Two weeks ago, Jeff Baker got his first look at Coors Field, the major-league home of the Colorado Rockies.
Invited by Rockies’ management to come out, Baker, accompanied by his advisor Scott Boras and Boras representative Bobby Brower, met with members of Colorado’s organization and took in a game.
So far, that’s been about the extent of Baker’s contact with the Rockies since the third baseman was selected by the team in the fourth round of the June draft out of Clemson University.
There were no figures floated around at the meeting, no contract terms discussed. It was only a meet-and-greet get-together.
“They asked me to come out and I talked about it with my family and my advisor,” said Baker. “It was a good chance to see what they are all about. We’ll just go from there.”
With school resuming at Clemson Aug. 21, Baker remains open to the possibility of going back to school for his senior year. Once he attends his first class, the Rockies lose their rights to him.
From the start, Baker was ready for drawn-out negotiations that more than likely will intensify once it gets closer to the cut-off date for him going back to school.
“I’m prepared either way,” Baker said. “I figured this could take the whole summer.”
Baker is one of only two Colorado draft picks that remains unsigned from the first 10 rounds. The other is second-round pick Micah Owings, a high school pitcher from Georgia.
Baker said he isn’t too concerned about the possible labor strike impacting his chances of signing or not. Already two teams, the Minnesota Twins and the Houston Astros, have held off signing their leftover picks to save money in case of a strike.
“If there is a work stoppage, there is really nothing you can do about it if you are a player,” Baker said. “I can’t get too caught up in that. The only one that gets hurt is the game.”
Baker has been in touch with Clemson head baseball coach Jack Leggett, keeping him informed about what is going on.
“Everyone is in the same boat,” Baker said. “You have to sit back and see what happens.”
Baker is one of three Clemson players drafted in June who remains unsigned.
The others are first baseman Michael Johnson, who was taken in the second round by the San Diego Padres, and pitcher Ryan Childs, who was taken in the 33rd round by Baltimore.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Johnson, who was chosen 54th overall, rejected an offer of $675,000 by the Padres. San Diego, in turn, decided to stop negotiations.
While talks with the Rockies inch their way along, Baker has been working out at Vanderbilt University in Nashville for almost two weeks with John Sisk, a former strength coach at Clemson.
“I have a lot of trust in him,” Baker said.
Baker was a projected first-round pick, but slipped to the fourth round after concerns arose over his signability and the fact he is represented by Boras, who has a reputation for being a hard-line negotiator.
Of the 12 players being advised by Boras from the June draft, only one has signed so far: Miami pitcher Kiki Bengochea, who was taken in the 11th round by Texas.
Baker and Boras have both insisted that Baker be judged on his talent, not what round he was selected in. Baker was a first-team all-American by Baseball America for the second straight year after hitting .325 with 25 homers and 87 RBI. He is Clemson’s all-time home run leader with 59.
“I’m just sitting back and seeing what the next move is,” Baker said.