Aug. 17, 1997
Notre Dame Baseball Signee Michael Restovich Signs with Minnesota Twins
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The Minnesota Twins ended summer-long negotiations with their second-round draft choice Michael Restovich (Rochester, Minn.) by signing the Mayo High School graduate to a professional contract on August 15, making Restovich the second Notre Dame signee to sign with professional baseball during the past two months.
Restovich, whose father George and brother George, Jr. both played baseball at Notre Dame, is the highest in-state draft pick in the history of the Twins franchise. Restovich was one of seven high school players, four of whom are position players, to sign national letters of intent with Notre Dame. Another of those position players, catcher Camron Hahn (Louisville, Ky.), signed with the Houston Astros on June 20 after being selected in the second round with the 68th overall pick of the 1997 amateur draft.
"This is something that all college baseball coaches hate to see happen--you work so hard to sign a top-10 recruiting class and then see a good portion of that hard work lost to the professional draft and the power of money, " said fourth-year Notre Dame head coach Paul Mainieri, who has lost four recruits and three other draft-eligible players to professional baseball before they completed their eligibility at Notre Dame.
"Anytime you lose half of your incoming position players, it's tough, but we will rebound from this and play with the players who want to be at Notre Dame and pursue their education," added Mainieri, whose squad is set to return seven of nine starting position players and 11 pitchers from a 1997 team that went 41-19. "There is no question that we will face a greater challenge without having two of the top recruited players in the country attending Notre Dame but all the players in the program will have to rally together and make up for the loss of these two outstanding talents."
Hahn and Restovich would have been logical replacements in the Irish batting order for the program's two graduated position players: all-conference outfielder Randall Brooks and all-region catcher Mike Amrhein.
Restovich was the 61st overall selection in the 1997 draft, which included 24 "sandwich" compensation picks between the first and second rounds. The Twins drafted two players prior to Restovich but have yet to sign those top two picks: shortstop Michael Cuddyer (first round) and catcher Matt LeCroy (compensation pick). Cuddyer previously signed a national letter of intent to attend Florida State while LeCroy has the option of returning to Clemson for his senior year if he does not sign with the Twins.
The Irish were just 11 days away from seeing Restovich join the program for at least the next three years. Players who are drafted after graduating from high school may sign a professional contract up to the point where they attend their first college class (classes begin at Notre Dame on Aug. 26). After that time, such players are not eligible to sign with a professional team until after their junior year or 21st birthday (whichever comes first), at which time such players re-enter the draft (the original drafting team holds no rights if the player does not sign).
In addition to Hahn and Restovich, the Notre Dame baseball program also has lost recent signees Ryan Dempster and A.J. Zapp to professional baseball. Dempster, a righthanded pitcher, was a second-round pick of the Texas Rangers in 1995 (he since has been traded to the Florida Marlins organization). Zapp signed with the Atlanta Braves organization in 1996, after being drafted in the first round.
Outfielder Ryan Topham bypassed his senior year at Notre Dame after being selected by the Chicago White Sox in the fourth round of the 1995 draft. In 1996, sophomore righthanded pitcher Christian Parker and junior center fielder Scott Sollmann also signed with professional baseball. Parker, who turned 21 during the summer of '96, signed with the Montreal Expos after being drafted in the fourth round while Sollmann signed with the Detroit Tigers, who drafted him in the seventh round.
The Associated Press has reported that "Restovich's contract includes a signing bonus believed to be the highest in team history for a second-round pick." The A.P. story also states that Restovich "accepted a signing bonus worth well over $500,000 and perhaps as much as $650,000" in addition to "$100,000 for school."
The A.P. also reported that Restovich will report next month to the Twins' fall instructional league in Fort Meyers, Florida. He has been assigned to the rookie-league Elizabethtown (Tenn.) Twins for the 1998 season.