08/12/07 9:00 PM ET
Braves sign No. 1 pick Heyward
Outfielder fulfills dream of joining Braves organization
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
After nearly two months of negotiations, Heyward's dream is now officially alive.
According to Heyward's representatives at Career Sports Entertainment, the 18 year-old outfielder, who was chosen with the 14th overall selection in this year's Draft, signed his first professional contract with the Braves on Sunday afternoon.
"I am delighted to bring him into our organization," Braves director of scouting Roy Clark said. "He's one of the finest young men I've been around."
While specific financial details of Heyward's signing bonus weren't revealed, another player agent not affiliated with Career Sports Entertainment said he was told the figure was $1.7 million, which would be equal to the figure the Blue Jays gave Travis Snyder after nabbing him with the 14th overall selection in last year's Draft.
This announcement of Heyward's signing could mark the start of a number of signings before Wednesday's deadline. He becomes just the 18th of the 30 first-round selections to sign. Sixteen of them have signed for less than the figure presented to the player taken in the same slot last year.
"I'm both honored and excited to start my professional career today with the Atlanta Braves." Heyward said through his representatives. "It has always been a dream of mine to play for this organization."
Heyward, who celebrated his 18th birthday on Thursday, is an impressive physical specimen who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 230 pounds. During his senior season at Henry County High School, which is located about 20 minutes from Turner Field, he hit .520 with eight homers and 29 RBIs.
Some baseball experts have already tabbed him as one of the game's future power hitters.
Heyward, who had committed to play at UCLA, traveled to Orlando on Sunday afternoon to prepare to play with the Gulf Coast League Braves. When their season ends on Aug. 27, he'll likely complete the season with either Rookie Level Danville or Class A Rome.
Clark says the plan is to make sure Heyward gets approximately 70 at-bats before the end of the season. Despite the fact that he hasn't played competitively this summer, the Braves are confident that his workouts have prepared him to begin playing almost immediately.
All Major League teams have until Wednesday to sign this year's Draft selections. Those players that aren't signed will be made eligible for next year's Draft.
With the signing of Heyward, the Braves have now signed 13 of their first 16 selections. The only members of that group still unsigned are right-handed pitchers Josh Fields and Colby Shreve and left-handed pitcher Brandon Belt. Fields was taken in the second round as the club's third overall selection.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.