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Scheppers' signing hinges on health

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

CINCINNATI -- Second-round draft pick Tanner Scheppers is hopeful he will sign with the Pirates soon after team doctors examine him at the end of the month in Pittsburgh.

Scheppers, a right-hander at Fresno State, had been projected as a first-round pick. But he has been out since May with damage to his rotator cuff and labrum, which scared off some scouts.

The injury did not require surgery, but it caused Scheppers to tumble to the 48th overall pick. It also cost him a multimillion-dollar signing bonus.

"There was talk that I'd be snapped up in the first 10 picks," Scheppers said Tuesday in a phone interview. "That was my expectation before I got hurt. But I'm grateful the Pirates are giving me a chance."

Scheppers said he tentatively is scheduled to come to Pittsburgh on July 27 for a series of medical exams. He also expects to throw off a mound for general manager Neal Huntington and Pirates scouts at PNC Park.

Scheppers recently resumed throwing on flat ground. He is soft-tossing from 60 feet, and will progress to 75, 100 and 120 feet before getting on the mound again.

If all goes well with Scheppers workout/exam, the Pirates will have about three weeks to work out a deal. The deadline for teams to sign draft picks is Aug. 15.

"Time will tell," Huntington said. "Obviously, he had expectations going into the draft. Our expectations are, he fell to the 48th pick in the country, so we're going to have to find common ground somewhere in the middle. We do feel that he's progressed medically enough to make a good offer."

The third, fourth and fifth picks of the second round already have come to terms with their respective teams. Second baseman Johnny Giavotella, who was drafted one spot behind Scheppers by Kansas City, got a $787,000 bonus.

High school outfielder Xavier Avery signed with the Orioles for a $900,000 bonus. The fifth pick in the round, high school outfielder Anthony Gose, got a $772,000 bonus from the Phillies.

"I definitely think we can come to common ground," Scheppers said. "I've been talking with my (financial) adviser about it. We will be able to reach an agreement."

Scheppers' advisor, Greg Genske, did not return a phone call from the Tribune-Review.

Batting .333

The Pirates have signed only two of their top six draft picks:

Round 1Pedro Alvarez, 3B Hush-hush negotiations with agent Scott Boras are under way

Round 2Tanner Scheppers, RHP He may have been overworked this season, leading to shoulder injury

Round 3Jordy Mercer, SS Got $508,000 signing bonus; playing for Class A Hickory

Round 4Chase d'Arnaud, SS Got $293,000 signing bonus; playing for Class A State College

Round 5Justin Wilson, LHP College World Series hero has plenty of life on his fastball

Round 6Rob Grossman, OF Money demands may be too high; he could end up at the University of Texas

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