Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Sour ending to Reds' draft

Top draft pick begins classes at Vandy today

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HOUSTON — Reds scouting director Kasey McKeon was in Billings, Mont., Tuesday watching draft picks the Reds did sign, not in Nashville, Tenn., trying to sign the one who didn't.

        So when No.1 pick Jeremy Sowers walks into class at Vanderbilt today, the Reds lose the rights to him.

        “It's over,” McKeon said. “I don't see anything drastic happening.”

        For the Reds, taking Sowers was a high-risk, high-reward move.

        “We knew this could happen,” McKeon said. “We took a gamble. It was no different than last year.”

        Last year, the Reds took David Espinosa with their top pick, even though other teams passed on him because he was represented by Scott Boras. The Reds ended up signing Espinosa and Boras' other client, Dane Sardinha, to major-league contracts. That means they are on the 40-man roster, which effectively gives the Reds only 38 roster spots.

        Negotiations with Sowers never got to such a point. He was asking for $3.5 million to sign. The Reds offered $1.5 million.

        “Usually, there's give and take,” McKeon said. “There wasn't any.”

        The Reds signed eight of their top 10 picks and 15 of the top 20. Two of those who didn't sign went to junior college, so the Reds retain the right to them until next year's draft.

        “I still think it's going to be a good draft,” McKeon said.

        The second-round pick, right-handed pitcher Justin Gilman, was 4-2 with a 1.75 ERA with the Gulf Coast Reds before being promoted to Billings.


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