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Arizona signs top pick

By Mark Gonzales
September 13, 2001

The Diamondbacks signed righthander Jason Bulger, their first-round pick, after a long summer of negotiations.

The senior from Valdosta (Ga.) State, the 22nd overall pick, received a signing bonus and other incentives that could be worth around $950,000. The deal represents a compromise on both sides, and the Diamondbacks were able to spread out the bonus within the confines of major league rules, though sources wouldn't divulge exact numbers or details.

Bulger likely will receive an invitation to major league spring training. The 22-year-old was 7-2, 1.47 with seven saves, and 44 strikeouts in 49 innings last season. Bulger, who walked on as a third baseman before moving to the mound as a junior, throws his fastball in the 93-95 mph range and has touched 96. He will donate a portion of his signing bonus to Diamondbacks charities and other organizations.

The team plans to bring Bulger from his suburban Atlanta home to Tucson by the end of the month to work out with the organization's Arizona Fall League players. Bulger, however, won't play professionally until a couple of months later when he reports for the International Baseball League Australia.

"There's a shorter time frame, and the games are more concentrated," said general manager Joe Garagiola Jr., who negotiated the deal with Bulger's agents from the Ocatgon Group. "This puts him on good footing for when he comes to spring training."

Mark Gonzales covers the Diamondbacks for the Arizona Republic.

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