Orioles sign top draft pick Powell Pitcher assigned to Albany, Ga.

July 19, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

Establishing this year's market value was the only issue that held up a contract agreement between the Orioles and No. 1 draft pick Jay Powell.

"To be honest, both Jay and I thought the market would be a little bit higher," said Bo McKinnis, a consultant from Nashville, Tenn., who handled negotiations for Powell. "But it was just a case of both sides waiting to get an idea."

Powell, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound right-handed pitcher whose fastball has been clocked at more than 90 mph, was the 19th player selected. He signed a minor-league contract for a bonus of about $450,000.

Used primarily as a reliever at Mississippi State, Powell will begin his professional career as a starter for the Single-A Albany (Ga.) Polecats in the South Atlantic League. "Jay will start working out Tuesday with our team in Frederick and then report to Albany," said Gary Nickels, Orioles director of scouting, who was instrumental in the negotiations.

Minor-league pitching coordinator Tom Brown will work with the No. 1 pick this week in Frederick, and then the Orioles will decide when Powell will make his debut.

"Right now, we want him to get innings and work on all three of his pitches," Nickels said. "He'll be on a pitch count at the start, but we feel it's important for him to get some innings.

"We feel that Jay fits the profile of recent No. 1 choices of the Orioles -- a college player from one of the best programs in the country. We've had a lot of success with players like Gregg Olson [Auburn, 1988], Ben McDonald [Louisiana State, 1989], Mike Mussina [Stanford, 1990] and Jeffrey Hammonds [Stanford, 1992], and we think Jay fits into that mold."

And the Orioles' No. 1 pick in 1991, outfielder Mark Smith, who is hitting .308 with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings, has a similar background, having played at Southern Cal.

Powell said he was excited about joining the Orioles and he had no preference for either starting or relieving.

"Obviously it's a great city and park and I've got some big footsteps to follow," he said. "I was a closer my freshman year, and last year I was a reliever until we lost some starters. It makes no difference to me."

McKinnis said he was pleased that his client had been drafted by the Orioles.

"We did some research and I told Jay that, historically, the Orioles were 1, 2 or 3 percent above the market value [with recent draft choices]," he said.

"Gary and the club were very fair with their initial offer. We just didn't know how it [the market] was going to shake down."

Powell's career record at Mississippi State was only 11-11, but he posted a 2.82 ERA and had 17 saves and 160 strikeouts in 159 1/3 innings. Baseball America rated him the seventh-best prospect in this year's draft.

JAY POWELL'S STATS

AT MISSISSIPPI STATE

Yr. .. .. .W-L .. ..ERA .. ..SV .. ..IP .. ..S0

'91 .. .. .4-2 .. ..1.28 .. .10 .. .49 1/3 .. .46

'92 .. .. .4-3 .. ..3.44 .. ..0 .. ..36 2/3 .. .41

'93 .. .. .3-6 .. ..3.56 .. ..7 .. ..73 1/3 .. .73

Tot. .. ..11-11 .. .2.82 .. .17 .. .159 1/3 160

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