Gators wide receiver Riley Cooper picks football over baseball

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Riley Cooper was picked by the Rangers in the 25th round of last June’s draft as an outfielder at the University of Florida, but he was also Tim Tebow’s second-favorite target as a wide receiver for the Gators and said yesterday that he plans to pursue a football career:

Football’s definitely the route I want to take. Toward the last couple of weeks of the football season, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. That’s my makeup, my mentality. I’m just a football player, not a baseball player.

While many two-sport stars have chosen baseball over football, Cooper’s decision seems like a no-brainer given that he’s projected to go in the fourth round of the NFL draft. He was set to get a $250,000 bonus from the Rangers, but last year the average fourth-round pick in the NFL got a bonus of around $450,000 as part of a package worth about $2.25 million.
Along those same lines, if I were a fourth-round pick as a baseball blogger (overdraft!) and a 25th-round pick as a male model (underdraft!) I’d probably have to give up my career of being sexy. In this case the decision is doubly easy because in addition to being a significantly higher pick in football, Cooper will be in the NFL next season whereas it would take him at least a few years to advance through the minors before joining the Rangers (and there’s a strong chance he’d never get there).
Higher pick, quicker path, and more immediate money. Good luck on Sundays.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.