Angels sign first-round draft pick Jered Weaver to minor league contract

Updated: May 31, 2005, 8:55 PM ET
Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It took nearly a year for the Los Angeles Angels to sign Jered Weaver, their first pick in last summer's draft.

"I have a feeling Jered wanted to get it done and join the Angels," Los Angeles general manager Bill Stoneman said Tuesday. "Obviously, we're happy to have him. He was the top player in college baseball last year."

The Angels took the right-hander with the 12th selection last June, but were unable to sign him until just before Monday night's deadline. Weaver would have re-entered the draft if an agreement had not been reached.

Weaver, a 22-year-old former Long Beach State star and younger brother of Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Jeff Weaver, agreed to a minor league contract with a club-record signing bonus of $4 million. He will get $2 million when the contract is approved and $2 million in December 2006.

Weaver must pass a physical for the deal to be completed. He is expected to be assigned to the Angels' Class A affiliate in nearby Rancho Cucamonga.

"He hasn't pitched competitively in a year, and we're not sure what kind of shape he's in," Stoneman said. "We definitely do not want to rush things. But as soon as he's ready for a challenge, we want to give him one."

The sides had until midnight EDT to make a deal.

"There were a lot of last-minute discussions and it was completed fairly close to the deadline," Stoneman said in a conference call after the deal was struck.

Anticipating the chance he would re-enter the draft on June 7, Weaver had thrown before a group of scouts in a simulated game in New Jersey last weekend. He recently had signed with the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League, but did not pitch in a regular-season game.

He ended his three-year career at Long Beach State with a 37-9 record and 2.43 ERA. He went 15-1 last season and led the nation in wins and strikeouts (213) and ranked third in ERA (1.62 ). He won the Golden Spikes Award as amateur baseball's top player and led Long Beach State to an NCAA Super Regional final.

The Angels' previous richest signing bonus was $2.25 million given Troy Glaus in 1997.

Jeff Weaver, six years older than Jered, said his brother was happy to have finally completed negotiations and ecstatic he won't have to go through the draft again.

"It's a tough process to go through when your goal is to play professional baseball," the elder Weaver said before the Dodgers faced the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night. "It's done and over with. It's time to move on. We all felt this was a good fit here in Anaheim for him.

"He's been on a workout regimen the last three months -- he's probably stronger than he's ever been. He's been throwing in the bullpen twice a week. It shouldn't take him long to get into the swing of things."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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