Sleeth Signs With Tigers
By John Manuel
Entering August, none of the first four picks of the 2003 draft had signed. Sunday, however, the Detroit Tigers signed righthander Kyle Sleeth, who joined Brewers choice Rickie Weeks in signing a professional contract. That leaves No. 1 overall pick Delmon Young, selected by the Devil Rays, and Padres selection Tim Stauffer, a righthander out of Richmond, unsigned.
Unlike Weeks, a second baseman out of Southern who got a major league contract, Sleeth signed for a straight bonus, reported to be $3.35 million. Weeks received a $3.6 million bonus, though his overall contract is worth at least $4.8 million.
A righthander out of Wake Forest, Sleeth will not pitch in 2003, but rather will spend time with both the Tigers and Triple-A Toledo before reporting in the fall to instructional league in Florida. He's expected to work out for a week in Toledo with minor league pitching instructor Jon Matlack and Mud Hens pitching coach Jeff Jones before returning to Detroit to be schooled by Matlack and Tigers pitching coach Bob Cluck.
"We felt it was best for Kyle that he have some time off to get what we felt was some much-needed rest," Tigers scouting director Greg Smith said. "Obviously there's a business aspect going through the signing process. We felt it was a win-win situation to allow that to take its course." Sleeth was introduced at a Sunday morning press conference in Detroit," Sleeth said. "Hopefully I can follow that same path."
Sleeth was the third overall pick and the second college player taken in this year's draft. In three seasons at Wake Forest, Sleeth posted a 31-6, 3.47 record and tied a Division I mark by winning 26 consecutive decisions, a streak that spanned two years from March 2001 to March 2003. In his 293 innings as a Deacon, he had 271 strikeouts with 101 walks. Sleeth finished his junior season with 7-3, 2.81 record, 102 strikeouts in 96 innings with just 29 walks.