Zack Cox; University of Arkansas photo
The deadline for drafted players to sign with their professional teams is tonight at midnight, meaning college coaches from around the state will be holding their breath to learn the status of some of their would-be freshmen and returning players. I thought I’d give a quick refresher about where some of the unsigned players stand before the deadline:
- Pleasure Ridge Park alum and Arkansas third baseman Zack Cox is the lone first rounder among Bluegrass draftees, but all indications point to him signing before the deadline. Cox is a draft-eligible sophomore so he has enough leverage that he probably won’t sign until a few hours, if not minutes, before the deadline. Draft expert Jim Callis of Baseball America is on record as predicting Cox will sign with the Cardinals.
- Seattle Mariners fourth-round pick James Paxton, the former University of Kentucky left-handed pitcher, is unsigned but is not restricted by the midnight deadline as he pitched in an independent league in 2010. Don’t expect any movement on Paxton today, as his agent Scott Boras has plenty of other first-round draftees to negotiate for before the deadline.
- Danville native Blake Perry, a right-handed pitcher who played high school ball in Florida in 2010 and has signed to play collegiately at UK, is still in negotiations with the Arizona Diamondbacks as the team’s sixth round pick. Arizona has evidently cut off negotiations with its first-round pick, leaving Perry as the team’s highest drafted unsigned player. Negotiations are expected to last through the day, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports.
- University of Louisville signee Dace Kime, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ eighth-round pick, has said he will attend UofL, though Kendall Rogers of Yahoo! Sports and Rivals.com tweeted over the weekend Kime to UofL wasn’t a 100 percent lock.
- Keep in mind this stat from Callis and BA: Last season clubs signed 93 percent of all players drafted in the first 10 rounds. Callis also notes big signing bonuses after the 10th round are the exception rather than the rule.
- As for the rest of the unsigned players, it appears likely most if not all of the Kentuckians drafted after the 25th round will end up at their respective schools in the fall. However there might be a surprise or two among the group so keep checking the BluGrass Baseball twitter feed all day for updates.
Aaron Fitt of Baseball America has posted an in-depth examination of the James Paxton, right, situation on the BA Web site. The story is subscriber-only so I’m not going to reprint much here. However to review what we already knew/suspected. Paxton is almost certainly under investigation by the NCAA for violating the no-agent rule. UK says that investigation is based on comments from Toronto Blue Jays interim President Paul Beeston to the (Toronto) Globe and Mail about Paxton’s relationship with super agent Scott Boras. “Because it was Scott, the way that you deal, you deal through him. You don’t deal through the family,” Beeston said. “Now I would prefer to deal with the family and I wonder whether I could have done a better job on it.”
Paxton is trying to avoid submitting to the investigation by saying UK must inform him in writing of the charges against him per the Student Code of Conduct. If the court agrees that the code of conduct prevents UK from compelling Paxton to testify, his attorneys hope UK would not have enough evidence to suspend the ace.
Fitt lists three possible outcomes worth considering:
- Paxton can submit to the interview and dispute Beeston’s account.
- Paxton can submit to the interview and admit to breaking the “no agent” rule, then accept whatever penalty is meted out.
- Paxton can fight the “no agent” rule in court.
Option two isn’t much of an option because the NCAA would likely declare Paxton permanently ineligible for violating the rule. (Read BA’s story)
James Paxton; Photo: UK Athletics
The James Paxton camp has filed its reply to the University of Kentucky‘s response to Paxton’s lawsuit. Paxton’s attorneys argue “their client’s rights as a student were violated under the Student Code of Conduct, and that he is not a member of the NCAA. According to the reply, colleges, universities and athletic conferences are members,” B. W. Jones reports for the Kentucky Kernel. In an interview with the Kernel, Richard Johnson, one of Paxton’s attorneys, said neither Paxton nor Scott Boras could be compelled to reveal if Boras negotiated on Paxton’s behalf with the Toronto Blue Jays because that would constitute a violation of attorney-client privilege. (Read more)
The University of Kentucky has issued an 87-page response to James Paxton‘s lawsuit and also clarified that Paxton has been on the team throughout the process and his scholarship money was never in jeopardy. UK says Paxton was told not to discuss the NCAA meeting with his parents because they would likely be interviewed as part of the investigation and would need to provide individual accounts. The investigation appears to center on what I originally speculated: Paxton’s representative Scott Boras’ role in negotiations with the Toronto Blue Jays.