By Jon Nyatawa / World-Herald staff writer
LINCOLN — Nebraska two-sport signee Monte Harrison lasted longer in the Major League Baseball draft than most expected Thursday night, but Husker football coach Bo Pelini says it’s too soon to determine what kind of impact that will have on negotiations.
Harrison was projected by many as a first-round pick. He was one of seven high school players in studio for MLB Network’s live broadcast Thursday.
The Milwaukee Brewers selected Harrison 50th overall.
“Bottom-line, he went 50,” Pelini said Friday. “That means he’s got tremendous potential. And that’s still pretty high.”
Pelini said he’s not sure what to expect. He went through a similar process with another high-profile recruit, when quarterback signee Bubba Starling was drafted No. 5 overall in 2011. Starling eventually signed a pro baseball deal.
Each kid, each family, each circumstance is different, according to Pelini.
“Monte has to make a determination for what’s best for his future,” Pelini said. “He’s a great kid. We’re on the same page, he and I — as far as where it is right now.”
Pelini said he was in contact with Harrison during the draft Thursday and again after it. As of Friday morning, though, Pelini wasn’t yet sure if the 6-foot-2, 205-pound receiver would join the football team in Lincoln for summer conditioning workouts next week.
“We’re ready for him to come,” Pelini said.
Harrison, who watched the draft from the MLB Network studio in New Jersey Thursday, could not be reached for comment. Harrison’s adviser, Rob Martin, declined an interview request Friday morning.
The deadline for drafted players to sign professional contracts is July 18.
A Milwaukee front office executive acknowledged Thursday night that signing the outfielder from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, is not a certainty.
Bruce Seid, director of amateur scouting for the Brewers, told reporters Thursday that he viewed drafting Harrison as an “opportunity” because of the prospect’s potential. But nothing’s guaranteed.
“We know it’s probably going to be a tougher sign,” Seid said, “but at the same time, you have to take opportunities like this. If we can make it work, we’ll make it work.”
Area scout Drew Anderson, who lettered with the Nebraska baseball program from 2001 to 2003, will work on Milwaukee’s behalf to try to persuade Harrison to sign a deal. Seid planned to speak with Harrison on Friday.
The Brewers have been allotted a total of $7.6 million (ninth-most among MLB teams) to use on signing bonuses for all of the players they draft within the first 10 rounds. It’s likely that they’ll offer Harrison more than $1.1 million, the predetermined signing bonus value assigned to the No. 50 pick.
Seid certainly had plenty of positive things to say about Harrison’s potential.
“I don’t ever want to put names to a player, but All-Star comparisons have come up on him,” Seid said. “He has a chance to play center field. He has good instincts out there, his strides are outstanding. He’s got a plus arm, he’s got plus raw power and his speed is above average. It’s just like anything: It’s about playing the game, getting enough at-bats and being patient in watching him develop.”
Milwaukee used its 41st overall pick to draft shortstop Jacob Gatewood, a high school player from Clovis, California. Gatewood, a USC baseball recruit, may have dropped a bit, too.
The franchise’s general manger, Doug Melvin, said Thursday that the Brewers didn’t want to let Gatewood or Harrison slide for much longer on that first day.
“If you don’t take them early, you’re not going to get them,” Melvin said. “They’re just going to go to school.”
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