Tampa Bay Rays To Sign First Round Pick Justin O'Conner Later Today
Justin O'Conner, the 18-year-old catcher out of Cowan High School in Indiana, agreed to a contract with the Tampa Bay Rays early today.
O'Conner, the 31st pick of the draft, was committed to play for the University of Arkansas next year. Instead, he will forego that and report to Port Charlotte to play for the Rays' single-A ball club.
The details of the contract are unknown right now, but as a frame of reference, the Chicago Cubs signed outfielder Brett Jackson to a deal worth $972,000 last year.
O'Conner played both shortstop and catcher in high school, but he projects to be a catcher for the Rays, who are looking to stockpile some catching depth in their farm system.
O'Conner's strengths and weaknesses from an MLB.com scouting report done earlier this year:
Strengths: A lot of tools, including big-time raw power and a plus arm that some teams would rather see on the mound.
Weaknesses: If you take him as a catcher, he'll be very raw from there, without a ton of experience. If you want him to pitch, he's more of a thrower than a pitcher.
Details of the contract will given as soon as they are available.
UPDATE: Baseball America has reported that O'Conner has signed for $1,025,000.
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