Ian Anderson, the No. 3 overall pick in last month's draft, signed with the Braves on Saturday, two days after graduating from high school. (Video by David O'Brien)

Braves sign top draft pick Anderson for $4 million

Ian Anderson knew he was going to sign with the Braves when they made him the No. 3 overall pick in the June 9 draft, but the waiting and anticipating made it that much more exciting before he could finally put pen to contract and get his career started.

Because his high school in upstate New York was in session later than most, Anderson had to wait two weeks until his Thursday graduation before he could officially sign. He came with his parents to Atlanta on signed his contract Saturday. Next stop: Orlando and the Gulf Coast rookie league, which just started play.

“Just knowing I was going to have to wait until after I graduated, it kind of made this more exciting,” he said, sitting in the Braves dugout on a steamy hot Saturday afternoon. “It’s been kind of building a little bit.”

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With many of the Braves’ top picks already signed and working out together in Florida since the week after the draft, Anderson, who turned 18 in June, didn’t mind at all going straight from graduation to work.

“I was definitely anxious to walk across the stage and get down here and get things going,” said Anderson, who signed for $4 million, about $2.5 million below the suggested slot value of $6,510,800. “Just knowing they (other signees) might be getting a little bit of a head start, I’m happy to go down.”

Some draft experts had all three of the Braves’ first picks, Anderson and high school lefties Joey Wentz (No. 40 pick) and Gatorade national player of the year Joey Muller (No. 44), ranked among the top 20 overall prospects, with Anderson rated as high as seventh by ESPN’s Keith Law.

The Braves took him sooner than mock drafts had projected Anderson would go, part of their plan to sign Anderson to below-slot value and use the extra funds permitted in their slot pool to sign Wentz ($3.05 million) and Muller ($2.5 million) to higher bonuses than their slot values.

“When this opportunity came up (No. 3) it was definitely kind of hard to pass up,” said Anderson, who didn’t hesitate in making his decision to sign.

As for his part in the Braves’ plan that enabled them to sign three top-20 caliber prospects, Anderson said, “Any time you can get three prep pitchers in the first three picks, it’s pretty impressive. And to do anything I could to help that out and still have a chance to sign for (the amount he received)…that’s huge.”

The amount the Braves spent over slot for Wentz and Muller works out to roughly the same amount they paid under slot for Anderson. That’s important because it allows the Braves to sign all of their picks from the first 10 rounds without exceeding their total allocated slot pool by more than 5 percent, in which case they would lose a future first-round draft pick and pay a 75-percent tax on the amount over the pool.

Picks made after the first 10 rounds count against the pool only if the bonuses exceeed $100,000.

The Braves have signed all of their top 10 draft picks and 27 of their first 32.

Anderson, who’s 6 feet 3 and 175 pounds, features a low-90s fastball that can he can crank up to 95-96 mph, an outstanding changeup and a good curveball. He was teammates briefly with Wentz and Muller at last summer’s Tournament of Stars in conjunction with USA Baseball.

“They’re imposing,” Anderson said. “They’re both, like, 6-5, 220. They’re great kids, great pitchers, and I’m looking forward to kind of bonding with them and hopefully coming up with them together.”

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