Tom Robson is now officially a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.
The 18-year-old pitcher from Ladner, who was the top Canadian selected in June's Major League Draft, agreed to terms last week and has since reported to the club's training facility in Dunedin, Florida.
Robson was eligible to sign as soon as he was drafted but the negotiation process dragged right up to the Aug. 15th deadline for players with college eligibility. That led to Robson seeing only limited action in a relief role for the national junior team and with the Langley Blaze of the B.C. Premier Baseball League.
"We anticipated, based on discussions with Tom's advisor (Jim Lindell), it would go right up to (Aug. 15) and true enough it did," said Howard Robson, Tom's father. "Ultimately, Tom is happy for the opportunity to play for Toronto."
Robson received a signing bonus of $325,000 which is well above his slot value ($189,000) as a third round draft pick but the hope was Toronto would be willing to put more money on the table.
Typically, MLB teams have to pay significantly above the bonus slot to entice a college eligible player to walk away from a scholarship opportunity. The recent Delta secondary school graduate had already committed to Arizona Community College, considered the top junior college program in the U.S.
The Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres were the three teams that showed the most interest in Robson prior to the draft.
The Red Sox indicated they wanted to select him with a later round pick but would offer a substantial signing bonus. With that number in mind, Robson's advisor and family hoped the Blue Jays would come close to matching Boston's potential dollar figures. In the end, Robson elected for the hometown discount to sign with a team he grew up watching.
"If it was any other team, Tom wouldn't have signed (for that money)," added Howard Robson. "He was actually only crossing the 't's and dotting the 'i's away from going to college. "But going that route doesn't guarantee anything and we have seen where it can actually hurt a player's value. In the end, he gets to play for a team grew up idolizing for the sake of making a little more money.
"Given his experience with the national junior team and where he has played, he not just a typical high school pitcher and I have little doubt he will thrive in the environment he is going into."
Robson has done limited bullpen throwing in Dunedin and could be staying put to participate in Fall Instructional League which begins next month. Another option is pitching for the national junior team at the Americas World Junior Qualifier in Columbia.