3:15pm: Agent David Sloane of Taurus Sports tells MLBTR that Sheffield has agreed to terms at $1.6MM plus the value of a $250K scholarship with Vanderbilt. Sheffield’s deal is technically under slot, but the additional value of the scholarship money and the fact that the bonus is to be paid up front takes the value of the deal over the slot value while allowing Cleveland to allot roughly $133K to other picks later in the draft.
10:45am: Zach Birdsong of Sheffield’s hometown Tullahoma News tweeted late last night that a “source close to the deal” informed him that Sheffield has neither signed nor agreed to anything. Sheffield himself retweeted Birdsong shortly thereafter, suggesting that there likely isn’t an agreement in place just yet.
12:29am: The Indians and first-round pick Justus Sheffield have agreed to a $1.6MM bonus plus eight semesters worth of tuition to Vanderbilt, reports Jim Callis of MLB.com (on Twitter). The No. 31 overall draft slot carried a value of $1.733MM, meaning Sheffield signed a bit under slot. Cleveland received the No. 31 overall selection as compensation for losing right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez to the Orioles via free agency. Including college tuition as a fallback isn’t uncommon among high school draft signings, though it isn’t always reported, either. That money does not count against the team’s bonus pool.
Sheffield, a high school left-hander out of Tennessee, ranked 21st among draft prospects according to ESPN’s Keith Law, 39th according to Callis and colleague Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com and 49th according to Baseball America.
Callis and Mayo feel that Sheffield has the chance to develop three plus pitches. His heater already sits 89 to 92 mph and touches 94, and he also features a mid-70s curveball and changeup, both of which the MLB.com duo refers to as advanced for high school. Law feels that Sheffield’s fourth pitch, a slider in the 82-84 mph range, also has a chance to be plus and can already miss bats. BA called him a strike-thrower with a four-pitch mix and a chance for average or better command. All three scouting reports praised his athleticism.