2007 MLB Draft: The Morning After
The MLB Draft is set to resume this morning with five rounds in the books after day one. We live blogged the first through second rounds yesterday, including pick-by-pick coverage with commentary on every player selected. Thanks to the baseball blogosphere and our readers, Baseball Analysts obliterated its previous record for traffic, exceeding 2,500 per hour at the peak and settling in at nearly 15,000 for the entire day.
Although we will not be live blogging day two, we will provide highlights throughout the day while taking a look back at Thursday's developments. College lefthanders and high school players dominated the proceedings yesterday. Six collegiate southpaws—David Price (Vanderbilt/TB #1), Daniel Moskos (Clemson/PIT #4), Ross Detwiler (Missouri State/WAS #6), Joe Savery (Rice/PHI #17), Nick Schmidt (Arkansas/SD #23), and Aaron Poreda (USF/CWS #25)—were selected before a single righthander (James Simmons, UC Riverside/OAK #26) was plucked.
By the same token, 17 first rounders (vs. just 13 last year) and 20 of the top 33 draftees came from the high school ranks, including the number two (Mike Moustakas, Chatsworth HS/KC) and three (Josh Vitters, Cypress HS/CHC) choices as well as seven RHP—Jarrod Parker (Norwell HS/ARI #9), Phillippe Aumont (Ecole du Versant HS/SEA #11), Blake Beavan (Irving HS/TEX #17), Chris Withrow (Midland Christian HS/LAD #20), Tim Alderson (Horizon HS/SF #22), Michael Main (DeLand HS/TEX #24), and Rick Porcello (Seton Hall Prep/DET #27).
You will have to excuse Scott Carroll and Danny Carroll if they were a little confused on draft day. The two amateur prospects were taken back-to-back with overall picks 104 (Cincinnati) and 105 (Seattle). That is where the similarities end, though. Scott is a college right hander from Missouri State, while Danny is a prep outfielder from Moreno Valley, California.
The Rays made Nicholas Barnese - a right-handed prep pitcher from Simi Valley, California - the first pick of the round. According to Baseball America, Barnese missed his entire junior year of high school due to a team-imposed suspension, so there are perhaps some make-up issues. If he doesn't sign, Barnese is headed to a very good baseball program at Cal State Fullerton.
The Rays organization has had pretty good luck with choosing talent in the third round, but have only signed one player in the last four years in that round: Wade Davis. Other third rounders who did not sign include some kid named Andrew Miller in 2003 (who had fallen due to signability issues) and Bryan Morris in 2005, who was then taken in the first round by the Dodgers the very next year.
The Cubs made an interesting choice with the third pick of the round in college second baseman Tony Thomas. His numbers were seriously lacking until this season, when something clicked. In 2005, as a freshman starter at Florida State, Thomas struck out 75 times in 215 at-bats (the second most in Division I) and 66 times in 235 at-bats as a sophomore. In his junior year, however, his average raised to .430 (from .289 the year previous) and his strikeouts plummeted to 39. BA attributed the improvements to a new stance. I'm still nervous that this could be similar to the 'career season in the free agent year phenomenon.' And the Cubs don't exactly have a solid track record when it comes to developing in-house second basemen.
One of the biggest names in the draft lasted until the third round when the Angels finally took prep pitcher Matt Harvey with the 118th overall pick. The Angels are obviously looking to work some magic with Harvey, who will be a tough sign and will surely not enter pro ball for slot money. His stuff was inconsistent this spring - but still very good - and he is also a Scott Boras client who is committed to North Carolina. Will the Angels have another Nick Adenhart - who was also committed to North Carolina - steal on their hands? It will be interesting to see.
The MLB was obviously having a blue light special on Puerto Rican players in the third round, as teams grabbed the top three ranked players - about two or three rounds higher than predicted. Arizona acted first by nabbing shortstop Reynaldo Navarro with the ninth pick, followed by Cincinnati taking third baseman Neftali Sota at 15 (a fav of mine) and MInnesota with outfielder Angel Morales at 28. They will all require a lot of patience but their upsides are hugh.
With the 18th pick of the round (and 142nd overall) the college-loving Cardinals nabbed slugging U of Texas outfielder Kyle Russell. Most pre-draft mocks had him being taken in the late first round or in the supplemental. As a draft-eligible sophomore, Russell will not be an easy sign, especially after he obliterated Texas' home run record and led Division I with 28 homers. That said, many scouts question whether he will be able to hit for average or not. Our very own Rich Lederer profiled Russell last month and was skeptical of his first-round projection after seeing him play, talking to a talent evaluator, as well as speaking with Russell:
Make no mistake about it, Russell has a powerful stroke, but his swing is not without its holes. Kyle's high strikeout rate and poor showing in the Cape Cod League last summer make one wonder how he will perform with a wood rather than aluminum bat once he turns pro... I liked Russell when I saw him play but am of the opinion that he would be somewhat of a gamble in the first round...
The Toronto Blue Jays did what they do "best" in the draft, which is A) take a lot of college left handers and B) draft a lot of college seniors. With the fourth round pick, they nabbed Arizona's Brad Mills, who fits both bills. It was also the Jays who took Mills in the 2006 draft (22nd round) despite the fact he told teams he wanted to finish his civil engineering degree. Mills told Insidethedome.com that he was not surprised to be drafted by the Jays again and he has every intention of signing this year.
With the final pick of the round, the New York Yankees chose Texas third baseman Brad Suttle. It was not a great draft for the Yankees (so far) and Suttle invokes a luke-warm response from me. Kyle Russell's teammate is also a draft-eligible sophomore, who wants $1 million to sign... which shouldn't be an issue for New York. Suttle is quite slow and has below-average power for a third baseman. Although he may hit for average, his speed will limit him in terms of stretching singles into doubles and beating out infield hits.
With the 16th pick of the round, Texas nabbed prep pitcher John Gast out of a Florida area high school. The left hander was concerned a top talent before succumbing to Tommy John surgery recently. Gast was projected to be a first to third round pick. Interestingly, he didn't fall too far and Texas is obviously hoping for a result similar to what the Angels had when they took top pitching prospect Nick Adenhart with their 14th round pick in 2004 despite a similar injury. Adenhart signed for above-slot at $710,000 and the rest is history.
With the 20th pick in the round, Boston took high school two-way player Will Middlebrooks and announced him as a pitcher (according to MLB.com's draft tracker), even though most scouts projected him to be a better hitter at this point. He was considered a late round or supplemental round option so it will be interesting to see if Texas A&M loses both of its third base recruits (the Jays' first pick Kevin Ahrens is the other).
The Dodgers may have gotten an absolute steal in the fifth round... if he signs. Prep pitcher Kyle Blair has outstanding make-up and is extremely projectable. BA reported that his fastball jumped up to 94-95 as the draft neared. He also has a curveball that is rated a 60 on scouts' 20-80 scale. He is committed to the University of San Diego and could be a tough sign, but may very well be worth it.
Word inside the Red Sox camp is that Middlebrooks was drafted as a shortstop.
I was all set to discuss how Jack McGeary of Boston's Roxbury Latin School had not gone off the board yet but he has now been selected at pick 190 by the Washington Nationals. It's probably about 125 picks after he anticipated being taken off the board but McGeary went to bed last night a non-draftee because of "signability," a non-word that has crept its way into almost every die-hard baseball fan's vocabulary. Sign of the times, I guess.
McGeary, a Stanford commit, is a smart guy with a bright future with or without baseball and I think it was well known around Major League Baseball circles that it would take a lot of money to get a deal done. And so, he slipped. Alan Matthews of Baseball America did a nice job reviewing the other candidates who slipped due to "signability" issues.
Now this I am psyched about. My beloved Boston Red Sox selected our guy Adam Mills of UNC Charlotte in the 8th round. I spoke with Mills about an hour ago and he sounded almost as enthusiastic as I was! When I congratulated him, Mills exclaimed "I'm excited to be heading your way, man." In all likelihood, Mills will start the year in Lowell of the New York - Penn League.
Once the draft is over, attention will certainly turn toward signing bonuses. Courtesy of the Baseball America 2007 Prospect Handbook, I have created a table showing the bonuses for the past two years for all players drafted in the first round, followed by every fifth pick through 50 and every tenth pick thereafter (up to and including 100).
2005 2006 1. $6.100M $3.500M 2. 4.000 3.250 3. 3.400 3.000 4. 2.975 2.750 5. 2.450 2.450 6. 2.400 3.550 7. 2.300 2.300 8. 1.500 2.000 9. 3.550 2.100 10. 2.650 2.025 11. 1.900 3.000 12. 1.800 1.600 13. 1.700 1.475 14. 1.695 1.700 15. 1.570 1.625 16. 1.600 1.550 17. 1.575 1.575 18. 1.550 1.550 19. 1.525 1.525 20. 1.750 1.500 21. 1.475 2.250 22. 1.225 1.425 23. 1.400 1.400 24. 1.375 1.375 25. 1.350 1.350 26. 1.325 1.325 27. 1.300 1.300 28. 1.000 1.550 29. 1.000 1.050 30. 1.100 0.950 35. 0.950 0.950 40. N/A 0.950 45. 0.762 0.762 50. 0.690 0.690 60. 0.600 0.600 70. 0.515 0.515 80. 0.475 0.450 90. 0.422 0.422 100. 0.385 0.385
The above table allows you to see how much "slot money" is for each of the draft picks. A handful of players in each of the past two drafts were deemed "special cases" and received bonuses above slot. A few players were even willing to take less than slot.
How much the No. 1 pick gets is usually the toughest of 'em all. Justin Upton signed for $6.1M in 2005 while Luke Hochevar re-entered the draft in 2006 and signed for $3.5M. Look for David Price to get a bit more than Hochevar but not nearly as much as Upton, who had the option of not signing and going to college. Price, of course, could return for his senior year but that is highly unlikely unless Tampa Bay low balls him. The two sides obviously talked before the draft and are apparently discussing numbers that are palatable to both.
Going down the list in 2005, you can see that Wade Townsend agreed to a deal with TB for well below slot money at No. 8. Mike Pelfrey, on the other hand, held out for about an extra $1.5M when he negotiated his deal at No. 9 with the New York Mets. Cameron Maybin was a tough sign at No. 10 but the Detroit Tigers, who have shown a willingness to pay what it takes to get the players they want, stepped up and gave him a bonus of $500,000-$600,000 over slot.
Mark Pawelek (No. 20 in 2005) and his agent Scott Boras worked out a deal with the Chicago Cubs before the draft for a quarter of a million over slot. Aaron Thompson (No. 22) accepted a signing bonus from the Florida Marlins that was $200,000 below slot.
In 2006, Detroit found Andrew Miller, the consensus No. 1 pick in the draft, still on the board at No. 6 so they grabbed him and gave the former Tar Heel $3.55M, the highest signing bonus last year. Max Scherzer (No. 11) held out until almost literally the last minute, finally inking a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks that included a bonus of $3M. A third pitcher—Ian Kennedy of USC—signed with the New York Yankees for $750,000 over slot money at No. 21. Kennedy, by the way, is pitching for the club's High-A affiliate in Tampa and is leading the Florida State League in wins (6), ERA (1.29), and WHIP (0.97). It just shows that you have to be willing to think—and pay—outside the box.
Tyler Colvin (No. 13) was drafted higher than expected because he showed a willingness to accept a bonus that was below slot from the Chicago Cubs, who were looking to save money in the first round to justify Jeff Samardzija's whopping bonus in a later round.
And that's the ins and outs of signing bonuses and slot money.