McGeary Signs with Nationals

Mark Marquess has survived last-minute drama for years in the battle to keep Stanford recruits from signing with Major Leage Baseball straight out of high school. The Cardinal head coach had a 15-year unbeaten streak broken late Wednesday night, however, when Newton (Mass.) LHP Jack McGeary signed a record contract with the Washington Nationals, just 14 minutes before the deadline.

LHP Jack McGeary was selected in June by the Washington Nationals in the 2007 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in the sixth round (#190 overall), though the West Roxbury (Mass.) Roxbury Latin School lefthander was rated as a first-round or supplemental pick.  The 6'3" 200-pound pitching prospect was also slated to attend Stanford, which created an obvious concern for MLB clubs who might hope to sign him.

Last night at 11:59pm was the deadline for clubs to sign their draft picks, and it was reported earlier in the day by that McGeary was headed to Stanford and not the Nationals for the next step of his baseball career.  However, at 11:45pm a deal was signed at a downtown Washington steak house.  McGeary reportedly received a $1.8M signing bonus plus $200K to pay for his Stanford education.

This deal blows out of the water the norms for slot money supposedly due to high draft picks.  According to Baseball America, the bonus slotted for the final pick of the fifth round (just six spots ahead of McGeary's selection) should be $123K.  McGeary instead received first-round money, which is what he had told the Nationals since June would be required to sign him away from his college baseball plans at Stanford.  This signing bonus is reportedly the richest ever given to a sixth-round draft pick.

Jack McGeary notched a 5-1 record in seven starts as a high school senior this past spring for Roxbury Latin, with a 0.88 ERA, 40 IP, 80 K and 21 BB.  He was rated by Baseball America as the 27th overall draft eligible prospect this year - also #18 among all pitchers and #9 among high school pitchers.

The Washington Nationals with McGeary successfully signed their top 20 draft picks in the 2007 draft.  They will introduce the Newton (Mass.) 18-year-old today at a 4:00pm (EDT) press conference.

Stanford head coach Mark Marquess told The Bootleg on the eve of the MLB Draft that his 2007 recruiting class was the best he had signed in the last 10 years.  Several of those players had high draft prospects, but as has been the case for years, almost all fell dramatically due to signability concerns.  McGeary was not taken on the first day, which spanned five rounds, but was selected with the sixth pick of the sixth round at the start of the second day of the draft.

"The only guy I'm worried about is McGeary," Marquess said in June.  "McGeary could be a first-five guy in the first round.  Then somebody throws a lot of money at him, and he could go...  Knowing how academic he is, I think it'll have to be a really big bonus.  I don't know what that is, but that's my sense."

"He's six-foot-three.  Lefthanded," the coach continued.  "A three-pitch guy with a good curveball - not a slider - which in a high school guy is unusual.  He has a 12-6 curveball with good command."

Stanford's other two signees in the Class of 2007 who were drafted by Major League Baseball did not ink contracts with their respective clubs before last night's deadline: RHP Drew Storen (New York Yankees) and C Zach Jones (Colorado Rockies).

"I don't blame him," offers Storen, who had become good friends with McGeary over the past year.  The duo not only had planned to be the pitching future for the Cardinal, but they also took two of their recruiting visits last fall together, including their Stanford official visit.

"Coach Marquess called me up this morning and said, 'You ready to throw a few more pitches?'," Storen says.  "This puts a little more pressure on me, but I love throwing under pressure."

McGeary is the first Stanford signee to forgo his college baseball career and sign with pro baseball since 1991, when Shawn Estes (#11 overall) and Shawn Green (#16) were both plucked in the first round.

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