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Third-Round Pick Is Signed To a Contract

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By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Washington Nationals put what could be the finishing touch on what they consider a successful 2006 draft by signing third-round pick Stephen King, a shortstop from Florida, meaning they have now come to terms with seven of their first eight picks.

"It's really turned out to be a really great draft for us," said Mike Rizzo, the team's vice president of baseball operations. "We kind of really checked off all the boxes we wanted to check off."

King, who had committed to Louisiana State, won't play in the minor league system this year because the franchise's rookie-ball team in Viera, Fla., wraps up play on Monday.

The only player among the team's top eight picks who hasn't signed is right-hander Sean Black, a second-round choice who has committed to play at Seton Hall. The Nationals have until the first day of classes, Sept. 5, to sign Black. If he enrolls, they lose him. Rizzo said the Nationals are not close to signing Black, and that they had put negotiations with him "on the back burner."

The team's two first-rounders, however, had their Gulf Coast League seasons cut short. Outfielder Chris Marrero contracted viral meningitis, and right-hander Colton Willems had shoulder fatigue. An MRI exam was negative, but the franchise shut him down anyway.

Soriano Put on Waivers?

According to a report on Foxsports.com, the Nationals placed left fielder Alfonso Soriano on waivers Tuesday. Team president Stan Kasten and General Manager Jim Bowden both declined to discuss the matter; commenting on waiver-wire moves can bring a hefty fine from Major League Baseball.

The move, though, is largely procedural. "At some point during the year, everybody's put on waivers," Manager Frank Robinson said.

When a player is placed on waivers, other teams have the right to put in a claim on that player, starting with the team with the worst record and moving up. The team that owns the player can do three things -- pull him back and keep him; let him go, and the claiming team takes on the terms of his contract; or work out a trade with the team that claims him in negotiations that are limited to 48 hours during the business week.

Soriano was puzzled by the news.

"Man, that surprises me right now," he said. "I don't know what to think now. . . . If they not trade me at the [non-waiver] trade deadline, why they want to put me on waivers now?"

The Nationals have already made one trade since the July 31 non-waiver deadline, dealing right-hander Livan Hernandez to Arizona. Kasten has said that the Nationals would like to sign Soriano to a long-term deal.


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