Cook High’s Kaleb Cowart is reportedly seeking a $3-million signing bonus after being drafted No. 18 overall by the LA Angels, according to the Los Angeles Times.
When contacted on Tuesday night by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cowart politely declined to discuss sales figures, saying “I think everything is going smoothly [with negotiations]. We’ll probably see closer to the [Aug. 16] deadline with how things work out.”
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound was considered the No. 1 two-way player in the country out of high school, winning honors as Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year. Cowart has been clocked at 97 mph as a right-handed pitcher, but preferred to be drafted as a switch-hitting third baseman — a wish that was granted by the Angels.
It was reported that Cowart is seeking the same bonus money as another two-way player, Casey Kelley, who was the No. 30 pick of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox and signed for $3 million. The No. 18 pick of last year’s draft, left-handed pitcher Chad James from Yukon, Okla., signed with the Florida Marlins for $1.7 million.
Cowart said he had “good conversations” with the Angels after being drafted, with team officials offering to fly him out to California to meet with organization and local media. Cowart, who just wrapped up his high school baseball season last week, said, “They mentioned [bringing me out], but I’m going to wait for now because we’re still in negotiations.”
The Angels have until Aug. 16 to sign Cowart or he will report to Florida State, where he has signed a baseball scholarship.
What will Cowart do this summer? Will he play again for the East Cobb Braves or another summer team while waiting on the Angels or Florida State? “No, I’m going to work out down here at my house [in Adel, Ga.],” Cowart told the AJC. ”I’m going to continue to hit and throw every day, while lifting weights to get stronger. That way, I’ll be ready for Florida State if I go there, or be prepared for the Angels if I play minor-league ball.”
The Angels have a lovefest with Georgia high school talent, also drafting East Coweta pitcher Cam Bedrosian (No. 29) and Marietta outfielder Chevez Clarke (No. 30) in Monday’s first round. All three are friends from summer baseball over the years, and called each other with congratulations. “I talked to Cam late Monday, and finally caught up with Chevy [on Tuesday],” Cowart said. “We all think the Angels are a first-class organization, and think it would be neat if it all worked out with us playing together.”
Bedrosian has signed with LSU, while Clarke signed with Georgia Tech.
Cowart was asked about how he reflected on the first 24 hours after being drafted. “Overwhelming. It has been great, and [the attention] is a good problem to have. But it’s a little overwhelming, and I’m ready to go fishing.”