"I was a little scared we weren't going to get it done on time," said Vitters, a third baseman from Cypress High School (Calif.). "We were kind of freaking out [while] hanging out."
The Cubs did sign Vitters, their first-round pick and the third selection overall in the First-Year Player Draft, in time and announced the deal less than one minute before Wednesday's 11 p.m. CT deadline.
"It's the first time we've had this deadline, and I don't think I like the deadline," said Tim Wilken, the Cubs scouting director. "I thought in the end it would prevail, and we knew that Josh wanted to play. That's the most important thing."
Vitters and his advisor, Casey Close, had been waiting to see what happened with high school third baseman Mike Moustakas, who was drafted second overall by Kansas City. Major League Baseball recommends a $3.1 million slot figure for the No. 2 pick. However, agent Scott Boras is advising Moustakas, who signed for $4 million.
"We were waiting for a few guys to see where they came in," Vitters said. "Everybody around me kind of played into what I signed for."
Vitters signed for $3.2 million, and will report to Mesa, Ariz., and join the Cubs' Rookie League team, and hopefully get to the team's Boise team before its season is over. Before he goes, though, he will take batting practice with the big league team on Friday at Wrigley Field.
Cypress High School baseball coach John Weber said he talked to Vitters and his father a few days ago, and they were optimistic that the third baseman would sign with the Cubs.
"He's an offensive player, there's no doubt about that," Weber said Wednesday. "He's a complete player. He will need to work on his defensive skills and continue to refine them. I call him a two-for-one. He's a kid who will hit for high average like a middle infielder and hit for power like a corner infielder. He's got incredible hand-eye coordination."
The Cubs have another Cypress High player in their system in third baseman Scott Moore, who is playing at Triple-A Iowa and was a first-round pick in 2002 by Detroit.
Vitters, who turns 18 on Aug. 27, ranked as the top pure high school hitter by Baseball America. He batted .371 with eight homers and 25 RBIs for Cypress. He had committed to attend Arizona State this fall on a baseball scholarship.
Vitters was pumped after signing his first pro contract.
"It was awesome -- it was the best experience of my life, probably, except the Draft," he said.
If Vitters did not sign by the 11 p.m. CT deadline, he would no longer be the Cubs' property and they would be compensated with a "same slot" pick in the Draft next June. The Cubs would get pick No. 3A, for example.
Wednesday's deadline applied to all Draft picks in all rounds, except college seniors. All unsigned picks who are not college seniors will no longer be the property of the club that selected them.
The Cubs have signed all but two of their top 25 picks. Those unsigned includes catcher Kyle Day, selected in the 19th round out of Michigan State University, and infielder Victor Sanchez, a 25th-round pick out of Gahr High School. Wilken said the team did not expect to come to terms with either player.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.