The Washington Nationals tonight agreed to terms on a professional contract with right-handed pitcher A.J. Cole, the Nationals’ fourth-round selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.

Cole joins the Nationals after combining to go 12-1 and fanning 10.7 batters per 9.0 innings during his junior and senior seasons at Oviedo (FL) High School. Cole, who stands 6-foot-5, earned All-American status from both AFLAC and Under Armour in 2009.

Cole, 18, was rated by industry-insider Baseball America as the No. 16 overall player, the eighth-best pitcher, among 2010 Draft-eligible prospects. Among those draft eligible from Florida, BA ranked Cole third among high school players. Cole had previously committed to attend the University of Miami.

The deal is reported to be for $2 million, a record for a fourth round draft pick.

Cole was considered a first round talent but the 6'4'' right-hander with a fastball in the mid-90s fell to the fourth round, where the Nats' hoped they could get the 18-year-old to sign. He had previously committed to the University of Miami and was deemed a risky sign by many draft experts.

The deal has been rumored for several days, but since it was so high over slot for a fourth round pick it's not surprising that it would be announced so close to the signing deadline.

According to one scouting report:
With size, projectability and at least two outstanding pitches, Cole was at or near the top of prep pitching lists. His fastball already touches 94 mph as a high schooler, and there's lots of room for growth in his 6-foot-5 frame.

He adds a wipeout power slurve to put hitters away and even shows a feel for a changeup. There are some small concerns about his arm action, but his delivery overall is good and he has decent command. James Taillon might be the first high school arm to go off the board, but Cole won't be far behind.
Well, Tallion was drafted No. 2 overall by Pittsburgh and signed this evening.  The terms were undisclosed, but he was slotted at $3.25 million and probably went higher due to his high school status.  Cole, due to signability issues and his committment to Miami, fell all the way to the fourth round, where General Manger Mike Rizzo simply could no longer pass up the opportunity to talk him out of his committment.

And then there was one...