The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH - Left-hander Paul Maholm, the Pirates' first-round pick in this year's draft, agreed to terms Wednesday and was headed to Bradenton, Fla., to work out with Pittsburgh's rookie-league team.

Maholm agreed to a $2.2 million signing bonus, according to his agent, Bo McKinnis.

The 6-foot-3-inch Maholm was 9-2 at Mississippi State University this spring as a junior and had a 2.76 ERA. He was 27-10 with a 3.55 ERA in 46 games over three seasons.

He was chosen eighth overall in the draft.

"We are very pleased to come to terms with Paul," said Dave Littlefield, Pirates senior vice president and general manager. "He's had a great deal of success at the collegiate level and we're looking forward to him continuing that within the Pirates organization."

Littlefield said it has not been determined where Maholm will be assigned.

"I think a combination of us watching him and him kind of giving us an idea of how he feels will determine in time where he goes, but I would anticipate he'll be in Bradenton for a week or two to get his feet on the ground and get some pitches under his belt," Littlefield said.

Maholm, 20, said he matured as a pitcher in college but was ready to move on.

"High school, if you're good enough to come out, that's really great, but college is where I needed to be," Maholm said. "Now I'm glad to take another step in my career."

Maholm was named to the All-Southeastern Conference first team as the Bulldogs went 42-20-1 and earned a berth in the NCAA Regional Finals. He set career-highs with 101 strikeouts in 107 2-3 innings.

With Maholm, the Pirates have now taken a pitcher with their first-round draft pick for six consecutive years and seven of the past eight years.

Kris Benson, the Pirates' No. 1 starter, was the first overall pick in the 1996 draft. Outfielder J.J. Davis, the eighth overall pick in 1997, is the last position player the Pirates drafted in the first round.

Bryan Bullington, a right-hander, was the first overall pick in the draft last year and is now pitching in Lynchburg, Va., for the Pirates.

On Wednesday, Maholm said he was anxious to get to Florida and begin working out.

"I've been away from the game for a while and when you take a little time off, you kind of get the itch to come back," he said. "I've got that and I'm ready to go wherever they send me and do my job."

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