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Ranking the toughest players to sign

Updated: June 23, 2011, 1:12 PM ET
By Jason A. Churchill

The Tampa Bay Rays had 60 selections in this year's draft, and despite the fact they are far from big spenders, they have inked 28 of those selections already, including one of their three first-rounds picks and three of their seven sandwich rounders.

Negotiations with prep right-hander Taylor Guerrieri (No. 24) and centerfielder Mikie Mahtook (No. 31) out of LSU, the club's top two selections, are likely to last into August, but they did get Jake Hager's name on the dotted line.

Hager, a shortstop out of Sierra Vista High School in Las Vegas, draws comparisons to Marcus Littlewood, who was taken in the second round by Seattle a year ago. "He loves the game," an NL scout said about Hager." He plays like it and brings a lot of reliable athleticism to the field. I'd bet on this kid making it to the big leagues."

Hager, based on pure talent and overall value, probably is an overdraft at No. 32 overall, but there's some upside in his game and his intangibles make him a solid acquisition.

The Houston Astros have inked 28 of their 50 picks, including second-round pick Adrian Houser, a right-handed pitcher out of Locust Grover High School in Oklahoma, and the Atlanta Braves have signed each of their first five picks with the exception of first-rounder Sean Gilmartin, a left-handed starter from Florida State. He could see the big leagues within two seasons, and is critical to the club's draft class since they didn't select many high-upside talents.

Along with Hager, other first-round picks who have signed include No. 10 overall pick Cory Spangenberg, who got a signging bonus of a little more than $1.8 million from the San Diego Padres. San Diego also inked one of its three sandwich-round picks, shortstop Jace Peterson. Joe Panik, a shortstop from St. John's, signed with the San Francisco Giants as the No. 29 pick.

There were reports Wednesday that the St. Louis Cardinals had reached an agreement with No. 22 pick Kolten Wong, but the second baseman from Hawaii remains unsigned, according to GM John Mozeliak.

So far there has yet to be an above-slot signing high in the draft, but the majority of those deals will not go down until the August 15 deadline nears. When I polled a dozen high-ranking officials asking which player they believe will be the toughest sign among the top 33 picks, here were the results:

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