The Washington Nationals thought they were lucky to get switch-hitting catcher Adrian Nieto in the fifth round of the 2008 Draft and they said so. Maybe they should have kept their mouths shut, because Nieto demanded - and got - money normally reserved for a player taken as high as the third round to sign with the Nationals.
Washington, who would have been figured to spend around $180,000 to sign Nieto, doled out more than twice that amound [$376,000] to sign Nieto. No other fifth rounder had gotten more than $225,000 this season. The rationale is that Nieto slipped because of concerns over an elbow injury, which the Nationals are satisfied is 100% healed, so they finally blinked and gave him the deal that he wanted.
Outside of first round pick Aaron Crow, who is also still unsigned, Nieto was probably the most important signing for the Nationals in the final days before the August 15th signing deadline. Nieto could have gone on to play at Miami Dade College, but elected to sign the deal with the Nationals instead.
With the deadline looming for this Friday, the Nationals still have Crow and two other top five picks - high schoolers Danny Espinosa and Graham Hicks - unsigned to round out getting their top 10 picks in the fold. Outside of the top 10, there are still 21 Nationals' picks that are still unsigned and many of them are likely to go unsigned.
Nieto, who was generally thought of as the best switch-hitting catcher in the draft, will report to the Nationals Gulf Coast League team on Tuesday and will immediately join their active roster.