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Brazelton enrolls at MTSU

If Dewon Brazelton, the No. 3 choice overall in June draft, starts classes Monday, Tampa Bay loses its rights to pitcher.

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 18, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- Dewon Brazelton figured he'd be pitching for a Rays farm team by now, preparing for a September call-up to the major leagues.

Instead, he's working out at home and preparing for a scenario he never expected, going back to class Monday at Middle Tennessee State.

Despite intermittent reports of progress, the Rays seemingly are not close to signing Brazelton, the No. 3 pick in the June draft.

He officially enrolled at MTSU on Friday, and if he walks into his 8 a.m. physiology class Monday, the Rays lose the rights to him and he goes back into the 2002 draft pool.

"I love MTSU, but I'd rather be in Tampa," Brazelton said Friday from Tennessee. "I feel that they're not doing what's right. It feels like they're smacking me in the face."

When the Rays drafted Brazelton on June 5, both sides predicted a quick negotiation, one that would not be influenced by what other players got or may get.

"I'm real disappointed; I thought I'd be signed by June 10," Brazelton said. "I just want to be treated fairly. ... I'm not trying to hold them up for a ransom. I'm not one of those guys. I just want to get what's fair, and they know it's not been fair."

The Rays are believed to have offered Brazelton a major-league contract worth about $4-million, but wanted to spread the payments out over six years. Scouting director Dan Jennings was unavailable for comment late Friday.

Neither Brazelton nor adviser Bo McKinnis would say what they are seeking.

Top pick Joe Mauer signed a $5.15-million, four-year deal with his hometown Twins, No. 2 pick Mark Prior reportedly is close to a five-year, $10-million deal with the Cubs and No. 5 pick Mark Teixeira seeks similar terms from Texas.

"This whole thing is frustrating," Brazelton said. "I'm a ballplayer, and I want to play ball. I don't like sitting here. They say they're going to do things and they don't."

McKinnis said Brazelton enrolled Friday to keep his options open. Brazelton said he plans to go to class Monday, but is hopeful something can be worked out with the Rays.

"Honestly, if they give me reason to believe this will get done, I'd be willing to delay things two or three days," Brazelton said. "But they haven't given me a reason to believe all summer."

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