38th save of the season and added a 39th a few days later, breaking the California League record, a mark set in 1969.

• Padres bench coach Ted Simmons will manage the Peoria Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League this year.