Bucs sign Clemson QB recruit Chandler

Pirates go over slot value to ink potential two-way player

July 22nd, 2021

PHOENIX -- The Pirates have signed another top-end high school talent from this year’s Draft.

The club agreed to terms with third-round pick Bubba Chandler on Thursday morning at PNC Park. A source told MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo the deal came with a signing bonus of $3 million, which is well north of the $870,700 slot value for the No. 72 pick.

Savings on the first overall pick, Henry Davis, and scattered across the fifth through 10th rounds helped the Pirates sign the No. 21 Draft prospect away from his commitment to Clemson, where he was recruited to play both football and baseball.

Chandler was announced as a right-handed pitcher on Draft Day 2, but he was a two-way standout at North Oconee High School in Bogart, Ga. -- also the alma mater of No. 10 overall pick Kumar Rocker -- and general manager Ben Cherington said the 18-year-old is “legitimately talented on both sides.”

The Pirates listed him as a right-handed pitcher and shortstop in a press release on Thursday, indicating they’re going to give Chandler a shot.

“I think it’s exciting,” assistant general manager Steve Sanders said. “We don’t want to put any limits on what Bubba can be.”

Cherington told reporters after the Draft he thought Chandler excelled “especially on the mound.” The new Pirates prospect said the opportunity is exciting, but he knows he needs to refine his game to give himself a shot to be a great all-around player.

“I think I’m a little less advanced hitting than I am pitching right now,” Chandler said. “With hitting, if you want to be good, you’ve got to put in the work. I’m fully prepared to put in that work.”

Sanders said Chandler would report to the Florida Complex League -- where every 2021 Draft pick has been assigned so far -- on Thursday night, but it’s unclear when he will begin game action.

The Pirates now have about $1.5 million to work with to sign three other high school standouts -- outfielder Lonnie White Jr. (Competitive Balance Round B), right-handed pitcher Owen Kellington (fourth round) and outfielder Braylon Bishop (14th round) -- without incurring penalties.

If the Bucs choose to go over their allotted bonus pool by up to 5 percent -- which would incur a 75-percent tax but not a future Draft pick -- to lock up these players, they’re left with a maximum of $2,243,700 to work with.