ATLANTA -- As the Braves navigated their way through the MLB Draft, they selected three of the most highly-regarded high school pitchers available in a strategic manner that enabled them to stay within the boundaries of their salary bonus pool.
Their plan continued to take shape on Tuesday, when the Braves agreed to terms on over-slot bonuses with left-handed pitchers Joey Wentz and Kyle Muller, who were taken with the 40th and 44th overall selections, respectively. Atlanta was able to select Wentz and Muller with its second and third picks because the club had used the Draft's No. 3 overall pick on Ian Anderson with the understanding he would agree to an under-slot bonus figure.
The Braves also came to terms with their fifth selection Drew Harrington, a left-handed pitcher from the University of Louisville. MLB.com's Jim Callis was the first to report each of these players reached an agreement with Atlanta.
Wentz agreed to a $3.05 million bonus, which was nearly double the $1.6 million figure slotted for the 40th selection. Muller's $2.5 million bonus was also over the slotted $1.5 million figure assigned to the 44th selection.
The Braves were able to go over slot with Wentz and Muller because Anderson is expected to sign for about half of the $6.5 million figure assigned to the third overall selection. Anderson will not be permitted to sign until he graduates from high school on June 23.
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Anderson, Wentz and Muller were all ranked among MLB.com's top 25 available prospects.
Some scouts believe Wentz has a higher upside than any other pitcher taken in this year's Draft, while Muller was recently named Gatorade's National High School Player of the Year.
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Harrington, who was the Atlantic Coast Conference pitcher of the year, agreed to a $900,000 bonus. He was slotted to receive $788,800 after being taken with the 80th overall selection.
The Braves' $13,224,100 salary bonus pool applies only to all signing bonuses given to players selected within the first 10 rounds and any signing bonus greater than $100,000 given to a player selected in the 11th round or later. If the sum of these bonuses is five percent greater than the salary bonus pool, Atlanta would be penalized via a hefty overage tax of at least 75 percent and the loss of next year's first-round pick.
While Anderson's willingness to accept an under-slot figure set the tone for the Braves' Draft selections, more flexibility was gained when Atlanta selected five consecutive college seniors between the 6-10th rounds. Because these seniors have no leverage to return to school, none of them are expected to sign for more than $25,000.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.