08/17/10 12:49 AM ET
Rockies, Parker ink last-minute deal
Second-rounder Tago also signs before deadline
By Joey Nowak / MLB.com
The two-sport standout from Clemson, Colorado's first choice in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft and the 26th pick overall, signed for $1.4 million with just minutes to spare before the deadline at 10 p.m. MST. Parker became the first player in NCAA history this year to throw 20 touchdown passes and hit 20 home runs. Leading the team in homers, Parker the versatile outfielder helped lead the Tigers to the College World Series semifinals this season with a .344 average and 64 RBIs.
Talks had reportedly slowed between the organization and the player in late July, when Parker announced he'd return to Clemson to play football. A junior in baseball eligibility, the freshman All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection was only a freshman in football status.
Parker will be allowed to play football in the fall and will report to Spring Training next season.
Parker becomes the second elite football/baseball player selected in the Rockies' haul to be signed, following fourth-round choice Russell Wilson, who played outfield and quarterback at North Carolina State.The Rockies are hoping the two will follow in the footsteps of Seth Smith (Mississippi) and Todd Helton (Tennessee), who played quarterback at their respective universities before making it to the big leagues. Parker was projected as an eventual high choice for the NFL draft.
News of Parker's signing came just hours after the club announced the signing of its second pick and the No. 47 overall choice, right-hander Peter Tago out of Dana Hills (Calif.) High School.
Tago, selected in the supplemental round as compensation for Jason Marquis, was ranked the No. 18 right-hander available in the Draft by Baseball America and had initially committed to Cal State Fullerton.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-hander -- also listed as the fifth-best prospect in California -- went 10-3 with a 2.77 ERA this year as a senior. He struck out 97 and walked 21 in 86 innings for Dana Hills, striking out 10 or more batters in four of his 14 starts.
"He's very projectable, probably along the line of Esmil Rogers -- a Pedro Astacio-type arm, a loose, projectable arm," said Bill Schmidt, Rockies vice president of scouting, after the Draft. "Our people, our pitching coordinators and [assistant general manager] Bill Geivett have been out to see him. A lot of people think that he'll develop."
Overall, the Rockies' Draft haul focused on predominantly older, experienced players -- Texas Tech, Clemson, Alabama, Oregon State and Florida State were among the alma maters of players taken in the first 10 rounds -- in a Draft reputed to be thin.
"It makes a world of difference going out of college than high school," said Josh Rutledge, the Rockies' third-round pick out of Alabama, when he was selected. "I'm definitely way more mature, I've seen different arms from a hitting standpoint and I'm so much better defensively. It gives you a leg up on some of the younger guys."
Parker and Wilson both came to Denver to work out with the Rockies and get a feel for life in the big leagues.
"It's everything I expected," Wilson said during his visit. "It's a great staff and everything."
The Rockies wasted no time signing reliever Chad Bettis (second round, Texas Tech), shortstop Joshua Rutledge (third round, Alabama) and Wilson by the end of June.
A player who does not sign and attends a four-year college is not eligible for the Draft again until he completes his junior year of college or turns 21 years old.
Joey Nowak is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.