No. 1 Pick In Draft Gets $400,000 Deal

ATLANTA - Chipper Jones, the No. 1 selection in baseball's free-agent draft, has signed a contract with the Atlanta Braves that contains a record signing bonus of $275,000.

The shortstop's father, Larry Jones, said after his son signed last night that terms of the contract are ``extremely fair,'' covering $68,000 in college education and a bonus that tops the record $241,000 Atlanta gave to a draft choice, catcher Tyler Houston, last year.

The contract also includes incentives for each level of professional baseball the player attains and a life-insurance annuity that pushed the total value of the package to about $400,000.

Jones, 18, a high-school senior, said the Braves told him he would play for their Gulf Coast League affiliate in Bradenton, Fla., while he recovers from a broken bone in his right hand, and then move on to the Pulaski, Va., team in the Appalachian rookie league.

The Braves had regarded Todd Van Poppel of Arlington, Texas, as the top selection, but the 18-year-old pitcher and his father insisted he is not ready to turn pro and will attend the University of Texas.

Although the Braves took Van Poppel at his word, the Oakland Athletics did not.

When Van Poppel and his 90 mph fastball still were available as the A's stepped forward to make the No. 14 pick of the first round, Oakland - using a pick obtained from Milwaukee as compensation for the signing of Dave Parker - grabbed him.

The draft continues through tomorrow with 1,500 players expected to be selected.