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Cole, Solis, Ray sign [updated]

Aug 16, 2010, 11:00 PM EST

UPDATE AT 10:08 P.M. — The Nationals just officially announced the signing of fourth-round pick A.J. Cole, the right-hander from Florida who was threatening to enroll at the University of Miami.

Cole is believed to have received a $2 million signing bonus, a record for a fourth-round pick.

The 18-year-old went a combined 12-1 and struck out 10.7 batters per nine innings during his junior and senior years at Oviedo High School. A 6-foot-5 right-hander, he has an arsenal of pitches typically found with first-rounders, including a fastball that reaches 97 mph, a power curveball and a changeup.

Thus, the Nats have now signed 24 of their top 26 draft picks. They won't be signing 14th rounder Tim Smalling. They've got less than two hours to sign Bryce Harper.

UPDATE AT 8:22 P.M. — The Nationals have now announced the signing of second-round pick Sammy Solis, a left-hander from the University of San Diego.

Solis, who is believed to have received a $1 million signing bonus, was 9-2 with a 3.42 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) as a redshirt sophomore. (He missed 2009 with a back injury.)

A 6-foot-5, 225-pounder, Solis has a fastball that tops out at 92 mph and two varieties of breaking balls: an over-the-top, 80 mph curveball that is his "out" pitch and a mid-70s "slurve" that breaks on more of a diagonal plane.

Still no word on fourth-rounder A.J. Cole, but I suspect we'll get that announcement in the next hour or two…

ORIGINAL POST AT 7:00 P.M. — Just got to Nationals Park, gearing up for a long night of waiting for something to happen, and lo and behold I'm greeted by a press release announcing the signing of a draft pick!

Just not THAT draft pick.

The Nationals have signed 12th rounder Robbie Ray, the high school left-hander from Tennessee who toured the ballpark Saturday in a Nats cap and personalized jersey as part of a hard sell from members of the front office. Obviously, it worked, because Ray elected to sign a pro contract instead of playing in college at Arkansas as he had previously committed.

Baseball America's Jim Callis reported yesterday that Ray had signedRead more »

  1. BQ - Aug 16, 2010 at 11:07 PM

    I am glad we are signing these people but all draftees are getting way overpaid.

  2. markfd - Aug 16, 2010 at 11:15 PM

    Mark,Any news on where Robbie will be assigned?

  3. Mark Zuckerman - Aug 16, 2010 at 11:17 PM

    markfd: No official word on anything like that, but just about every high school draftee who signs reports to the Gulf Coast League in Viera. A lot of college signees go there, too, though some of the more-advanced guys go straight to short-season Class A Vermont.

  4. Anonymous - Aug 16, 2010 at 11:28 PM

    Mark,Assuming he signs, can Harper play in the Arizona Fall League this season or would he have to get a major league deal (which I highly doubt)?Farid

  5. Mark Zuckerman - Aug 16, 2010 at 11:31 PM

    Farid: There's nothing preventing Harper for playing in Arizona this fall — well, except for the rule that says each club can only send one player who hasn't reached Class AA, though they got an exception last year and had both Strasburg and Espinosa — but I don't think Harper will head there this fall. The AFL is a "finishing school" for top prospects, kind of a last step before reaching the majors. Harper is at least two years from playing in the big leagues, so no real reason to send him to AZ now.

  6. JaneB - Aug 17, 2010 at 12:03 AM

    We are so lucky to be able to have this dialogue with you Mark. I didn't realize AZ League was anything special. So who from us goes there this year? Espinosa again, do you think?

  7. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 12:11 AM

    BQ said… I am glad we are signing these people but all draftees are getting way overpaid. —————-Jeez….people complain when we DON'T pay for draft picks and then when we get them, people complain about OVERPAYING?Gotta love all the arm-chair GM's here in DC…

  8. Mark Zuckerman - Aug 17, 2010 at 12:13 AM

    JaneB: That's a good question. Players are allowed to go back to AZ for a second season, so Espinosa could go back. I wonder if it might depend on whether he gets called up to the majors next month or not.Oh, and for what it's worth, Espinosa started at second base tonight at Syracuse, the first time he's played there since his promotion to AAA. Perhaps setting him up to play some 2B in the majors before the season's over?

  9. TimDz - Aug 17, 2010 at 12:13 AM

    Mark,Great forum you have here…Do you think that, once they sign Harper (can't see them not reaching a deal, as Harper has far too much to loose by not signing), is this a slam-dunk for most successful draft class to date?

  10. Mark Zuckerman - Aug 17, 2010 at 12:19 AM

    TimDz: Well, I believe this would be the most top draft picks they've ever signed (25 of 26, all but 14th rounder Timothy Smalling). So I guess in that respect you could say it's their most successful draft class.But I'd caution against getting too worked up over these things at this point, because you never know how these players will pan out. You may remember that the Nats were applauded from all over the baseball world in 2007 for drafting and signing three top left-handers: Ross Detwiler, Josh Smoker and Jack McGeary. How'd that work out?

  11. HabsProf - Aug 17, 2010 at 12:22 AM

    Hmmm…. trying Espinosa at 2nd. Given the error prone ways of Desmond, might it not make more sense to move Ian and let Espinosa continue at SS? I realize Kobernus is considered a few years away, but he's a natural 2nd and Espinosa is a natural SS.Just a thought.

  12. Richard - Aug 17, 2010 at 12:25 AM

    How about giving Desmond credit for range? He gets to more balls than most SS. Hopely the errors are reduced after this, his rookie year.

  13. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 12:32 AM

    HabsProf – Aren't all shortstops natural second basemen? Or pretty much natural anything but catchers?

  14. HabsProf - Aug 17, 2010 at 12:34 AM

    Actually, I always give Desmond credit. Truth is, I've thought he has had a decent (if unspectacular) rookie season. But, if memory serves, the yips on routine plays have plagued him throughout his career, so I don't look at him like Zimmerman, whose large number of errors in his rookie year was uncharacteristic of his previous work.I realize the problems are now, this season. We want to give Espinosa a tryout and we want to keep playing Desmond. Throw in the fact that Espinosa can practice 2nd in the minors, and the move makes sense. But for the long run, if one is going to move, it might (emphasis on might) make more sense to move Desmond.

  15. Mark Zuckerman - Aug 17, 2010 at 12:38 AM

    For those who haven't noticed it yet, I updated the top of this posting: they've officially signed Sammy Solis now.I think I'll plan on posting updates at the top of this with each subsequent bit of news (Cole, then Harper) so make sure you check back for that.

  16. TimDz - Aug 17, 2010 at 12:38 AM

    Ray and then Solis….Next hour, it will be Cole…Then a long break while Boras and Rizzo bang out the Harper deal.Mark, does Boras have any other unsigned players? This could factor in to the time frame it takes to finalize the Harper negotiations…then again, Boras will probably stretch this out to 11:59 PM….

  17. Mark Zuckerman - Aug 17, 2010 at 12:46 AM

    TimDz: Boras has four unsigned first-round picks, including Harper. So look for the signings to come in the 11:00 hour, from the bottom up.

  18. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 1:12 AM

    Still linking to that offensive Needham post, eh Mark? What's up with that? I would've expected better from you.

  19. Anonymous8 - Aug 17, 2010 at 1:18 AM

    Anon at 9:12pm. For those of us that don't know much, who is Needham?

  20. Doc - Aug 17, 2010 at 1:47 AM

    @Richard: Correctomundo sportsfan! Desmond's RF(range factor)is only exceeded by Escobar when he played for the Braves (4.70 vs. 4.86). Escobar's current stats with the Jays, give Desmond a slight edge.Haven't compared all of them but Desmond has got Jeter, Scutaro, O. Cabrera, Rollins, Reyes, H.Ramirez, A.Gonzalez,Jays(now Braves) all beat in RF!Notice that Desmond's hitting may soon put him 3rd in Nats RBIs–he has beat out The Hammer.

  21. Mark Zuckerman - Aug 17, 2010 at 2:16 AM

    And now A.J. Cole has officially signed, as you can read above. We're down to one guy, less than two hours to go.

  22. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 2:21 AM

    Needham is the hatemonger who proudly brings us gems like this, clearly available to the right in Mark's links scrollbar. I presume this means Mark places his seal of approval on this kind of thing.

  23. Andrew - Aug 17, 2010 at 2:23 AM

    Way to go. Many thought picking Cole was a waste as he wouldn't sign, and they made it happen. This is a 1st round value with great up-side!

  24. Nate - Aug 17, 2010 at 2:38 AM

    Solis, Cole, Ray… frankly this is a great draft already, no matter what happens at midnight.@Anon 10:21 PM: From that link it would appear the only thing Needham hates is Dibble. That's hardly a unique sentiment. And if putting another Nats blogger in your blogroll is an endorsement, I suppose publishing a web log in the first place is giving your seal of approval to the entire internet, right?

  25. nattaboy - Aug 17, 2010 at 2:45 AM

    Pretty sure the links are automatically posted based on how recent they are (which is a pretty cool feature) why don't you tell us what the piece is about instead of giving the guy more hits? Great work by Rizz so far.Mark – what's the atmosphere with the press types there? Bored, loopy? Seems like an interesting night to be at the park. Thanks!

  26. greg - Aug 17, 2010 at 2:46 AM

    he had a good point, too. dibble was whining about the women talking and ignoring the game… while he was talking about them and ignoring the game.

  27. Tim Dz - Aug 17, 2010 at 2:58 AM

    T- Minus 62 minutes….Mark…Any movement on the other Boras clients yet?

  28. Richard - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:01 AM

    Great news re Cole, Solis and Ray. Hats off to the Lerners and Mike Rizzo and company for the commitment. What could Riggs and Nats do with a solid rotation? The Nats are certainly building a foundation for one. I hope we get a chance to find out.

  29. David - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:02 AM

    Jameson Taillon, the no. 2 overall pick, is in agreement with the pirates for a bit more than $5 mil. Harper will get more than that.

  30. Mark Zuckerman - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:02 AM

    Tim Dz: One of Boras' four first-rounders (the Giants' Gary Brown) signed about an hour ago. He's still got Harper, Manny Machado (Orioles) and Matt Harvey (Mets) to go in this final hour.Oh, and Nattaboy: We're all having a blast here in the press box, watching MLB Network, joking around with each other and pre-writing our stories (as much as we can before knowing the final outcome).

  31. Suicide Squeeze - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:04 AM

    Rizzo has now "turned" two guys supposedly going to school this year and hence not drafted earlier. (Sorry Miami and Arkansas!)And how? With the Lerners money — how many times do you need to hear "record" and "above slot" before folks stop calling them cheap?

  32. TimDz - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:09 AM

    Squeeze…you'll never change the mindset of such folks…

  33. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:15 AM

    "@Anon 10:21 PM: From that link it would appear the only thing Needham hates is Dibble."It's not his hatred of Dibble I would object to, Mark, but rather his exceedingly crude way of expressing it. NSFW to put it mildly. But, hey, if that's the kind of thing you don't mind sharing with your blog readers why don't you just go for the big bucks and start taking ads for adult products and services?

  34. David - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:20 AM

    In other news Nyjer Morgan went 0 for 3 with a BB and SO at Hagerstown tonight.

  35. nattaboy - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:27 AM

    No coverage whatsoever from espn or MLB network. Good thing our humble beat writer is on the case

  36. raymitten - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:32 AM

    "how many times do you need to hear "record" and "above slot" before folks stop calling them cheap?" I can hear "above slot" and "record" until hell freezes over. When I hear "Nationals sign Adam Dunn" then I will no longer be concerned that they are cheap.

  37. Anonymous8 - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:35 AM

    Last year ESPN had great coverage on the Strasburg signing deadline so maybe nobody cares anymore but the die-hards!

  38. Grandstander - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:36 AM

    "how many times do you need to hear "record" and "above slot" before folks stop calling them cheap?"If we consider Harper, Cole, Solis and Ray, that means they will have spent around $12 million, depending on what Harper signs for of course. That's including the best hitting prospect in a generation. I think Rizzo sold the Lerners on the idea of, pay a little now, and get a bargain later. And I think the other side of that coin is not paying big money for FAs when you don't have a shot at the playoffs. That means the big man is gone. If you look at Marquis, that wasn't big money, and he wasn't there for his amazing arm, he was there to eat innings.I don't necessarily think it's a bad idea either, mind you. Why throw good money away when we don't have a chance? But you better sign the prospects we have a shot at now, to ensure we have a young, dynamic team in 2/3 years to pad with veteran FAs.

  39. greg - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:40 AM

    i think the team needs to spend on reasonably priced FAs now. marquis was a reasonable risk that hasn't panned out so far. dunn was a reasonable FA contract that has paid great dividends. but neither was for more than 2 yrs, so neither contract hamstrung the team for future signings.

  40. TimDz - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:41 AM

    Mark…who was the last Boras client to NOT sign by the deadline?

  41. Anonymous8 - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:42 AM

    raymitten – It takes 2 sides to agree on any deal. On the Dunn deal it isn't about the dollars per year, it is the number of years that is the sticking point.

  42. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:45 AM

    OMG OMG did you like totally hear that Bryce is thinking about going to college next year? But like his friend said he was so ready to play baseball. I'm like so confused…The kid's 17. It's past his bedtime. When was the last time you sat up until midnight waiting for a 17 year old (other than with the intention of chewing him out about the 10 o'clock curfew)?

  43. Richard - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:48 AM

    "Why throw good money away when we don't have a chance?" Because the FANS are paying money, lots of money, to see the Nats win plus an entertaining show. Dunn helps on all fronts. Imagine that batting order without him. Geeeeez. Otherwise fans can go to Hagerstown or the Pfitz to see baseball.Obviously, I, like Boswell and many others, want the Nats to sign Dunn.

  44. David - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:49 AM

    bryce harper said getting "close'' to a deal with #nats. believed worth close to $10 million in total.

  45. Grandstander - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:54 AM

    Don't get me wrong, as I'm a FAN as well, and I pay lots of money to see them, and I would be devastated if we lost Dunn. I'm saying that's how Rizzo sold them on spending all this money on draft picks. Signing AJ Cole, who projects as a first rounder, over slot does not mean the Lerners aren't cheap. Until they really put the dough on the table we won't know what we have. The only thing we DO know, is we have a capable GM running the FO, which is more than we could say 2 years ago.

  46. raymitten - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:58 AM

    According to Boswell, Dunn will sign a three year deal for $40 million. Three years for Dunn, he's already compromised, because by all reports he originally wanted 4. While it may or may not be about annual salary, it IS about money.

  47. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:05 AM

    check bryce harpers facebook page…employers=washington nationals!!

  48. TimDz - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:06 AM

    per Nationals signed first-overall pick Bryce Harper for about $6.5MM, according to Jim Bowden of Sirius XM Radio (Twitter links). As expected, the sides did not announce a deal until the last minute.The buzz surrounding Harper started last year, when he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 16-year-old. Harper, still just 17, got his GED early, enrolled at the College of Southern Nevada and won the 2010 Golden Spikes Award as the country’s top amateur player

  49. David - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:06 AM

    keithlaw 1. MarkZuckerman Bryce Harper has signed with the #Nats: less than a minute ago via web

  50. Suicide Squeeze - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:07 AM


  51. Anonymous8 - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:08 AM

    Raymitten – No, it is about years. They will have to pay another 1st baseman when Dunn leaves so that is how it works. The Nats wanted 2 years and Dunn wanted 4 years. I hope 3 years is signed which would be great. It is about money when you don't agree on the dollars per year as years is a different philosophy.

  52. Mark Zuckerman - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:08 AM

    Head the homepage, everyone: It's official. Harper has signed. And he got a big-league deal.

  53. Andrew - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:10 AM

    August 17, 2010 NATIONALS SIGN BRYCE HARPERThe Nationals have signed their top draft pick, outfielder Bryce Harper.The 17 year-old Harper was widely considered to be the best draft-eligible player in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft and backed that up with a dominant freshman season at the College of Southern Nevada this summer. He set a new school record with 31 home runs and drove in 98 runs while batting .443 to earn the Scenic West Athletic Conference Player of the Year award.This is the second straight year the Nationals have been able to sign the No. 1 overall pick of the First-Year Player Draft.

  54. natsfan1a - Aug 17, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    anon @ 11:15 has a point, imo. A person can post whatever they like on their blog. I don't have to visit it if I don't wish to. But Dibble gets called "sexist" and "misogynistic" for his gender stereotyping comments (which did not offend me), while a blogger posts pics with captions that, to me, at least, are more offensive to women. (Although, like beauty, offense is in the eye of the beholder.)Not that I'm calling for anyone's head or demanding an apology or anything. Like I said, I don't have to read it if I don't want to, and I don't tend to visit the site in question anyway (ballpark guys, either, but I digress). I just find the reactions interesting.

  55. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    Kudos to Rizzo and the Lerners. They did a great job! The Lerners have a right to spend their money in any way they choose. It is their money and their franchise. Fans get to vote and express their opinion when they buy tickets. That's the deal.

  56. Water23 - Aug 17, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    Mark,Why was Timothy Smalling not signed? Was it a Nat's decision or Smalling's?

  57. natsfan1a - Aug 17, 2010 at 2:19 PM

    If memory serves, he decided to go back to school.

  58. Steve M. - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:19 PM

    Smallings had an injury after the Draft.





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