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2015 MLB Draft: Dodgers take SDSU-bound RHP Imani Abdullah in 11th round

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Imani Abdullah struck out 114 batters in 78 1/3 innings during his senior season.
Imani Abdullah struck out 114 batters in 78 1/3 innings during his senior season.
Photo: Madison High School

LOS ANGELES -- After taking seven college pitchers in their first 12 picks in the first two days of the MLB Draft, the Dodgers began Wednesday's final day by taking high school right-hander Imani Abdullah in the 11th round, with pick No. 342 overall.

Abdullah had a 0.45 ERA in his senior season at Madison High School in San Diego, with 114 strikeouts in 78⅓ innings.

The 6'5, 200-pound right-hander was clocked at 94 mph in May in a win over Point Loma, impressing the opposing coach, former major league pitcher David Wells.

"That kid threw a tremendous game," Wells said, per Scott Hopkins of SDNews.com.

Abdullah was an outfielder until his junior season in high school, and the lack of relative mileage on his arm makes him an attractive get. He was described as regularly hitting 92 mph in April by Dan Norcross of the San Diego Union-Tribune:

"I can teach somebody to throw harder," says Madison pitching coach Nick Furlong, who has helped more than 25 pitchers get drafted or play in college. "But you can’t teach (92 mph). You just can’t. It’s something he was born with."

Adbullah was not rated in the Baseball America top 500 draft prospects, but was rated their No. 74 prospect in California (the No. 66 prospect in California was Dodgers' fifth-round pick Brendon Davis, rated No. 496 nationally).

Abdullah signed a letter of intent to attend San Diego State.

"Imani has barely scratched the surface of his potential," SDSU coach Mark Martinez said of Abdullah in November. "He made a name for himself this summer and performed well at some major events. He is a local kid that we are excited to keep close to home and watch him develop in our program. He is an intelligent kid that gets better each time we see him pitch."

The commitment to college gives Abdullah leverage, and will likely eat into the Dodgers' bonus pool to sign. For any picks after the 10th round, any signing bonus amount above $100,000 gets added to the team's total bonus money spent (for instance, the Dodgers paid 2013 11th-round pick Spencer Navin a $300,000 bonus; $200,000 counted toward the bonus pool).

The Dodgers' bonus pool is $7,781,700, the total allotted slot amounts for their 12 picks in the first 10 rounds. The team can spend just up to five percent over without losing a draft pick, giving them an extra $389,084 to play with. The only penalty for that overage is a 75-percent tax, though if the team does reach five percent over they would lose their first-round draft pick in 2016.

The first three picks by the Dodgers were all projected to go higher than the Dodgers picked them, suggesting they might take above their slotted amounts to sign. But the Dodgers will likely save money on their eighth, ninth and 10th-round picks, all college seniors, and possibly Jeff Sborz (competitive balance pick B) and Jeff Pfeifer (another senior, third round) as well.

Abdullah's demands in April were said to be near the $600,000 range, while Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reported Wednesday the right-hander originally wanted upwards of $800,000.

Dodgers scouting director Billy Gasparino called Abdullah "a priority sign," per Gurnick, and it sounds like the right-hander is willing to join, thanks to a call from an ownership partner. From Gurnick:

"I think I'll take the opportunity to go pro," said Abdullah, "especially when someone like Magic Johnson tells you that you have a bright future. That's pretty darn convincing."