The rumors around Nationals Park last night centered on the Washington Nationals' 12th Round pick Robbie Ray, who was reportedly wearing a Nats' "Ray" jersey as he stood on the field during BP and sat in the stands clearly visible to the average fan wearing the same personalized gear during the Nationals' loss to the D-Backs. But late last night, Baseball America's Jim Callis (@jimcallisba) broke the news first on Twitter that the Nats had actually signed two other 2010 picks, "...agree[ing] to seven-figure deals w/4th-rder A.J. Cole ($2 million) and 2nd-rder Sammy Solis ($1 million)," to get two of the top four remaining unsigned 2010 Draft picks under contract with Ray and no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper now the focus with less than 48 hours to go before Monday night's 11:59:59 deadline to ink this year's selections.
A.J. Cole was considered a 1st Round talent, "...as high as a top-20 pick," as Orlando Sentinel writer Kyle Hightower noted in a predraft article entitled, "How high can he go? Oviedo's Cole could be a top-20 pick in MLB draft," but the 6'4'' right-hander with the high-90's fastball fell to the 4th Round where the Nationals' risked the 116th pick on the possibility they could get the 18-year-old pitcher under contract in spite of his commitment to the University of Miami.
MLB.com's Bill Ladson predicted the signing late Saturday night, writing in a blog post entitled, "Cole confident he'll sign with Nationals", that his, "...source went so far as to say that Cole and his family feel the Nationals are a 'great fit' for the right-hander," while the pitcher himself, "...likes the positive direction the team is going," and according to Baseball America's Jim Callis' article on the signings entitled, "Nationals Spend Big On Solis, Cole", Cole probably liked the $2M dollar deal the Nationals were offering, which according to Mr. Callis, "...broke the fourth-round bonus record of $1.5 million set by Athletics catcher Max Stassi a year ago."
Sammy Solis, the Nationals' second-round pick, taken 51st overall behind only Harper, a 6'5'' left-hander out of the University of San Diego, received less than Cole, signing a $1M dollar deal according to Mr. Callis. Friday night, MLB.com's Bill Ladson had written in another blog post entitled, "Solis close to signing with Nats", that it looked,"...like a deal is close to getting done between the Nationals and left-hander Sammy Solis," who had suffered a herniated disc in his back which cost him most of the 2009 season, but recovered to put together an impressive 2010 campaign. Baseball Rumor Mill's bio of Solis described the lefty as a control pitcher who features, "...lively fastball, breaking ball and changeup," and noted that while, "...He might not have the highest ceiling in the world," the lefty, "...shouldn't take too long to get to the big leagues."
Solis expressed similar confidence in own his abilities in an article by the Sporting News' writer Michael Huang entitled, "RISING STAR: Sammy Solis, LHP, San Diego", when he told the reporter a month before the Draft took place about how much he'd learned watching fellow University of San Diego lefty Brian Matusz during his freshman year, and how he believed, in his own words, that he was ready to pitch on the pro level:
"I'm ready for that challenge," Solis said. "Obviously I will weigh my options, but realistically, I'm ready to be a pro. You always want a bigger challenge in front of you and that's the next step."
With Cole and Solis signed, the Nats' Front Office now turns their attention to Robbie Ray and Bryce Harper, both of whom are expected to sign, though Harper, according to a Facebook account which may or may not be real, had threatened to return to the College of Southern Nevada. There aren't too many people out there who believe Harper will get away from the Nationals, but no one expects a deal to get done before the last minutes Monday night either. If the Nats are able to sign the two remaining unsigned top picks, as ESPN.com's Keith Law and Jason A. Churchill wrote last week in an article entitled, "A crucial stretch for the Nationals", the Nats could, "...have a legitimate claim to having one of the best draft classes overall."
In Rizzo We Trust.
• Bluelineswinger at Federal Baseball.com's take on the signings, "Great News! Baseball America reporting that the Nats have agreed to terms with Solis, Cole."
• MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article on the Cole signing entitled, "Nats, Cole agree to terms."