Mills, Tribe quickly come to terms
First-round pick to begin career at Class A Mahoning Valley
CLEVELAND -- John Mirabelli hinted last week that the Indians could be in for some rough negotiations with their first-round pick.
But then, the Tribe's scouting director got to talking with Beau Mills, the 2007 First-Year Player Draft's No. 13 overall pick. And Mirabelli's outlook quickly shifted.
This was a kid who wanted to play -- no matter what.
"He was unique," Mirabelli said. "It was a breath of fresh air."
It wasn't just talk, either. The Indians signed Mills to a Minor League contract on Friday, making the future first baseman the highest draftee to come to terms on a deal, just eight days following the June 7 Draft.
"My thing is I want to play baseball," Mills said. "My goal is to not make more money in the Draft. It's to make more money in the big leagues."
Mills, coming off a record-setting junior season at Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho, will now report on Saturday to short-season Class A Mahoning Valley, where he'll be given a crash course in playing first base.
The 20-year-old left-hander, who manned the hot corner in college, has never played an inning at first base. But without a top-notch throwing arm, it's where the Tribe's higher-ups project him down the line.
"I know that sometime in his career, first base will be part of the package," Mirabelli said. "Our thought process is get him out there initially. He's got to get comfortable there."
Mills won't be thrown right into the flames. He'll participate at Mahoning Valley's preseason camp, and then open up the Scrappers' season on Tuesday as the club's designated hitter. But after he gets a few games to feel comfortable, first base will be Mills'.
And so, too, will a spot on Class A Lake County's roster. Mirabelli guessed that Mills would move to Lake County about a week into his stint with the Scrappers.
Will that be too fast for Mills, especially at a new position? Nope.
"Baseball comes naturally to me," Mills said. "They're going to work me hard. I think I'm going to pick it up quicker than most expect."
It's certainly hard to doubt him when looking at what he accomplished in college.
In his junior year at Lewis-Clark, Mills set an NAIA single-season record with 38 homers and helped the Warriors defend their NAIA national title. Mills hit .458 with 100 runs scored and 123 RBIs in 62 games, and he was the NAIA Player of the Year and World Series MVP.
Mills spent just one season at Lewis-Clark after playing his first two years of college ball at Fresno State. He is the son of Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills, a former infielder for the Montreal Expos.
Mills is also spot-on look-alike of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, though he someday hopes to be known for his bat a little, too.
"I get that a lot," Mills said with a laugh. "Hopefully, everybody will recognize me for my face pretty soon."
David Briggs is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.