07/08/09 6:20 PM ET
Reds near deals with top two Draft picks
Organization allowing pitchers Leake, Boxberger to rest
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
The club has been in extensive talks with agent Dan Horwits, who represents pitchers Mike Leake and Brad Boxberger, the eighth and 43rd overall picks, respectively.
"It's going very well with both of those guys," Reds scouting director Chris Buckley said by phone Wednesday. "We haven't been in a super duper rush, because both guys pitched a lot and were tired. Hopefully, we're pretty close."Leake, a right-hander taken from Arizona State, was 16-1 with a 1.71 ERA, 24 walks and 162 strikeouts in 19 games this season. A key member of the Sun Devils' run in the College World Series, he also pitched 142 innings. It's unlikely that the 21-year-old Leake would pitch much more this season in the Reds' organization. "We haven't pressed him too hard," Buckley said. "The kid wanted some time off and we thought he should take the time off." Boxberger, also a right-hander, was 6-3 with a 3.12 ERA in 94 innings over 14 starts this year for the University of Southern California. He's been off longer since the Trojans did not reach the postseason. "Both will need time to get tuned up," Buckley said. "Mike's closer to pitching than Brad." If the pitchers are in good condition, they would likely report to Class A Sarasota. It's also possible they might report to Billings, where the Reds have a rookie-level affiliate. Among the players selected in the top 10 this year, only the fourth, fifth and 10th picks have signed. The No. 4 selection, catcher Tony Sanchez, received a Minor League deal from the Pirates and a $2.5 million bonus that was in the range of his slot. The Orioles recently signed the fifth overall pick, right-hander Matt Hobgood, for $2.42 million and also gave him a Minor League contract. There is an Aug. 17 deadline for clubs to sign all of their players from the 2009 Draft.
Talks haven't gotten close enough yet where Leake and Boxberger have taken physicals for Cincinnati's medical staff. General manager Walt Jocketty has gotten involved with the negotiations recently."We talked this afternoon," Buckley said of Jocketty. "There have been some pretty extensive conversations, but not a ton of urgency. I feel good about where things are going."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.