The end of former University of Kentucky left-handed pitcher James Paxton‘s long nightmare is finally over. The 2010 fourth-round draft pick has signed a professional contract with the Seattle Mariners. Paxton was the first supplemental-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009 but elected to return to UK for his senior season. UK held Paxton out of competition after the NCAA accused him of violating its no-agent rule by allowing his advisor Scott Boras to directly negotiate contract details with the Blue Jays on his behalf. Paxton sued UK to prevent the university from forcing him to speak with NCAA investigators, but a Kentucky Circuit Court judge ruled UK could withhold him from competition.
On Feb. 26, 2010, BluGrass Baseball broke the story that Paxton had left the UK baseball team after losing an appeal in the case. Paxton started four games for Grand Prairie of the Independent American Association prior to the 2010 draft, where he slid all the way to the fourth round to the Mariners. Paxton is the last 2010 draft pick to sign a professional contract since the Aug. 15 deadline for other drafted college players to sign did not apply to him as an independent league pitcher. Paxton was 11-5 with a 4.91 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 55 games during his UK career. (Read more)