Jays bust out chequebook

BOB ELLIOTT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

Kevin Ahrens is a rich man.

The Blue Jays have given their 18-year-old first selection a $1.44-million US signing bonus.

Ahrens, a Houston high school shortstop who likely will play third, was chosen 16th overall in North America in the June draft of high schoolers and collegians.

"They got a good one in this kid, we really liked him, he was outstanding at our work out," said a rival scouting director who picked after the Jays and was set to select the switch-hitting Ahrens. "That Chipper Jones comparison to Ahrens that is going around? I saw Chipper as a high schooler and I'd say it's accurate."

In addition to his signing bonus, Ahrens was given a $64,000 schooling package to forego his scholarship at Texas A and M.

Meanwhile, scouting director Jon Lalonde handed out a $1.3275-million bonus to the Jays' other first-round pick, Tennessee Volunteers catcher J.P. Arencibia, who was selected 21st overall. He also got $60,000 for schooling.

The Ahrens bonus ranks 10th in history among Jays prospects. Lefty Ricky Romero, the first-round pick in 2005, ranks first at $2.4 million. Romero is nursing a sore shoulder after going 0-1 with a 4.42 earned-run average in four starts at double-A New Hampshire.

The Jays gave Maryland Terrapins lefty Brett Cecil, a sandwich pick this year, $810,000 to sign. Two second-round picks and their bonuses: Middle infielder John Tolisano of Estero, Fla., $391,000; Houston outfielder Eric Eiland $391,000.

The Jays have yet to sign two other sandwich picks: Asheville, N.C., shortstop Justin Jackson and Louisville University Redbirds closer Trystan Magnuson, a Vancouver native.

JAYS' TOP SIGNING BONUSES

POS PLAYER YEAR BONUS

LHP Ricky Romero 2005 $2.4 M

SS Felipe Lopez 1998 $2 M

OF Gabe Gross 2001 $1.865 M

SS Russ Adams 2002 $1.785 M

OF Travis Snider 2006 $1.7 M

SS Aaron Hill 2003 $1.675 M

OF Vernon Wells 1997 $1.6 M

LHP David Purcey 2004 $1.6 M

RHP Billy Koch 1996 $1.45 M

SS Kevin Ahrens 2007 $1.44 M

C J.P. Arencibia 2007 $1.3275 M

3B Balbino Fuenmayor 2006 $1.15 M

LHP Zach Jackson 2004 $1.017 M

RHP Roy Halladay 1995 $975,000

OF Miguel Negron 2000 $950,000

RHP Dustin McGowan 2000 $950,000

SS Joe Lawrence 1996 $907,500

3B Alex Rios 1999 $845,000

LHP Brett Cecil 2007 $810,000

C Guillermo Quiroz 1998 $800,000

RHP Peter Bauer 1998 $800,000


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