Bowman ready for draft

It shouldn't be the money, but for Carson High senior Willie Bowman, the reality is that's what it's all about.

Bowman is obviously concerned about the money. But he's more concerned about the long-term commitment that a Major League team will be willing to make. And the long-term commitment a team is willing to make is determined by the signing bonus it offers.

It appears that the magic number for Bowman is $100,000 as the Major League Baseball draft approaches on Monday and Tuesday. When a Major League team is willing to offer a player a $100,000 signing bonus, it's considered that club will at least give that player a chance to prove himself.

Other local players who could be drafted include Carson High graduate Joe Mercer and Fernley graduate Matt Lambeth.

Bowman has been told he could be drafted anywhere from the third to 10th rounds. Bowman hit .441 with 10 home runs and 57 RBI this past season for Carson. Bowman played shortstop at Carson, but his prospects are more likely at second or third base.

Monday should be a busy day for Bowman as he will be playing in the SportsLink All-American game in New Mexico. The game will be televised live at 6 p.m. by Fox Sports Net.

A third round draft choice should command a signing bonus of at least $500,000. Galena graduate Steve LeRud received a signing bonus of $512,500 after being drafted in the third round last year by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Those drafted high in the fifth round could receive a $200,000 signing bonus while those drafted lower in the fifth round could receive $150,000-$175,000. Tenth round draft choices normally receive $50,000-$60,000.

But if a player is projected to have been drafted higher, but for some reason falls to the 10th round, he could receive as much as $100,000.

"They are calling me to see if we're on the same page as far as what I will sign and where I will sign," said Bowman about Major League teams. "There's just a lot of anxiety right now to see what happens. It's really a complete crap shoot."

Bowman even if he's drafted as low as the 10th round, if he's given a signing bonus of at least $100,000, he would consider signing.

"It's just too good of an opportunity to pass up," Bowman said. "It's just a matter to get enough money so that they have an investment in you so you stick around a couple of years."

If Bowman is drafted in the first five rounds, he said it's virtually certain he would sign. "In the first five rounds, sign me up right on the spot for sure," he said.

Bowman, though, also said along with at least a $100,000 signing bonus, it would also take an offer to pay for his college that matches what he's been offered to play for UNLV for him to sign with a Major League team. Bowman signed with UNLV last fall.

While Bowman said he would be happy to play for UNLV for three years, he made it clear that he would prefer to begin playing professionally now. "I want to start developing more in the pros because that's the ultimate goal," he said.

Mercer is coming off a season the at the University of Nevada where he hit .313 with seven home runs and 43 RBI. The 2000 Carson graduate was named to the all-Western Athletic Conference second team. In 2001, Mercer was taken in the 30th round by the San Francisco Giants as a draft and follow prospect.

Mercer could be an attractive prospect because he's a left-handed hitting catcher with power who can also play third and first base. "I hope that's what they think," said Mercer about Major League teams.

But as a senior, Mercer doesn't have much bargaining power and he's had knee problems in the past, so Mercer doesn't run all that well.

"I have no idea," said Mercer on if his knee problems has affected his draftability. "They don't bother me anymore."

"I haven't heard anything, yet," Mercer also said about the draft. But even if Mercer isn't drafted, he still wants the chance to play. When asked if he's willing to sign as a free agent, Mercer said "absolutely."

Lambeth, a 2002 Fernley graduate, is coming off an outstanding sophomore year at Mesa Community College in Arizona, which competes in a wood bat league. Mesa recently advanced to the NJCAA World Series where it was eliminated in two games.

Lambeth, an outfielder, went 3-for-8 in the two games to finish the year with a .380 average, 82 hits and five home runs. Last year, Lambeth was taken as a draft and follow prospect by the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Phillies, though, have made no attempt to sign him, meaning he's eligible for next week's draft. "They didn't say anything," Lambeth said. "They didn't offer me anything."

As far as next week's draft, Lambeth said, "I haven't heard anything from anybody." Lambeth has signed with Division I Lamar in Texas. He said he's been told he could be taken as a draft and follow prospect again to see how he develops next year at Lamar.

Contact Charles Whisnand at cwhisnand@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1214.

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