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Rays sign top pick Sale, Vettleson

Rays sign top pick Sale, Vettleson

ST. PETERSBURG -- As expected, the Rays went right down to the wire when it came to Monday night's midnight ET deadline to sign 2010 MLB Draft picks, but they were able to sign their top two remaining selections.

The Rays reached agreements with Josh Sale and Drew Vettleson late Monday night, officially announcing the deals at 2:20 a.m. on Tuesday morning. By the time it was all said and done, Tampa Bay signed 35 of its 53 total selections from June's First-Year Player Draft, including eight of its first nine.

"We're pleased to announce the signings of Josh Sale and Drew Vettleson," Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "We feel like both players add a lot to our system in terms of their advanced feel for hitting. We're anxious to get both guys out in Rays gear and get the process started on them becoming Major League players."

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A baseball source said that Sale's bonus is worth $1.62 million, while Baseball America reported that Vettleson was signed for $845,000.

The Rays managed to sign both of their first-rounders, who were ranked in Baseball America's top eight high school prospects, just a year after not agreeing to a deal with first-round pick LeVon Washington. Catcher Justin O'Conner, the 31st overall pick, inked a deal with the team on June 20.

Sale, the 17th overall pick in the Draft, is an 18-year-old outfielder from Bishop Blanchet High School in Seattle. The left-handed-hitting Sale batted .520 with five homers, six doubles, 20 RBIs and 27 walks during his senior season and was named the top high school power hitter and outfielder by Baseball America.

After drafting Sale, who had a scholarship offer from Gonzaga, Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison said he had the potential to be a middle-of-the-lineup bat.

Friedman said the 6-foot, 215-pounder has "an uncanny feel for the mechanics of his swing, what goes into being a successful hitter" after selecting him on June 7.

"With most high-school guys that we draft, it's a process for us at the player-development side to educate them on that," Friedman said. "And he's coming in extremely advanced on that front.

"We feel very good about the fact that he'll be able to reach his max potential because of who he is -- the makeup, the work ethic -- and we are thrilled to get him where we did."

Vettleson, a switch-pitcher drafted with the Rays' sandwich pick at No. 42, is also a high school prospect from the Seattle area. Like Sale, he projects to be a power-hitting corner outfielder. Vettleson also has good size at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, and he hit .490 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs during his senior season at Central Kitsap High School.

The 18-year-old Vettleson had signed to play at Oregon State next year. Harrison spoke highly of Vettleson's potential after selecting him with Tampa Bay's compensation pick.

"[He's] another corner power-hitting outfielder, a kid we scouted pretty good over the last year," Harrison said. "He's just one of those kids where at every event where we've gone, you walk away and you go, 'Boy that guy can really hit.'

"Like an old scout once told me one time after I asked him, 'What are you looking for in a hitter?' And he said, 'Hitter's hit.' And this guy is one of those guys. And he's a unique kid. We watched him pitch with both arms."

The club also agreed to a deal Sunday with sixth-round pick Jesse Hahn from Virginia Tech. Hahn signed for $525,000, according to his agent.

Hahn went 5-4 in 13 games for Virginia Tech in 2010, posting a 3.70 ERA while striking out 76 batters, walking 20 and holding opposing hitters to a .257 average. Though the right-hander's strength is still his mid-90s fastball, he developed into a more complete pitcher during his junior year with the Hokies.

Fourth-round pitcher Austin Wood from local St. Petersburg College and seventh-rounder Michael Lorenzen were the team's highest unsigned selections.

Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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