Yankees working to sign top picks

Yanks working to sign top picks

MINNEAPOLIS -- With Friday the deadline to sign picks from June's First-Year Player Draft, dialogue continues between the Yankees and touted prep right-hander Gerrit Cole, the club's first-round selection.

The Yankees have yet to sign their top three picks, including Cole, a 17-year-old from Orange Lutheran High School in California who was taken 28th overall. New York also tabbed Stanford University left-hander Jeremy Bleich as the 44th choice and took University of Mississippi right-hander Joseph Bittle at No. 75.

General manager Brian Cashman would not speak to the specifics of negotiations, but said, "We drafted them for a reason. We didn't draft them not to sign them."

Cole and Bleich are both represented by Scott Boras. It appears likely that an agreement will be reached before midnight on Friday, when unsigned players' rights are lost and the talent is returned to the Draft pool for next year. The Yankees' stance on Bittle is more uncertain, as it has been speculated that he may return to Ole Miss in the fall.

"They're obviously not signed," Cashman said of all three top picks."We have until the 15th, and if we don't sign them, then we'll take the compensation. Other than that, I wouldn't make the call on anything."

Cole has been clocked in the high-90s with his fastball and, though he is weighing an offer to attend UCLA as a college freshman, said in June that he will seriously consider signing a professional contract with the Yankees.

"I've always admired the Yankees -- obviously, they're my favorite team," Cole said. "I guess you can weigh it in somewhat, but we're just going to have to think it out as a family and use the help of our advisers and make a decision that's right for me."

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, Cole went 8-2 with a 0.47 ERA as a senior at Orange Lutheran this year, striking out 121 batters in 75 innings, allowing 13 runs (five earned) and walking eight.

Though Boras' representation has played a factor for some smaller-market teams not inclined to extend large contracts to prospects, New York has not been shy about pursuing Boras clients in recent years; first-round picks Ian Kennedy (2006) and Andrew Brackman ('07) were also contracted with Boras.

Bleich is the only supplemental-round pick remaining unsigned. A product of Metairie, La., Bleich was drafted for the first time after being limited to five games in 2008 at Stanford. He batled left elbow tendinitis from March through mid-May.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound southpaw was 2-2 with a 1.09 ERA, allowing four earned runs in 33 innings and striking out 26 while holding opponents to a .189 batting average. He closed out the season with a stretch of 14 2/3 scoreless innings. The Yankees were provided with the compensation pick used to select Bleich after losing right-hander Luis Vizcaino to the Colorado Rockies via free agency.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.