Friday, June 11, 2010

Cherokee County Herald Article on Blanchard

Here is an article by the Cherokee County Herald on JSU football signee and draft pick of the Orioles, Coty Blanchard:

After being drafted by Major League Baseball's Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, former Cherokee County shortstop Coty Blanchard said he's contemplating signing a $500,000 contract or remaining a two-sport athlete at Jacksonville State University.
slideshow Coty Blanchard thought it was just another of his dad Fran’s practical jokes.

There he was, sitting in a quarterbacks meeting at Jacksonville State University on Wednesday afternoon when he got a text message on his phone from his mother, Tara. It simply said that Coty was an Oriole.

When Coty left the meeting, he called Fran to ask him if the message was true.

“He said ‘Yeah, man, it’s true,’ and he offered me his congratulations,” Coty said. “I felt like he was playing with me, but I kept talking with him and he said ‘No, I’m serious. It’s the real deal.’ I didn’t know what to think. I was just so excited. That’s just a great feeling.”

A $500,000 feeling, to be exact.

That’s the price of the contract the Blanchards quoted to all Major League Baseball teams interested in the former Cherokee County shortstop’s services in the MLB first-year player draft, held Monday through Wednesday. In addition to the Baltimore Orioles, Fran – Coty’s contract negotiator – said other serious contenders for Coty’s rights included the Boston Red Sox, the Chicago Cubs, the Oakland A’s and the Kansas City Royals.

Ultimately, those teams passed on the 6-foot, 180-pound shortstop, but he fell into the Orioles’ lap with the 1,228th pick in the 41st round.

“Words can’t explain how excited I am for him, and how proud I am that he gets this opportunity to go and continue his baseball career at this level, especially as young as he is,” Cherokee County baseball coach Jim Garmany said. “I see great things happening for Coty in the next few years.”

Coty was projected by some scouts as high as a fifth-round selection, but he said it didn’t bother him he slid into the draft’s final few rounds on Wednesday.

“A round was just not that big of a deal,” Coty said. “It’s so easy to get caught up in stuff like that, but it really doesn’t matter as long as you get drafted.

“Dad really thought he overpriced me, and that’s what he wanted to do. We said $500,000 and nothing below that. People were calling and saying ‘We’ll pay you $225,000.’ That was like in the fifth round, but dad was like ‘No, we’re not going to do that.’ We just held out, and the Orioles finally come along and offered us. It was pretty sweet.”

Fran said he’d gotten advice on how to handle his son’s contract negotiations from Brian Stovall. Stovall is the father of former Hokes Bluff standout and 2008 Atlanta Braves second-round draft pick Tyler Stovall.

“That guy has been my saving grace. I’ve been on the phone with him so many times,” Fran said. “He said ‘It’s like a Christmas present. You don’t know what’s in it until you get it, but just savor the moment.’ That’s kind of what I done.

“I might have been too stern with these guys, but when you’re dealing for your son, you really want what’s best. Evidently I was realistic with them, because Coty got the money that he deserves in my mind. Everybody reading the paper may think ‘He’s crazy. He’ll never make it,’ but the Orioles think he can. All those other guys who called me thought he could make it too, but I guess the Orioles wanted him the most.”

In addition to selecting Coty, the Orioles also picked up six other shortstops with their selections, including No. 3 overall pick Manny Machado from Brito Miami (Fla.) Private School.

The question of selecting so many shortstops came up in a conversation Fran had with Oriole draft representative David Jennings on Wednesday, before Baltimore picked Coty.

“When he called, I told him ‘I saw where you took a lot of shortstops,’” Fran said. “He (Jennings) said ‘We did, but we took those guys to move them. We have two shortstops in mind that we feel can play for us when it gets to the big time.’ It was the guy they took in the first round (Machado) and Coty. He said Coty will get every opportunity to win the job, and I was like ‘OK. I’m good.’ He was extremely honest with me.”

Fran said Jennings gave him a clue that the Orioles were seriously considering selecting Coty on Sunday.

“When I told him we set up a structure (contract), he said ‘Will you come for this money?’ I said ‘Yes sir, Coty said he would,’ and he said ‘You’ve made me a very happy man.’ I was like wow, this call comes out of the blue and I thought Coty may be an Oriole. This guy really wants him.”

Now that Coty has a baseball contract waiting to be signed, a tough decision has to be made by the 18-year-old. Does he follow his dream of playing in the majors, or does he stay on track at JSU – Fran’s alma mater – and become a two-sport standout?

If Coty decides not to sign the contract – a five-year deal – he would still be eligible as a future draft choice. However, he’s not guaranteed of getting drafted by another club again.

“It’s going to be a tough decision,” Coty said. “It’s like choosing a college all over again, except it’s a lot harder. It’s like it’s multiplied by 1000. This is a job we’re talking about, a career.”

Whatever decision his son makes, Fran said he’ll have his family’s support.

“I said ‘Coty, if you’re going to do this, you’re not doing this to take this money up front. It’s because you are bound and determined you can get to the big leagues. Don’t make this decision if that’s not what you want to be, a professional baseball player,’” Fran said. “It’s so hard to get there, and he’s going to have to work harder than he’s ever worked.”

Coty said he’s going to take the weekend to weigh his options. His contract with Baltimore doesn’t have to be signed until June 15.

“I’m going to write down all the pros and cons with my family, just see what’s best for me, and just figure this out,” he said. “This weekend, I’m sure I’ll know which way I want to go.”

Coty said he’s talked with several of his JSU football coaches, including head coach Jack Crowe. He said he hasn’t had the chance to talk with JSU baseball coach Jim Case yet, but has plans to do so.

Coty said the football coaches told him no matter what his decision is, they’re behind him.

“They’ve been great about it,” Coty said. “They’ve told me no decision is a bad decision, to go with whatever I want to, and they’ll back me up no matter what. I had a meeting with Coach Crowe in his office (Wednesday), and we talked about 10 minutes with dad on the speaker phone. Everything’s been good, and everybody’s real excited for me.”


  1. It's not clear if the $500K is a signing bonus, or the pay over a 5 year period. If it's a signng bonus, that's great. A higher draft pick 3 years from now would get a signing bonus of way more than $500K. Just depends on the structure of the payment. Would be great to stay in school, then still get a huge signing bonus in 3 years.

  2. They'll say anything to sign you. The Orioles already have who they have labeled "our shortstop of the future" from last year's draft - a guy named Mychal Givens, who they paid $800,000 as a signing bonus.

  3. I'm afraid they are not being 100% honest with him, and by the time he figures it out, it will be too late. Playing college ball now doesn't exclude going pro later. Going pro now does exclude playing college later.