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Malm reaches agreement with Rays

Former Bishop Gorman High School first baseman/pitcher Jeff Malm agreed Thursday in principle on a contract with the Tampa Bay Rays, who selected him in the fifth round of June’s draft.

Malm said the Rays have turned the deal into the commissioner’s office and are waiting for approval before he can sign it, which could happen as soon as Friday. The deadline to sign is Monday.

“I’m definitely excited,” said Malm, who opted to go professional rather than fulfill his college commitment to Southern California. “It’s always been my dream to play professional baseball.”

Malm, the No. 169 overall pick in the draft, declined to comment on the years or money involved in the deal, figures he said should be announced Monday.

A phone message left for Malm’s representation, the Wasserman Media Group, was not returned.

According to Baseball America, the No. 168 pick in the draft, the Red Sox’s Seth Schwindenhammer, received a signing bonus of $140,000. The No. 170 pick, the Cubs’ Wes Darvill, got $142,200.

Malm, who took a physical examination Thursday in St. Petersburg, Fla., said he’ll probably join the Single-A Charlotte Stone Crabs in Port Charlotte, Fla., for the final two weeks of the season.

The Rays view him as a first baseman.

“They said my pitching days are over,” Malm said.

He said the decision to join the Rays organization or head to USC was close.

“It’s my future, and (USC) was a place I wanted to be,” he said. “But professional baseball, I wanted it to be part of my life. I felt I was ready to take the next step.”

The decision means Malm, the Louisville Slugger National Player of the Year, will not play with Gorman’s American Legion team in the World Series, which begins Friday in Fargo, N.D.

Malm hit .421 in 39 games this summer to help Gorman, playing as the Southern Nevada Titans, to a Western Regional title. The 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pound left-hander also served recently as the team’s closer.

“It’s a little bittersweet I had to leave the Titans the night before the World Series, but they’ve won without me before,” Malm said. “And I’ll be rooting for them.”

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