Tuesday, August 28, 2007

High school baseball stars cash in

Brother, can you spare a dime?

David Mailman and Madison Bumgarner can.

The two best high school baseball players in North Carolina cashed in recently, and signed huge contracts to play professionally.

It couldn’t have happened to two nicer, more well-grounded young men.

Mailman, who graduated from Providence High, signed a deal worth $550,000 with the Boston Red Sox. The picked Mailman in the seventh round, but even on draft day in June, he said he wanted the equivalent of second-round money.

The deep-pocked Red Sox ponied up for Mailman, an outfielder who slammed 14 home runs, hit .541, walked 35 times and had a 1.361 slugging percentage, all school records, as a senior.

Mailman was Providence’s unassuming star. Wasn’t the Panthers’ biggest, loudest or fastest player. Always yes-sir, no-sir. He thanked me about nine times after an interview in the preseason. Didn’t have to.

Mailman started last week with the Red Sox of the Gulf Coast Rookie League, where humidity is thicker than the fans in the stands. He’s hitting .227 (five-for-22) with a home run and two RBIs.

Bumgarner, a lefthanded pitcher from South Caldwell High, signed a $2 million deal with the San Francisco Giants. He was a first-round pick (No. 10 overall), and will report to the fall instructional league in Arizona.

Bumgarner, a 6-foot-5, 220-pounder, has a 95 mph fastball. He was Gatorade N.C. player of the year, and made several All-America teams.

His size and blazing pitches made him stand out as a high schooler, but Bumgarner was humble and thankful every time I spoke with him.

He hugged teammates - all the Spartans did - after every game.

Both stars had fallback plans if the money wasn’t right. Mailman was headed to Wake Forest, and Bumgarner to North Carolina. They won’t meet in college, but in the pro ranks, you never know.

At least they won’t have to argue over who buys lunch.

-- Cliff Mehrtens


Anonymous said...

A nice, well grounded young man who was drafted in the seventh round and wants second round money?

I don't think so.

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