NORMAN — Oklahoma quarterback signee Cody Thomas, who was selected in the 30th round of last week’s MLB Draft by the New York Yankees, won’t sign a professional contract, a source close to Thomas confirmed to The Oklahoman.
Thomas, a two-sport standout at Colleyville (Texas) Heritage High School, had been considered a top MLB prospect. Entering the draft, Baseball America ranked him as the draft’s 165th-best prospect, which would’ve placed him in the fifth round.
But Thomas’ desire to continue his football career made many teams leery of using a high draft pick on him.
Major League Baseball’s most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, which went into effect before the 2012 draft, creates less incentive for clubs to use picks in the first 10 rounds on players who aren’t virtual locks for signing.
Under the CBA, each slot in the draft’s first 10 rounds is assigned a value, and a club’s sum of those values creates its “Signing Bonus Pool.”
Clubs can sign players for more or less than the assigned value, but the total can’t exceed the pool amount. Players selected after the first 10 rounds don’t count against that pool unless they’re given a bonus larger than $100,000.
If a club doesn’t use its entire pool on picks in the first 10 rounds, it can use the excess on players drafted in lower rounds.
But if a club fails to sign one of its picks in the first 10 rounds, it loses that value in its pool. Players like Thomas — who shined on the football field and is certainly skilled enough to earn Oklahoma’s starting quarterback position one day — are now usually viewed as too risky for high selection.
Thomas, who plans to play both football and baseball at Oklahoma, moved to Norman last weekend, completed a physical and has begun classes and workouts, the source said.
He batted .482 with 15 home runs and 51 RBIs as a senior at Colleyville Heritage. Last fall, he threw for 3,407 yards, 38 touchdowns and only five interceptions.
MLB draftees have one month to sign professional contracts. Thomas won’t be eligible for the MLB Draft again until after his junior season.
Another reason Thomas’ decision wasn’t too difficult, the source said, was that his high-school girlfriend, Shaley Witt, made Oklahoma’s cheerleading squad.
Oklahoma baseball coach Sunny Golloway said in February that he expects Thomas to immediately contribute on his squad, which just wrapped up another 40-win season in an NCAA Super Regional loss at LSU.
On the gridiron, Thomas faces an uphill battle for immediate playing time. Junior Blake Bell, sophomore Kendal Thompson and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight competed throughout the spring for the Sooners’ vacant quarterback job.
Thomas said in a recent interview, though, that he plans to approach football practices like he’s the starter.
“Day one, I’m gonna prepare like I’m gonna be the starting quarterback,” Thomas said. “That’s how you have to treat it. If you don’t, you won’t ever reach it. So when I come in, that’s how I’ll act.”