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Braves Sign First-Round Pick

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Maurice Patton of The Tennessean reports this morning that the Braves and seventh overall pick left-handed pitcher Mike Minor have agreed to terms on a $2.42 million signing bonus, which will rank as the highest ever for a Braves player (ahead of Jeff Francoeur's $2.2 million), and the highest ever for a #7 pick (ahead of Prince Fielder's $2.4 million).  Minor will report to the Rome Braves in the South Atlantic League and get some pro innings under his belt; he and his agent then hope the Braves will invite him to pitch in the Arizona Fall League thereafter.  The bonus is in line with the 2008 slot recommendations, and is thus $242,000 above the 2009 slot bonus (the '09 slots were reduced 10% due to the economic downturn).

I can't say I'm all that pumped up about this news.  One of Minor's big selling points was his signability, as there were more talented players still on the board at #7.  It was thought that Minor would sign quickly and cheaply, and save the Braves the hassle of dealing with drawn-out or expensive negotiations in a poor economic climate.  But Minor still gets paid fairly significantly overslot, and the payday doesn't make him a better prospect...he still looks like a future #3 workhorse at best.  At worst, you're talking about a decent back-end starter who gives you innings and little more.  Frankly, with the 2010 draft class shaping up to be more top-heavy than the 2009 one, I might have liked to see the Braves just pass on signing Minor and take the #8 pick in next year's draft, thankyouverramuch.  Then again, Roy Clark & Co. are still the best scouts in the business, so I maintain some hope that there's something about Minor that most analysts are missing.  Either way, I expect Minor to move quickly and probably open 2010 at Mississippi.

With the signing of 22nd-round pick Ryan Weber last week, just two of the Braves' top 23 picks remain unsigned.  Weber was a very good sign for the team, as he's got far more potential than his draft position would suggest (fun fact: Tommy Hanson was also selected in the 22nd round).  The two left unsigned are sixth-round RHP Ryan Woolley (who is currently struggling in the Alaskan Baseball League, so the Braves may just elect to let him return to school), and fifteenth-round Colorado high school catcher Bennett Pickar (who will be tough to lure away from a commitment to Oral Roberts).

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