Deadline Nears for Stiles, Other Draftees

With Monday night's baseball pro signing deadline for drafted prospects, the Tar Heel staff will soon finalize its roster for the 2010 season. By midnight, UNC will know which of its signees will enroll and which of its eligible players will return.

The big name making national headlines is San Diego State right handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick - but the next topic is the group of four unsigned first-round picks that are linked with the Tar Heels in Dustin Ackley, Donovan Tate, Jacob Turner and Alex White. All are expected to sign by midnight, but the fact that they remain unsigned to this point is newsworthy.

Another compelling UNC-related story is the pair of UNC signees that were drafted by the New York Yankees draft picks - right handed pitchers Brian Mitchell and Cody Stiles.

Mitchell has been unavailable for comment heading into the deadline, but Inside Carolina was able to confirm with his mother, Jaydene, that she expected the negotiations to go down to the wire with the Yankees and that her son would be able to make a "great decision" either way.

Inside Carolina caught up with Stiles before he headed to compete in the Connie Mack World Series last weekend in New Mexico. The Yankees selected Stiles in a classic ‘draft and follow strategy used by a lot of Major League front offices - where they select a prospect who could be tough to sign and follow them over the summer to determine if they want to try to make a strong offer.

"The Yankees area scout [Angel Herrera] is my summer coach for travel ball," Stiles said. "I have talked with him a lot and then the National Crosschecker [for the Yankees] is my catcher's dad. I have talked with them a lot, but my advisor has been doing most of the talking."

Drafted players cannot sign with an agent and keep their eligibility to play college baseball, but they can retain a 'family advisor' or a lawyer to help them through the process.

"We had 26 draft picks," Coach Herrera told Inside Carolina before the Connie Mack World Series got underway. "We have guys from all over the place in the country – two or three Team USA guys. We had a guy this year go in the first round who signed out of high school. In my opinion this bunch could be our best team that we have ever had. Cody Stiles is our ace - he is the guy that will be given the ball the first game. He has been tremendous and been committed to the team 100 percent."

According to reports from the event in New Mexico, Stiles's fastball was working in the mid 90s and his team advanced to the finals against the Midland (Ohio) Redskins, who featured another Tar Heel signee, outfielder Brian Goodwin, who was a 17th-round pick by the Chicago White Sox. We'll know by late Monday night whether the Yankees' scouts in attendance were impressed enough to meet Stiles reported asking price, as they have a number of talented draftees with significant demands.

However, in recent years the Yankees, Tigers, Red Sox and other deep-pocketed teams have been able to take advantage of the current system in Major League Baseball, where the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball develops a suggested 'slotting' signing bonus for each round and each pick. These suggestions are not binding, though many teams follow those recommendations, especially with the economy affecting budgets this season.

"Signing with the Yankees is still an option for him up to midnight on the 17th," Herrera said, "but he understands the value of going to college … he really can help himself and raise his stock coming to college. Let's not kid ourselves, going to pitch for the University of North Carolina and go to Chapel Hill for the next three years is a great opportunity. He really is going into this that he does not have to fall into the temptation of signing out of high school and can go to North Carolina and be part of a tremendous program there with a great, great tradition and look towards the draft in three years."

Herrera does fully expect the Yankees to make a run at Stiles at the deadline as, in his opinion, the talented right handed pitcher could easily be a first round pick after three years with Mike Fox in Chapel Hill.

"Basically we have just been talking and they have stated that it will come down to the wire and we have not talked much about money," Stiles said. "I went to orientation at UNC with Matt Graham, who signed [with San Francisco], and Brian Goodwin. I went up [to Boshamer Stadium] a couple of times - it was really nice and I liked it a lot. Right now I am undecided on my major [at UNC] but I am thinking about doing something with sports medicine."

For breaking news and up-to-the-minute info on the signing deadline and all of the Tar Heel draftees and recruits, check out the Diamond Heels Forum.

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