Cord Sandberg makes it official, signs with Philadelphia Phillies

SCF players Smith, Oliver chosenon quiet final day for local players

HERALD STAFF,WIRE REPORTSJune 8, 2013 

Whether he was orchestrating a game-winning drive inside Hawkins Stadium or delivering a key hit under the lights at G.T. Bray park, Cord Sandberg had a flair for the dramatic during his days as a Manatee Hurricane.

But when it came to making the biggest decision of his young life, Sandberg kept things as anticlimactic as possible.

A little more than 24 hours after being drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies, Sandberg signed with the organization late Saturday night.

Sandberg had an option: Sign a pro contract or head to Mississippi State, which offered him a four-year scholarship to play football.

Sandberg chose the Phillies. He signed for a $775,000 signing bonus, which the sides agreed to Friday not long after Philadelphia selected Sandberg in the third round with the 89th overall pick, as well as four years of tuition equivalent to what it costs to attend Mississippi State.

If Sandberg does decide to go to college in the future, he can attend any school the tuition covers.

"I wanted to do baseball. The signing bonus obviously was a big part of it," he said. "But with the tuition, why wouldn't you want to play professional baseball? If you make it, boom, you make it. If you don't, you go back to college."

The slot value for the draft's 89th pick was $593,400, according to Baseball America.

"There's no dragging it out, throwing figures back and forth," said Sandberg, who was being advised by Excel Sports Management. "My guys did a good job of maximizing the most out of my slot. We got it done."

Having made his decision, Sandberg called Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen and told him he wasn't coming to Starksville.

"He was happy for me, happy that I was doing what I wanted to do," Sandberg said. "He said as long as I was happy doing what I was doing, he was happy. He said, 'Hey, I'm here. Keep me updated and stay in touch, and let me know if you ever want to come back.'"

Sandberg heads to Philadelphia next week to take a physical with the team doctors and will then report to the franchise's Gulf Coast League team in Clearwater.

The GCL seasons opens June 21, and the GCL Phillies head to Pirate City on June 27 to face the GCL Pirates.

"I'm excited to go there," said Sandberg, who said he was pleased the whole process was over. "I'm a Phillie."

Saturday's draft

State College of Florida freshman Connor Oliver realized as baseball's amateur draft entered its third day Saturday that he was not about to get rich with his first pro contract.

So Oliver had a decision to make: one more year as a Manatee or get started on the long climb to the major leagues.

Soon after the Atlanta Braves selected him in the 23rd round, the outfielder made the call. It's time to go pro.

"I thought that maybe I had a chance to go higher," Oliver said. "After the 10th round, I knew with the money I would get it would be whether I wanted to go back to SCF or start my professional career early."

Oliver and the Braves agreed to a $100,000 signing bonus. Oliver said he will report to a rookie mini-camp in Orlando and expects to play for Atlanta's team in the Gulf Coast League.

Oliver, a native of Washington state who graduated high school in Maryland, said his one year at SCF helped prepare him for a professional career.

"The reason I went down here was because I wanted to get drafted and not go back to school," Oliver said.

It was a fairly quiet day for area players as the 40-round Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft wound down.

Oliver's classmate at SCF, pitcher/first baseman Jarred Smith, was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 14th round, and former SCF player L.B. Dantzler, now a main cog at South Carolina, was chosen in the same round by the Toronto Blue Jays. Former IMG Academy player Dillon Moyer, the son of longtime pitcher Jamie Moyer, was taken in the 38th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

SCF had hoped to get four more players drafted, and IMG Academy expected Manny Ramirez Jr. and Lakewood Ranch product Brett Hanewich to get serious consideration.

But SCF players Connor Hale and Orlando Rivera are bound for big-time college programs in LSU and Florida, respectively, which may have discouraged teams from taking them in later rounds.

Smith, who shared closing duties with Devin Raftery last season at SCF, is coveted as a reliever because he throws in the mid-90s. He said the Rangers called him in the seventh round, but he declined their offer.

Smith said he will decide later whether to turn pro or try to walk on at Florida State next season.

"I was really excited, just thanking God for blessing me with this opportunity," Smith said.

Dantzler, a senior first baseman for the Gamecocks, received the Capital One Academy All-American of the Year Award after tying for the SEC lead with 15 home runs. He hit .332 with 48 RBIs and 43 runs scored. On Saturday, Dantzler played in a super regional game against North Carolina, going 2-for-3 in a 6-5 loss.

Moyer, a shortstop, played his junior season at University of California San Diego. He hit .298 with 28 RBIs, 33 runs scored and 15 stolen bases.

On Friday, former SCF outfielder Omar Garcia, who played last season at Miami Dade College, was taken by the Milwaukee Brewers in the seventh round.

Garcia is an outfielder.

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