Reds reach agreements with two top Draft picks

Reds reach agreements with two top Draft picks

SAN DIEGO -- The Reds have agreed to terms with two 2014 Draft picks, including top first-round selection Nick Howard, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Virginia.

A deal was also completed with Cincinnati's second-round Draft pick, UC Irvine infielder Taylor Sparks.'s Jim Callis reported that Howard agreed to a $1,990,500 bonus, which is $100,000 below slot value, while Sparks will receive $972,800.

The signings have not been announced by the Reds.

Howard, 21, was Virginia's closer and a utility infielder, but will be developed as a starting pitcher by the Reds. He was ranked the No. 31 Draft prospect by and has a fastball range of 95-98 mph.

In 31 games this season, Howard had a 1.91 ERA and 20 saves with 14 walks and 60 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings as his school reached the finals of the College World Series.

Ranked No. 56 among Draft prospects by, Sparks batted .308/.389/.506 with five home runs and 37 RBIs in 66 games as the Anteaters reached the College World Series.

With the Howard and Sparks deals completed, the Reds have agreed to terms with each of their first 18 Draft picks this year.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.