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Gator agrees to deal

By JOHN C. COTEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 13, 2000


He didn't get exactly what he wanted, but he got enough.

And Tuesday, Land O'Lakes lefty Derek Thompson will make it official by signing a professional baseball contract with the Cleveland Indians.

The 37th overall pick will be flown to Cleveland today for a tour of Jacobs Field, where he will sign his contract after a short press conference.

"It's going to be pretty cool to get out and finally play some ball," Thompson said. "I've been waiting for this day all my life."

Thompson said he was going to "keep the terms disclosed," but his father, Bob, said Sunday the Indians had offered a package worth more than $900,000, including scholarship money, before talks stalled. "No, (I didn't get what I wanted), but it was close enough," Thompson said. "They made a final offer and weren't going to go any higher, so we knew that and took it."

"I think the family got a very, very fair offer," said Hank Sargent of Capital Sports Management, which represents Thompson. "We felt like under the parameters (set by the front office and ownership of the Indians), there was a nice directional meeting in the middle."

Sargent said Thompson will sign today and throw in the bullpen prior to the Central Division showdown between the Indians and Chicago White Sox. The Indians had their other No. 1 pick, Corey Smith (26th overall), hit during batting practice Sunday, though he has not yet come to terms.

Thompson will fly back to Land O'Lakes, spend a few days at home and then meet up with the Indians' Class-A Burlington team in Winter Haven, where they are holding a rookie minicamp, on Saturday. The team will leave that day for North Carolina for the short-season Appalachian League.

Thompson, who will make $850 a month with Burlington, has been out of Florida just twice and has only attended a game at Tropicana Field.

As the ace of the Gators' highly touted pitching staff this year, he set a school record for wins with nine (against no losses) and 111 strikeouts in 60 innings. He was rated the 59th-best prospect by Baseball America and No. 9 in Florida. Teamonebaseball.com listed him as the state's top prospect.

Thompson joins teammate Kurt Shafer in the pro ranks. Shafer signed with Pittsburgh, who drafted him in the eighth round (239th overall) last week.

A third Gator, Cory Doyne, is awaiting an offer from Houston and said Monday, "It's going to be this week. I know that."

Doyne also was an eighth-round pick (247th overall).

Zephyrhills' Brett Cimorelli is still waiting to hear from the Anaheim Angels, who picked the Bulldog star in the 20th round.

The two sides met Thursday, but the Angels have yet to meet Cimorelli's asking price. According to Bruce Cimorelli, Brett's father, the Angels' first offer was turned down and they expect another call later this week.

"They haven't called back yet," he said. "We told them what our bottom line is. And if they meet it, they meet it. And if they don't. ... Brett's in a no-lose situation."

Cimorelli has a scholarship to attend Florida State, where he is expected to be the starting placekicker for the football team and a contributor on the baseball team.

If he signs with Anaheim, Cimorelli has said he will still kick for FSU and play professional baseball during the summer.

Pasco's Alex Cruz (27th round) signed with Pittsburgh on Friday.

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