SWANNANOA – The Chicago Cubs wanted Bailey Clark, and they wanted him bad.
Clark signed his first professional baseball contract Friday in Mesa, Ariz., and received a bonus of $450,000.
Major League Baseball recommends a signing bonus or slot value for every pick in the draft. Teams will sometimes exceed that amount to entice their picks to sign instead of returning to college.
Clark (fifth round, 164th pick) was slotted to get $321,800. He was a rising senior at Duke University.
“It’s nice that someone believed in me as much as the Cubs did. It is over slot, and that’s great,” Clark said.
“It’s weird. I keep telling my parents that I’m going to work today, and it’s as a (full-time baseball player). It’s cool. It’s a different feeling.”
Clark is a 21-year-old, right-handed pitcher who graduated from Asheville Christian Academy in 2013.
Clark had a combined 4.31 earned-run average and 120 strikeouts in 121 innings over the course of his college career. He was part of last summer’s USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.
Clark was an All-Carolinas Athletic Association and Citizen-Times All-WNC selection as a high school senior.
The Cubs have Single-A affiliates in the Knoxville (Tenn.) area and Myrtle Beach (S.C.).
When you count it all up, baseball has been a very-rewarding sport for seven Buncombe County players who have signed with MLB teams for six figures or more since 2000. The grand total of their signing bonuses is roughly $6.9 million.
Along with Clark, those players are (in descending order of their bonuses) 2005 Roberson grad Cameron Maybin (Detroit, 10th overall pick, $2.65 million), 2014 Roberson grad Braxton Davidson (Atlanta, 32nd overall pick, $1.7 million), 2015 IMG Academy (Fla.) graduate and Fletcher resident Logan Allen (Boston, 231st overall pick, $725,000), 2000 Roberson grad Chris Narveson (St. Louis, 53rd overall pick, $675,000), 2007 Roberson grad Justin Jackson (Toronto, 45th overall pick, $675,000) and 2007 Reynolds grad Sam Runion (Kansas City, 66th overall pick, $504,000).
Maybin’s signing bonus is an all-time record for Western North Carolina baseball players. He is the only current local player active at the MLB level as an outfielder for the Tigers.