OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -Now that James Simmons' is signed, the Oakland Athletics are sending their top draft pick straight to Double-A Midland.
The right-hander, selected 26th overall out of UC Riverside earlier this month, agreed to a minor league deal Tuesday that includes a signing bonus of $1,192,500. He will be invited to spring training next year.
``They're taking a chance,'' Simmons said. ``I've got to show them they're doing the right thing. It's great. Not many guys go from college to Double-A. I'm very privileged.''
The A's also agreed to terms with outfielder Corey Brown - a compensation pick out of Oklahoma State - and outfielder Raymond Rodriguez, a 24th-round choice from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.
Simmons was in uniform and threw a bullpen session before the A's played the Cincinnati Reds, with his parents, Don and Vicki, capturing it with pictures and video. Later this week, Simmons and his dad will start the 18-hour drive from their home in Southern California to Texas to report to the Midland club.
``I've never been here. It's definitely exciting,'' Simmons said. ``I got to go in the locker room and meet a couple of guys. That kind of takes your breath away.''
Simmons pitched 123 2-3 innings this season for Riverside, so the A's plan to use him out of the bullpen initially in the minors and carefully monitor how much he pitches to protect his arm.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Simmons is a control pitcher who went 11-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 17 starts in his final college season. He struck out 116 batters and walked only 15 while allowing a .220 opponent batting average. His ERA was lowest in the Big West Conference and his strikeouts ranked second.
He plans to use this summer to work on developing his off-speed pitches.

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