Sox Sign Several At Deadline

Rizzo headed for the GCL

The Red Sox came to terms with numerous draftees Wednesday, including Will Middlebrooks, Anthony Rizzo and David Mailman—the club's fifth-, sixth- and seventh-round picks—in the hours before the 11:59 p.m. deadline to ink players selected in the first-year player draft June 7-8. The Sox, however, were unable to reach a deal with second-round pick Hunter Morris. (FREE PREMIUM PREVIEW)

Sources also indicated the Sox signed 16th-round pick Austin Bailey while the club also reportedly signed 23rd-rounder Drake Britton. Reports the club had signed 17th-rounder Jaren Matthews were erroneous, as reported by the Bergen (NJ) Record Thursday.

All five draftees received signing bonuses far above the "slot" figures recommended by Major League Baseball. Middlebrooks, a pitcher and infielder from Liberty-Eylau High School in Texas who had a dual scholarship offer to play baseball and football at Texas A&M, received a bonus reportedly worth $925,000—more than four times the highest previous fifth-round bonus of $220,000 awarded to Tyrell Worthington by the Diamondbacks.

In addition, Michael Taylor—selected by the Phillies immediately before Middlebrooks—received a signing bonus of $131,000. Marc Rzepczynski, selected by the Blue Jays immediately after Middlebrooks, received a signing bonus of $110,000.

Rizzo, a first baseman from Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, told Diehard, shortly before 9 p.m. he'd signed with the Sox two hours earlier. He said he signed for $325,000. His bonus is so far the second-highest awarded to a sixth-round pick behind Cale Iorg, who received $1.5 million from the Tigers.

Matt Rizzotti, selected by the Phillies immediately before Rizzo, received a signing bonus of $120,000. Mike McDade, selected by the Blue Jays immediately after Rizzo, received a signing bonus of $115,000.

"I was pretty confident that we were going to be able to work something out," Rizzo said. "It was just a lot of trying to get the number to where I'd be happy and they would be happy."

Had he not signed with the Sox, Rizzo would have attended Florida Atlantic University. Instead, Rizzo—who was in Boston for a physical Monday—said he will report Friday to the Sox' rookie-level Gulf Coast League affiliate in Ft. Myers, FL.

Asked if he will play for the GCL Sox—whose season is scheduled to conclude Aug. 26—Rizzo said "Definitely."

Mailman, a first baseman/outfielder from Providence High School in North Carolina, signed for a reported bonus of $550,000. Tyson Brummett, selected immediately before Mailman, received a signing bonus of $25,000 from the Phillies. Randy Boone, selected immediately after Mailman, had yet to sign with the Blue Jays as of earlier Wednesday but was reportedly asking for a signing bonus of $50,000. The previous highest bonus for a 2007 seventh-rounder was $123,000, which the Marlins and Astros awarded to Andrew Paulauskas and Fletcher Dixon, respectively.

Mailman's imminent signing was first reported Tuesday afternoon by Diehard. He had a scholarship offer from Wake Forest.

Diehard was also the first to report some details of the Bailey signing. Bailey, a pitcher from Prattville High School in Alabama, will get "...more than third round money," according to a source, to forego a scholarship offer to Alabama. The bonus is reportedly worth $285,000.

The Sox' third-round pick, high school pitcher Brock Huntzinger, signed for $225,000. The highest signing bonus awarded to a 2007 third-round pick thus far went to Nick Barnese, who received $366,000 from the Devil Rays.

Britton, a graduate of Tomball High School in Texas who had a scholarship offer from Texas A&M, reportedly received $700,000, which is higher than the bonuses received by the Sox' top two draft picks, pitcher Nick Hagadone ($571,500) and shortstop Ryan Dent ($571,000).

The negotiations, meanwhile, with Morris—an infielder from Virgil I. Grissom High School in Alabama—appeared to falter long before the deadline. A source said there was no recent communication between the two sides and that the Sox' last offer to Hunter was for below-slot money. Morris, who has a scholarship to Auburn, is enrolled at the school and preparing for the fall semester.

Initial post-draft signs seemed to point towards an eventual agreement between the Sox and Morris, who was selected with the 84th overall pick. Morris' coach, Adam Moseley, said he was confident Morris would sign with the Sox. Boston scout Danny Watkins has a lot of experience tracking Alabama high schoolers—he scouted Bailey as well as 2006 second-rounder Caleb Clay—and the Sox had been on Morris since last season.

Because they did not sign Morris, the Sox will get a compensatory pick immediately after the 84th pick in next year's draft. Morris is not eligible again for the draft until after the 2010 season.

The Sox signed 12 of their first 13 selections. For more on the Sox draftees, please CLICK HERE for our draft central page. And for the best coverage of the Red Sox and their prospects, CLICK HERE today for diehardmagazine.com's premium coverage!


Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at diehardmag@yahoo.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752.

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