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Marcus Stroman of Long Island signs deal with Toronto Blue Jays

Marcus Stroman is 5-2 with Double-A New Hampshire

Marcus Stroman is 5-2 with Double-A New Hampshire this season. Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan, 2012

Medford native Marcus Stroman on Tuesday signed a contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, the team that drafted him in the first round of last month's Major League Baseball draft.

After passing a physical in Dunedin, Fla., the pitcher inked a deal that includes a $1.8-million signing bonus.

"It's a weight lifted off me," said Stroman, 21, who starred at Patchoge-Medford High School and then Duke University. "All my hard work and everything my family has done, it's paying off. I'm excited to start my journey to the big leagues, but this is just a steppingstone and I have to keep working my way up."

Stroman's contract was about the equivalent of the slot value usually assigned to the 22nd overall pick.

"We're excited to have Marcus," Blue Jays assistant general manager Andrew Tinnish said. "We think he's a quality arm and a quality competitor. We've seen him get up to 98 [mph] on his fastball and he's got three other 'plus' pitches. We believe he can pitch in a variety of roles and, as far as makeup and athleticism, he's the exact type of player we wanted to add. We're looking forward to getting him started."

The righthander said he likely will begin his minor-league career with the Vancouver Canadians, the Blue Jays' Class A short-season affiliate.

"I've talked to people in pro-ball and they say it's a grind and you have to adjust, but I'm definitely ready for it," he said of playing in the minor leagues. "If everything goes well there, I could get moved up to Double-A pretty soon."

Tinnish, formerly the Blue Jays scouting director, told Newsday last month that it's within the realm of possibility that Stroman could make his major-league debut as soon as this September. "That would be amazing, and if anyone can do it, it's Marcus," said Stroman's mother, Adlin Auffant. "When he puts his mind to something, he just does it."

In addition to a four-seam fastball, Stroman's repertoire includes a slider, changeup and cutter. In his junior year at Duke, as a starting pitcher, he had a 2.39 ERA with 136 strikeouts in 98 innings.

Stroman was drafted in the 18th round by the Nationals in 2009, but chose instead to go to college. "I might treat myself to something, but I don't know what yet," he said after signing his contract. "Nothing too big, though."

His father, Earl Stroman, said he already has advised his son on becoming a frugal spender and saving his money. He'll earn about $1,100 per month in the minor leagues.

"I've told him to put that [signing bonus] away and act like he doesn't have it," Earl Stroman said. "He'll probably be living on rice and beans."

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