With six days to go before deadline, 14 of top 16 draft picks still unsigned

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It looks like we’re going to have another very busy Aug. 15 this year.  As of Tuesday morning, only nine of the 30 first-round picks have signed.  A mere two of the top 16 have inked deals.

Here’s the top 16:

1. Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole
2. Mariners: LHP Danny Hultzen
3. Diamondbacks: RHP Trevor Bauer (SIGNED)
4. Orioles: RHP Dylan Bundy
5. Royals: OF Bubba Starling
6. Nationals: 3B Anthony Rendon
7. Diamondbacks: RHP Archie Bradley
8. Indians: SS Francisco Lindor
9. Cubs: SS Javier Baez
10. Padres: 2B Cory Spangenberg (SIGNED)
11. Astros: OF George Springer
12. Brewers: RHP Taylor Jungmann
13. Mets: OF Brandon Nimmo
14. Marlins: RHP Jose Fernandez
15. Brewers: LHP Jed Bradley
16. Dodgers: LHP Chris Reed

In the end, most of these guys are going to sign.  MLB is frowning upon teams giving above-slot contracts to players before the deadline, which works against the ability of teams to get deals done before Aug. 15.  Still, it’d be a surprise if more than one or two of these players went unsigned past the deadline.

The player here many viewed as the toughest signing going in, Starling, is sitting out football practice at Nebraska while negotiating with the Royals.  That would seem to bode well for Kansas City’s chances.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, haven’t signed any of their four first- and supplemental first-round picks.  WEEI’s Alex Speier runs down the situation with No. 19 pick Matt Barnes, No. 26 pick Blake Swihart, No. 36 pick Henry Owens and No. 40 pick Jackie Bradley Jr. here.

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.