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Thursday, October 3
Indians expect 23-year-old Guthrie to advance quickly

Assocaited Press

CLEVELAND -- The Indians signed former pitcher Jeremy Guthrie on Thursday, their first-round pick in the June draft.

Guthrie agreed to a four-year contract with an option year after the Indians unsuccessfully tried to sign him all summer. He was the No. 22 overall pick out of Stanford.

Guthrie passed on signing with the New York Mets after high school so he could go on a two-year Mormon mission to Spain.

He decided against a professional career again when he returned from the mission and attended Stanford.

But the 23-year-old right-hander decided not to pass on the Indians after they gave him a $4 million deal.

``This is probably the first year I made a decision that other people supported,'' Guthrie said.

Guthrie could have re-enrolled at Stanford last week. If he had elected to go to school, the Indians would have lost their rights to negotiate with him.

He said he has no timetable on when he wants to reach the big leagues.

``My goal is simply to go out there and learn and continue to progress,'' Guthrie said.

The Indians don't expect him to stay in the minor leagues for long.

Guthrie is expected to start the 2003 season at Double-A Akron, said John Farrell, the team's director of player development.

Indians general manager Mark Shapiro thinks Guthrie has a chance to crack Cleveland's rotation in 2004.

``He's an advanced pitcher as far as repeating his delivery,'' Farrell said.

Guthrie leaves Friday for the Indians' instructional league in Winter Haven, Fla., then will play in the Arizona Fall League and attend the club's winter development program in Cleveland.

He was the Pac-10 Conference pitcher of the year last season, going 13-2 with a 2.51 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 157 2/3 innings.

The Indians are counting on Guthrie to be part of their talented core of young starting pitchers, along with C.C. Sabathia, Jason Davis, Cliff Lee, Ryan Drese, Brian Tallet and Billy Traber.

Guthrie excelled in baseball, football and basketball at Ashland High, and was also the valedictorian.