Quote of the Day: Bryce Harper's college coach

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“In my opinion, Bryce is the greatest amateur player ever to play baseball, and I am talking Mickey Mantle and others.”

Tim Chambers, Bryce Harper’s college coach, in a piece about how Harper is just itching to sign with the Nats and get playing baseball.  No pressure.

Worth noting that there is a 99.99999% probability that Harper will sign before Monday’s deadline. If he sinks back into next year’s loaded draft he loses a lot of money. Likewise, if the Nats don’t sign him it will just kill them, and will have rendered last year’s 100-loss season a disaster.

Why push it to the wire then? My guess is that Major League Baseball pressures the team with the top pick to hold off as late as possible to sign their guy so that the teams who pick from #2 on won’t have their guys saying “well, Harper signed for $X million, so I should get something close to that!”

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.