A big month for Heritage High School alum Cole Wilcox just got huge.
The former University of Georgia sophomore pitcher began June by receiving Collegiate Baseball second team All-American honors. Just over a week later, Wilcox was selected in the third round - No. 80 overall - by the San Diego Padres in the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft.
Then on Tuesday night, Wilcox officially became a Padre in a record-setting deal as the big league club gave him a $3.3 million signing bonus. The agreement was first reported on Twitter by Jim Callis of MLB.com and later confirmed by Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Wilcox shared photos of the signing on his Twitter account Tuesday night, adding:
"Thank you to the @Padres for the opportunity. I am forever grateful to the organization for allowing me to fulfill a lifelong dream. Can’t wait to get to work! #GoPadres"
Wilcox's signing bonus broke the third-round record the Padres set last year when they gave high school outfielder Hudson Head a $3 million signing bonus to forgo his commitment to Oklahoma State and turn pro. Head was picked No. 84 overall by San Diego in 2019.
The $3.3 million bonus was over four times more than MLB's assigned $767,800 value for the No. 80 overall pick in this year's draft. However, Callis also reported on MLB.com on May 29 that San Diego had $10,674,000 in its bonus pool to pay this year's draft picks.
Wilcox had been projected by many baseball media sources as a first-round draft pick this year and, in the end, he got paid like one. His reported signing bonus is comparable to what the No. 20 overall pick was slotted for ($3,242,900), according to MLB.com.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound righty went 3-2 with 4.07 ERA in 19 appearances to earn SEC All-Freshman honors at Georgia, striking out 64 hitters and walking 38 in 59.2 innings as opposing teams hit .216 against him. However, he was 3-1 in SEC play with a 2.57 ERA in 35 innings pitched, while allowing just a .198 average to opposing hitters.
In 2020, he had four starts for the Bulldogs in the COVID-19 shortened season, but dominated by going 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA. He recorded 32 strikeouts and just two walks in 23 innings on the hill, allowing opponents to hit just .209.
Included in that was a three-hit, zero-walk, seven-inning performance against then-No. 17 Georgia Tech, which saw him set a career-high with 11 strikeouts. as the Bulldogs handed the Jackets a 12-0 loss.
Georgia was 14-4 overall and climbed as high as No. 2 in the USA Today rankings when the season was shut down in mid-March.
Wilcox's immediate playing future is still up in the air, as of press time. It was also announced on Tuesday that there would be no minor league baseball in 2020.
However, as MLB teams are getting set for summer camp prior to the July 23 start to its pandemic-shortened 60-game season, big league clubs will be allowed to begin camp with a 60-player pool.
Jermaine Ong of KGTV in San Diego reported on Tuesday that 52 of those spots had already been set and there is some speculation that Wilcox could be one of the final eight prospects to make the list.
Ong reported that the camp's 52-player pool includes the Padres' 2020 first-round pick, Robert Hassell III, who played last year at Independence H.S. in Franklin, Tenn., Head, who received the big signing bonus last year, and Taylor Trammell, a Mount Paran Christian H.S. alum and former first-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 2016, who was traded to San Diego last July.
Camp for the Padres is reportedly set to begin at Petco Park in San Diego and possibly at the University of San Diego as early as July 1.