ATLANTA -- AJ Smith-Shawver had a chance to play baseball and football at Texas Tech. But the seventh-round selection in the 2021 Draft will instead begin his professional baseball career courtesy of the near $1 million bonus the Braves have provided.
According to MLB.com’s Jim Callis, the Braves have signed Smith-Shawver with a $997,500 bonus. This is $795,900 above the multi-sport star’s slot value. It was also the cost needed to influence the 18-year-old Texan to decline the opportunity to pitch and play quarterback for Texas Tech.
“We love that he’s a two-sport star because we know he’s really athletic and a good, strong, physical kid,” Braves vice president of scouting Dana Brown said. “We think he has some upside to be pretty special."
Smith-Shawver didn’t begin pitching regularly until last summer, but he immediately impressed scouts and kept their interest as his fastball touched 96 mph this spring.
The Braves also went over-slot to sign another Texas high school product. Outfielder Tyler Collins, an eighth-round selection, received a $447,500 signing bonus. His slot value was $166,100.
The Braves strategically targeted Smith-Shawver and Collins knowing they would be over-slot signings. They were able to sign both courtesy of the under-slot deals given to Dylan Dodd (third round), Luke Waddell (fifth round), Liam McGill (ninth round) and Dylan Spain (10th round).
Dodd ($482,300), Waddell ($85,500), McGill ($143,800) and Spain ($125,700) combined to account for $835,700 worth of savings from the team’s bonus pool.
One other signing on Tuesday was Georgia Tech infielder Justyn-Henry Malloy, who signed slightly over-slot at $297,500. His slot value was $257,400.