Brewers ink 1st-rounder Clark, plus 2 top picks
Right-handers Ponce (2nd), Walters (3rd) also sign contracts
MILWAUKEE -- Less than a week after the Brewers called their names, three of the club's top Draft picks signed their first professional contracts on Monday at Miller Park and began a journey they hope will lead them back to this very spot.
First-round pick Trent Clark, an outfielder from Richland (Texas) High School, signed slightly above slot value for $2.7 million and took batting practice with the rest of the Brewers at Miller Park while second-rounder Cody Ponce and third-rounder Nash Walters were completing their physical exams. Ponce, a right-hander from Cal Poly-Pomona, signed right at slot for $1.108 million, according to a source, and Walters, a right-hander from Lindale (Texas) High School, signed for close to the slot value assigned the 90th overall pick, which was $646,000. The club did not confirm the financial terms of the signings.
Clark and Walters, who are both 18 years old, will begin their professional careers at rookie-level Arizona. Ponce, 21, will head to rookie Helena.
"We all grew up playing this game we love," Ponce said. "This is our No. 1 dream, this is our No. 1 goal, to be able to play in the Major Leagues. ... Might as well start this journey as quick as we can."
Clark, Ponce and Walters were the Brewers' first official signings, though many other selections from last week's three-day Draft have already agreed to terms and will be announced by the club in the coming days and weeks.
Among the players yet to sign are University of Virginia left-hander Nate Kirby, whose team is still active in the College World Series. The Brewers took Kirby in Competitive Balance Round A between the first and second rounds. Fourth-rounder Demi Orimoloye, a toolsy, high school outfielder from Canada, will forgo a scholarship to Oregon to sign with the Brewers.
"When they changed the [Collective Bargaining Agreement], it does enable these guys to get out and start their pro careers," amateur scouting director Ray Montgomery said. "For Trent and [players] on the offensive side, it's another 250-300 at-bats. They can get into our system and get comfortable with what they are doing. I think it's a win-win for both sides."
Wearing a navy blue batting practice jersey with Adam Lind's No. 24 on the back, Clark joined fellow first-round pick Ryan Braun and the rest of the Brewers for Monday's pre-game workout, taking his first left-handed swings in the batter's box at Miller Park.
Asked for his first impression of Clark, manager Craig Counsell smiled and said, "A firm handshake." He advised Clark to simply enjoy the day.
"It was fun to be around all the big league guys and talk to a few guys and just learn some stuff," Clark said, "let them tell me about their time in the Minors and what it was like getting up here, how gratifying it was and how hard you have to work to get here."