UPDATE AT 10:08 P.M. -- The Nationals just officially announced the signing of fourth-round pick A.J. Cole, the right-hander from Florida who was threatening to enroll at the University of Miami.
Cole is believed to have received a $2 million signing bonus, a record for a fourth-round pick.
The 18-year-old went a combined 12-1 and struck out 10.7 batters per nine innings during his junior and senior years at Oviedo High School. A 6-foot-5 right-hander, he has an arsenal of pitches typically found with first-rounders, including a fastball that reaches 97 mph, a power curveball and a changeup.
Thus, the Nats have now signed 24 of their top 26 draft picks. They won't be signing 14th rounder Tim Smalling. They've got less than two hours to sign Bryce Harper.
UPDATE AT 8:22 P.M. -- The Nationals have now announced the signing of second-round pick Sammy Solis, a left-hander from the University of San Diego.
Solis, who is believed to have received a $1 million signing bonus, was 9-2 with a 3.42 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) as a redshirt sophomore. (He missed 2009 with a back injury.)
A 6-foot-5, 225-pounder, Solis has a fastball that tops out at 92 mph and two varieties of breaking balls: an over-the-top, 80 mph curveball that is his "out" pitch and a mid-70s "slurve" that breaks on more of a diagonal plane.
Still no word on fourth-rounder A.J. Cole, but I suspect we'll get that announcement in the next hour or two...
ORIGINAL POST AT 7:00 P.M. -- Just got to Nationals Park, gearing up for a long night of waiting for something to happen, and lo and behold I'm greeted by a press release announcing the signing of a draft pick!
Just not THAT draft pick.
The Nationals have signed 12th rounder Robbie Ray, the high school left-hander from Tennessee who toured the ballpark Saturday in a Nats cap and personalized jersey as part of a hard sell from members of the front office. Obviously, it worked, because Ray elected to sign a pro contract instead of playing in college at Arkansas as he had previously committed.
Baseball America's Jim Callis reported yesterday that Ray had signed for $799,000, a huge sum for a 12th-round pick.
The 18-year-old lefty went 7-1 with an 0.50 ERA and a 7.3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio as a senior at Brentwood High School.
No official word yet on the other three top draft picks who have yet to sign: first-rounder Bryce Harper, second-rounder Sammy Solis and fourth-rounder A.J. Cole. As many of you have noted, Callis reported yesterday that both Solis ($1 million) and Cole ($2 million) had already signed. My understanding is that terms of both deals have already been agreed upon, but the finalized contracts haven't been officially submitted yet, thus the lack of a formal announcement from the club. I do expect both to be announced later this evening.
As for Harper, well, we've got five hours to go. Which means negotiations with Scott Boras will probably get underway in about four hours and 45 minutes.