03/02/2003 1:01 pm ET
Cubs sign top draft pick Brownlie
Right-hander was 22-10 in three seasons at Rutgers
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
MESA, Ariz. -- Bobby Brownlie is finally a Chicago Cub.
The Cubs announced Sunday they have agreed to terms with their top draft pick and the right-handed pitcher will report to the minor league camp on Monday.
Brownlie, 22, who was 22-10 in three seasons at Rutgers, signed a $2.5 million contract that includes one year of school and incentives.
"You always want to make every attempt to sign your first pick," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said.
The right-hander waited until the last minute. He had considered returning to Rutgers to finish college for the second semester, which began in January. The second he went to class, the Cubs would have lost all rights to him.
"I've been joking with my parents that nothing comes easy for me," Brownlie said Sunday, pausing from packing for Spring Training. "I'm happy with the outcome right now. It was a long process for both sides and I'm just happy we were able to come to an agreement."
The 21st player taken overall in last June's draft, Brownlie was hindered his junior season because of tendinitis in his right shoulder. In 2002, he was 6-6 with five complete games and a 3.50 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) for Rutgers. During his college career, he struck out 241 batters over 266 innings, walking 63.
"We felt that in the end he wanted to play," said John Stockstill, the Cubs scouting director.
"There were days where there were doubts," Brownlie said. "I'd be lying if I said there weren't. I'm just happy that we were able to come to something."
Brownlie, who was represented by agent Scott Boras, threw for Stockstill and Hendry on Jan. 20 in California to show that he was over his shoulder problems.
"The main thing was just to test to see that he's healthy and he was," Stockstill said Sunday. "He looked fine."
The Cubs had 10 of the first 123 selections in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, and now have signed all 10. Why the holdout by Brownlie?
"I think they felt they were trying to get a certain amount of money with what had happened with some players above, and maybe a couple below, and wanted to test the market as long as they could, or test us," Stockstill said. "In the end what was there was what was there."
Brownlie hasn't set a timetable as to when he wants to get to the Major Leagues.
"We're on the same page where I don't need to be rushed," he said of himself and the Cubs. "There's plenty of arms in the organization. There's a lot of good pitching. The best thing for me is to develop and not say I have to be here by such a time or anything like that. When I'm ready, hopefully I'll get the opportunity and can step in and help.
"I appreciate the Cubs taking a chance on me," he said. "I know I was highly touted going into the year and I get hurt and it's hard to battle and pitch through the soreness and everything like that. The Cubs took a chance on me. They treated me fairly."
Stockstill expected the young pitcher to move quickly through the Cubs minor league system. He will most likely begin at Class A Lansing.
"Our reports on Bobby over the last four, five years is that he has a good curveball and he's a pitcher who we think will move quickly," Stockstill said. "He has four pitches and command of the zone, so we think he has a very good upside."
"I guess you could say (the curveball) is my out pitch," said Brownlie, who has been working on a two-seam fastball as well.
And his shoulder?
"My shoulder is actually the best it's been since I was in college," he said. "It was unfortunate last year that I had those problems, because I never had any arm problems, ever. It's very strong and I worked with a trainer the whole offseason, and it's definitely the strongest it's ever been."
Brownlie may not even see the big-league team. He'll report to Fitch Park with the rest of the minor league players. It's OK. There's no rush to be in the same rotation as Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.
"Those guys are there now and they're established," Brownlie said. "My job is to go out and improve now and hopefully have the opportunity to be able to step in with those guys. With pitchers like that, I'm not going to have to be the stud on the staff that I've had to be my whole life. I can just concentrate on getting guys out."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Its nice to see the Cubs finally landed him. I had been watching this story for a while now. With the Cubs rotation the way it is it'll be good for Brownlie to be able to take his time in the minors and develop accordingly without being rushed. He could be a great rookie prospect in a year or two!