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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Harrington Still Showing Independence

Baseball: Stuck in negotiations with Colorado Rockies, he signs with St. Paul of independent league.

November 09, 2000|From Staff Reports

Pitcher Matt Harrington has finally signed a contract . . . though not the one he initially envisioned.

The former Palmdale High ace and the No. 7 pick in the June amateur draft has agreed to terms with the St. Paul Saints, an independent team in the Northern League.

The right-hander has been entangled in negotiations with the Colorado Rockies since June and has been offered a $4 million signing bonus by the Rockies.

"I just want to play baseball and this is a good way to do that," Harrington said.

Asked about progress in talks with the Rockies, Harrington said, "Whatever happens, happens."

The Rockies still own negotiating rights with Harrington, whose fastball has been clocked at 97 mph and went 11-0 with 126 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings his senior season at Palmdale.

The Rockies retain his rights until a week before next year's draft, but Harrington could reenter the draft if a deal is not reached by then.

By signing with the Saints, Harrington closes the door on playing for Pierce College, an option he considered.

Signing with St. Paul is a route usually reserved for more experienced players.

Former St. Paul players include Darryl Strawberry, Leon Durham and Jack Morris.

J.D. Drew, who could not come to terms with the Philadelphia Phillies as the No. 2 pick in the 1997 draft, played for the Saints before eventually signing with the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Saints' season begins in May, but Harrington needed to sign with an independent team in order to play in the Pan-Am World Cup qualifying tournament, which begins Nov. 24 in Panama.

"This is a talented and very determined young man with a marvelous future ahead of him," St. Paul Manager Marty Scott said.

Scott will manage the U.S. World Cup team.

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