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Volstad, other top picks close to signing


By Mike Berardino

Staff writer

Posted June 10 2005



MIAMI GARDENS ? Chris Volstad, the Marlins' top pick in this week's amateur draft, said Thursday he has reached a tentative agreement on a $1.6 million signing bonus.


Volstad, a right-hander from Palm Beach Gardens High School, would receive the same bonus as the 16th overall pick last year, per the commissioner's office guidelines. He said he hoped to sign a contract by this weekend and possibly attend a game at Dolphins Stadium as part of a formal announcement. He was on hand Wednesday night and sat with owner Jeffrey Loria.


"I'm just ready to go play," said Volstad, who will start out in the Gulf Coast League with Jupiter. Roger Dean Stadium is a five-minute drive from his parents' home.


A University of Miami signee, Volstad and his advisers still must negotiate the Marlins' contribution to the standard college plan. Because UM is a private school, the annual cost can run into the $35,000 range, significantly more than a public university.


The Marlins also were believed to be nearing deals with their other first-rounders, Houston prep left-hander Aaron Thompson and McNeese State right-hander Jacob Marceaux.


Thompson, picked 22nd overall, is looking for the slot bonus of $1.425 million, same as last year. Utah high school pitcher Mark Pawelek, taken two spots higher, signed this week with the Cubs for $1.75 million.


Marceaux, taken 29th, is expected to receive the slot bonus of $1.1 million.


California prep pitcher Ryan Tucker and Louisiana prep lefty Sean West, the Marlins' supplemental first-rounders, also were nearing agreement. Tucker's No. 34 slot paid $975,000 last year, while West's No. 44 slot brought $800,000.


Second-rounders Kris Harvey, a Clemson outfielder, and Nevada catcher Brett Hayes weren't expected to hold out either.




The Marlins, Miami-Dade County and Miami have not completed a financing deal for a $420 million ballpark next to the Orange Bowl, but Major League Baseball President Bob DuPuy, who asked for a progress report on the deal by Thursday, said discussions are ongoing.


"We continue to talk, and I am trying to set up meetings with the three parties as soon as possible," DuPuy said late Thursday.


The Marlins declined comment.




The Marlins weren't that disappointed they failed to land Ugueth Urbina, in part because they believed he might complain if he wasn't immediately installed as their closer.


Detroit traded Urbina to the Phillies on Wednesday, but he will set up for closer Billy Wagner. Urbina, who served as the Marlins closer during their 2003 World Series run, has 236 career saves, including nine this year in 11 chances.


With Todd Jones thriving in the closer role and Guillermo Mota working his way back from elbow inflammation, the back of the Marlins' bullpen is fairly set.


That's not to say they aren't looking for more help. Sources said the Marlins have expressed continuing trade interest in Orioles right-hander Jorge Julio.


Yankees reliever Paul Quantrill is another trade possibility, provided the Yankees pay the bulk of his remaining salary. He is in the last season of a two-year, $6.4 million deal that pays him $3 million this year.


The Marlins also have some interest in Rangers right-hander Ryan Drese, their Opening Day starter who was designated for assignment this week.



Drese, 29, won 14 games last year and signed a two-year, $2.15 million contract this spring, including $1.75 million next year. The Rangers would have to eat a significant portion of that amount for the Marlins to make any deal.




Thursday, manager Jack McKeon stuck with the same lineup that snapped the Marlins' four-game losing streak Wednesday. That alignment featured Juan Pierre batting seventh. Before Wednesday, Pierre had batted in that spot just one other time as a member of the Marlins.


Staff Writers Sarah Talalay and Juan C. Rodriguez contributed to this report.


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