Ashland's Kendall plays waiting game

Ian Kendall has always been known for working fast on the mound.

Now that he's at the negotiation table, the former Ashland High pitcher is trying something new: the waiting game.

And he may just be getting warmed up.

Kendall, a right-handed pitcher drafted in the fifth round of last week's Major League Baseball first-year player draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, is planning on playing for the Medford Mustangs until his advisor, Lynn Thompson, can hash out a deal with the Rays. How long that takes is anybody's guess, but the deadline for players to sign is Aug. 16.

"We just haven't really come up with a deal yet," said Kendall, who struck out two batters and gave up one hit in an inning of relief Friday. "It's been good. Hopefully, they'll get to see me play a little more and we'll come to an agreement, then we'll see what happens."

Since monthly salaries for minor league ball players is pre-set and cannot be changed, up for negotiation is the size of Kendall's signing bonus. Major League Baseball recommends a dollar amount for each pick in the first five rounds and a maximum for all picks from the sixth round on. According to, the average signing bonus for a fifth-round draft pick in 2009 was $206,979, with the most lucrative deal going to Rays' selection Jeff Malm, a first baseman who signed a $680,000 contract.

Thompson, a local labor attorney, said she met with Rays' scout Paul Kirsch last weekend to begin negotiations.

"We've received an initial offer which is consistent with the slot that Ian was drafted in," Thompson said. "We're expecting that the process will take some period of time to work through."

Thompson declined to discuss the specifics of the Rays' offer, saying only that it was "six figures."

Unless he hires an agent, Kendall has the option of playing for Oregon State, where he has a scholarship offer, and re-entering the draft after his junior year. That option should give the hard-throwing six-footer some leverage in negotiations.

If Kendall does sign with the Rays, who inked seven of their 10 draft picks last year, a college fund will likely be part of the deal he eventually signs.

"You just want to make sure that he has choices if he doesn't go all the way," Thompson said. "That's my job, to make sure all those bases are covered."

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