SEATTLE -- The Tigers took a chance in last week's Draft when they used their fifth-round pick on high school catcher Sam McMillan. While they were happy to take advantage after McMillan fell that far, they were also taking a chance that McMillan might decide to go to college, instead, anticipating a higher pick (and higher bonus) later.
On Wednesday, the Tigers' risk paid off. While it'll take time to find out whether McMillan has a big league future, he's at least in Detroit's system, having agreed to terms with the Tigers.
The deal includes a $1 million bonus, according to MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis. That's well above the $313,900 slot value assigned to the 155th overall selection.
The Tigers prepared themselves for such a deal by signing other players for contracts below slot value. Second-round selection Reynaldo Rivera, the national junior college player of the year this spring, signed for an $850,000 bonus, according to Callis, well below the $1,148,400 slot value. Fourth-rounder Gio Arriera, a junior college pitcher, signed for $325,000 rather than the $420,700 slot value.
McMillan's agreement leaves top pick Alex Faedo as the last Tigers Draft selection in the top 10 rounds who has yet to sign. He's busy at the moment pitching for the University of Florida in the College World Series, and can't negotiate until its season is over. Ironically, the Tigers signed McMillan away from a letter of intent he had with the University of Florida.
McMillan's deal doesn't leave the Tigers with a whole lot of wiggle room beyond the $3,214,600 slot value assigned to their first-round pick, the 18th overall selection. But the Tigers had an idea going into the Draft what it would take to get a deal done.
McMillan is the first high school catcher the Tigers have drafted in the first five rounds since 1989. He ranked 109th on MLB Pipeline's pre-Draft rankings, but fell due to injury concerns.
"We were on him early," Tigers scouting director Scott Pleis said last week, "and our scouts did a good job, also, in this case. And then during the spring, as the season went on, he had a little bit of soreness in his arm and he didn't throw as well as a lot of other guys, and we circled back on him and saw the arm strength and everything. I think it's just a matter of we saw, what we needed to see, and we liked the kid -- great kid. We liked him and maybe we liked him just a little more than the way the other guys saw him."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.