Draft Signing Deadline Has Arrived

Two months ago, the Tigers selected 51 players in the 2010 draft, and today marks the final day the team can finalize deals with their unsigned picks. Not surprisingly, it should be a busy day for the Tigers, who have yet to ink deals with four of their first five picks.

When the Tigers made Florida prep slugger Nick Castellanos their first selection with the 44th pick in the draft, it was pretty much a given that any deal wouldn't consummated until the deadline given that his bonus will be well over slot, but it is surprising the Tigers have been unable to sign the others.

After taking Castellanos, the Tigers selected Texas right-hander Chance Ruffin with the 48th overall pick, and they followed by taking Arkansas left-hander Drew Smyly with their second-round pick.

Texas right-hander Cole Green, who was drafted in the fourth round, is the other unsigned draft choice the Tigers have in the first 10 rounds. The Tigers typically like to give the college pitchers they draft in the early rounds the bulk of the summer off due to their workloads before signing them in July, but this year has certainly bucked that trend.

Heading into the draft, there wasn't much of an obvious indication that the college trio were going to be tough signs, but as the summer has progressed, that notion has certainly changed. As a draft-eligible sophomore, Smyly has more leverage than the others, but the Tigers were able to come to terms fairly quickly with UC-Riverside catcher Rob Brantly, who was the team's third-round pick and also a draft-eligible sophomore. Reports earlier in the summer surfaced that Green and Ruffin were seeking deals over their respective slots, and while the consensus is that Ruffin will wind up signing, things are less clear on Green, who is seeking a bonus well over his fourth-round slot.

That being said, the Tigers have missed on signing just three players taken in the first 10 rounds since David Chadd began running the draft in 2005 with the highest being eighth-rounder Craig Fritsch last year.

When it's all said and done, I suspect the Tigers will be able to get deals done with their top picks, although it is disconcerting knowing that formal negotiations haven't gotten serious until the weekend of the deadline.

As far as their selections in the later rounds, don't count on much activity there. Despite the firing of USC coach Chad Kreuter last week, Los Osos (Ca.) catcher Jake Hernandez (23rd round) is expected to be a Trojan, and fellow Californian Dominic Ficociello (22nd round) will head to Arkansas.

The Tigers could also lose Notre Dame right-hander Brian Dupra (11th round) and Arkansas outfielder Collin Kuhn (15th round) with the latter being a better bet to return to school.

One name to watch that could sign is Central Arizona CC left-hander Chris Joyce. Taken in the 29th round, Joyce had an outstanding summer pitching for the Santa Barbara Foresters, but his season ended on a down note, as he suffered his lone loss this summer by lasting just one inning in his second start at the NBC World Series on Thursday.

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