Minor inks record-setting deal with Braves

Friday, August 7, 2009

Mike Minor is Marshall County's newest millionaire.

Minor, a former Forrest High School star who later pitched for Vanderbilt and was the No. 7 pick in baseball's amateur draft earlier this spring, signed a contract worth $2.42 million on Thursday evening, according to his agent.

The $2.42 million signing bonus is the largest ever for a No. 7 pick, eclipsing the $2.4 million given to Milwaukee's Prince Fielder in 2002.

Minor's immediate destination is unclear. One report said Minor was headed to the Braves' South Atlantic League affiliate in Rome, Ga., although another report said he first was headed to the Braves' off-season home in Orlando, Fla.

The Braves could not confirm the report Thursday morning.

According to Minor's agent, Bo McKinnis -- who also represented top draft picks David Price (Vanderbilt) and Dewon Brazelton (MTSU) -- the possibility exists that after the season, he could also be assigned to the Arizona Fall League this November.

Minor, originally drafted out of high school by Tampa Bay in the 13th round of the 2006 draft, did not have a dazzling season for the Commodores. He went 6-6 with a 3.90 ERA, giving up 109 hits in 110 2/3 innings.

All of the Braves' minor-league affiliates are in the south. The organization also has teams in Pearl, Miss., and Lawrenceville, Ga.

The Braves were most impressed with Minor's performance on the U.S. national team last summer. He beat amateur powerhouse Cuba twice and was the best pitcher on a squad that also included Stephen Strasburg, picked No. 1 overall by the Washington Nationals.

The 6-foot-4-inch, 195-pound Minor has been clocked in the low 90s with his fastball and throws a slider and curve. But his best pitch is a changeup. Not surprisingly, two of his favorite Braves were Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, pitchers who relied on guile and location more than overpowering stuff.

Minor turned down a $750,000 offer from Tampa Bay coming out of high school. He'll get a lot more with the Braves, who know that someone with three years of college experience has a chance to make it to the big leagues a lot quicker than a prep player.

During his days at Forrest, Minor led the Rockets (34-5) to a second-place finish at the state tournament in 2006, losing 2-0 to McKenzie in the final. Minor holds four TSSAA state records, including 21 strikeouts in a seven-inning game versus Huntland in 2006.

Minor's 0.08 ERA in the 2006 season is also a state record. Minor's 23 career shutouts and his 12 shutouts in the 2006 are also tops in the record books. His two no-hitters in 2006 is just one off the season record held by Josh Kite (Chuckey-Doak) and Drew Clothier (CBA).

Minor won 13 times in 2006, struck out 188 batters and also hit 17 home runs. Minor also struck out 22 Mt. Pleasant batters in a 10-inning game in 2005. The big lefty averaged an amazing 15.0 strikeouts per game in the 2005 season for the Rockets.