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Gwynn Contract With Dodgers Worth $145,000

Times Staff Writer

During the past few years, Tony Gwynn has made it a point to give younger brother Chris extra spending money.

Tony was playing with the San Diego Padres, and Chris was a student at San Diego State. What are older, wealthier brothers for, anyway?

Now, those late-night handouts, which brought joy to Tony and relief to Chris, will no longer be necessary.

Chris, a first-round choice of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the 10th player taken overall in Monday’s draft, has signed a one-year contract worth between $145,000 and $150,000. The deal includes payment for Gwynn’s remaining three semesters at SDSU.

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“It looks as though Chris’ contract will be one of the stronger contracts signed (by draftees) this year, " said Jeff Moorad, Gwynn’s agent and a member of Leigh Steinberg’s law firm in Los Angeles. “All of the contracts of the top 10 players drafted this year will be higher than last year.”

Moorad, who also represents former SDSU shortstop Flavio Alfaro (New York Yankees), former BYU infielder Cory Snyder (Cleveland Indians) and John Hoover (Baltimore Orioles), cited the exposure of the 1984 Olympic baseball team as the primary reason for making this year’s players more marketable. Gwynn was one of five Olympians selected in the top 10.

Gwynn will leave early Monday morning for the Dodgers’ Florida State League Class A team in Vero Beach. It will be his first time in Florida and his first look at minor league pitching.

“I’m curious about the pitching because I think it’s going to be tougher than what I’ve faced in college,” Chris said.

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Bill Schweppe, the Dodgers director of minor league operations, said the Florida State League is more of a pitchers league than the California League, where the Dodgers have their other Class A team in Bakersfield.

“We feel he will face a sterner test there than he would have in the California League,” Schweppe said. “Because the park down there has major league dimensions, we also feel we’ll be better able to judge his abilities.”

For the time being, Gwynn will not benefit from the short dimensions at the Dodgers’ Triple-A field in Albuquerque. The air and the field in New Mexico have been known to make sluggers out of line-drive hitters.

Schweppe added that the Vero Beach club needs a center fielder who can hit.

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Enter Gwynn, who has been told to relax and have fun this summer.

“They haven’t put any pressure on me at all,” Gwynn said. “This summer is just a chance to get my feet wet. The more games I play, the more I’ll improve. I just want to be consistent in all my games. Getting to the majors will happen soon enough.”

The Dodgers agree.

“I might have mentally set a timetable,” said Schweppe, “but I certainly don’t expect him to be in Class A too long.”

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Right now, Gwynn is hoping he’ll spray line drives around the fields at Dodgertown. And he’ll enjoy his status as a professional player.

After signing with the Dodgers, Gwynn donated an undisclosed amount of money to the high school baseball program at his alma mater, Long Beach Poly.

Both on and off the field, Chris seems to follow Tony’s example.


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