Around the MinorsAugust 20, 2008
Wrappin' Up the Draft
By Marc Hulet

The 2008 draft deadline has come and gone, and when the dust settled almost all the big-name amateur draft picks had signed on the dotted line - save for three. A trio of pitchers chose not to begin chasing their Major League Baseball dream right away, including Aaron Crow (Washington), Joshua Fields (Seattle) and Gerrit Cole (New York AL).

Both Crow and Fields are considering playing for independent baseball leagues, while Cole - a prep right-hander - is headed off to pitch for UCLA. Crow will have to wait to sign with a new club until next year. Fields, though, as a senior without the option of returning to school, did not have to sign at the deadline like everyone else. He has until the week before the 2009 draft to sign with Seattle, but what is he waiting for? He turned 23 years old yesterday and needs significant work on his control before becoming an effective Major League reliever (He has averaged more than five walks per nine innings in his last two college seasons). The market seems pretty simple to me, as Fields was taken sandwiched between two other college relievers who signed for $1.54 million (Andrew Cashner) and $1.48 million (Ryan Perry).

Cole will have to wait a full three years, which is a big risk considering the fragility of pitchers and the amount of money he turned down from the Yankees (more than $2 million). I can understand wanting to get a good education, but $2 million is a pretty good cushion if the Major League career does not turn out - and you are never too old to go back to school.

It came down to the wire but the top eight picks in the draft all came to terms. Top pick Tim Beckham and sixth round Kyle Skipworth both signed more than a month ago and have been able to benefit from valuable development time in the minors. Negotiations between Pedro Alvarez, the second overall pick, and Pittsburgh came down to the wire but he signed for $6 million. The Pirates needs to make the move after last year's debacle (Daniel Moskos). Kansas City threw out another $6 million to high school slugger Eric Hosmer, who is considered a very advanced offensive player. The club also gave seven figures to fourth round selection Tim Melville, a talented right-handed pitcher whom many thought was headed to college (which is why he fell out of first-round consideration). Interestingly enough, the small-market Royals spent more on the draft ($10-plus million) than any other club, according to Baseball America.

Baltimore signed top college pitcher Brian Matusz to a Major League contract with a signing bonus of $3.2 million, and with more than $6 million guaranteed over the life of his career. Catcher Buster Posey settled with San Francisco for a whopping $6.2 million, which might have been the biggest overpayment in the top eight. He's talented, but his bat may not be superstar quality, which is what I'd hope for from an amateur being handed that much money up front.

Yonder Alonso, on the other hand, could be the biggest steal of the draft for "only" $2 million. That said, he did receive a Major League contract and a guarantee of $4.55 million. Although he doesn't really fit in with Cincinnati's current 25-man roster (thanks to the presence of top rookie Joey Votto), teams always find a way to make room for players with star power. Alonso has been a consistent performer for three college seasons, and he has excellent plate discipline to go along with his 30 home run power potential. Gordon Beckham agreed to terms with the White Sox for $2.2 million and could move quickly through the club's minor league system.

The Rangers wrapped up Justin Smoak, the 11th overall selection in the draft, for $3.5 million. Smoak has 25-30 home run potential, as well as Gold Glove promise in the field. Despite concerns about his hip, San Diego gave Allan Dykstra $1.15 million to forgo his senior college season. Boston gave 30th pick and high school two-way player Casey Kelly $3 million to turn a blind eye to a college career. The organization also threw out seven-figure contracts to two other draft picks (Ryan Westmoreland and Pete Hissey).

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Let's take a quick look now at the race for American League and National League Rookies of the Year, although I will go into more detail next week. On the offensive side of things, Geovany Soto (Chicago NL) and David Murphy (Texas) are tied for the lead in hits with 114. Evan Longoria is leading the pack with 22 homers (and slugging at .533), while Soto is just four behind. Murphy has driven in 74 runs for Texas, while Longoria is just three runs short. Boston outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury's 38 steals are 27 more than his closest competition. Soto's .286 batting average is good for first overall, while Cincinnati's Joey Votto is second at .281. Atlanta's Gregor Blanco leads all rookies with a .371 on-base average.

As for the pitchers, Nick Blackburn (Minnesota) and Jair Jurrjens (Atlanta) are leading the way with 152.2 and 151.1 innings, respectively. Blackburn has given up 170 hits (the most of any rookie pitcher) but he also has the lowest BB/9 ratio, having allowed just 26 free passes. Johnny Cueto (Cincinnati) leads the rookie hurlers with 136 strikeouts, which is 24 more than second-place Jurrjens. Armando Galarraga (Detroit) and Jurrjens are tied for the most rookie wins with 11. Galarraga also leads rookies with a 3.11 ERA. The most saves by a rookie goes to Cleveland's Masa Kobayashi.


What about the Twins' Denard Span? It looks like (barring injury) he'll play 90+ games and he is batting .318/.396/.458 as the Twins' leadoff hitter. Do you think he has a shot at ROY? He also has 10 steals in 14 attempts.

Thanks for the interesting write-up, although I did not realize Smoak was so talented on the links as well (kidding). Although I know Cole's father was hell-bent on him attending school at UCLA, I would find it hard to turn down the $$, considering he has some kinks in his delivery, possibly foreshadowing injury, and for the reasons you have stated. I would wager that Soto and Longoria will be the picks for ROY.

Still no love for Joba? He was one of the best set-up men in the beginning of the season, and when he was a starter, he was one of the best starting pitchers(even with his last start). I know that he's only thrown about 90 innings, but still.

Joba? They dont give awards to guys that are hurt usually.
Span? Equally ridiculous. Hes on pace to play 55% of the teams games. No, sorry.
Longoria had it wrapped up but then decided to take the last two months off. He out.
Murphy plays on the Rangers, and helping them finish in the middle of the pack doesnt do it for me, besides, my guy has 108 hits, in the same neighborhood, who has played 100 games and has seen his club take off when he became the every day two bagger.
Im talking about Alexei Ramirez. Hes hitting .310, has more HR than any other 2b in the AL not named Kinsler, and his team is 20 games over .500 since he has become an everyday player.
Thats your AL rookie of the year.

Soto probably deserves the NL Roy completing the Chicago sweep.

Alexi Ramirez will and should win A.L ROY if he keeps up his current pace.

Joba, ridiculous? F** the heck? The AL Rookie Leaders in VORP are Evan Longoria (32.2), Armando Galarraga (29.8), and Joba Chamberlain (29.3). Yea, Longoria probably deserves the award because he plays great defense too, but he's also HURT, isn't he? Should that disqualify him. If Joba can come back and pitch well, he'll be right in there.
Also it looks like Galarrag would be a good choice, why doesn't he get any love.

Alexei Ramirez is at 18.3, so no there is no way wins the ROY. Sorry Chisox fans.

Sorry I only read the beginning of your post, I assumed you were arguing for Longoria. Arguing for Alexei Ramirez is worse, though.

Since when did having the 2nd most homreruns at a position and playing for a good team qualify one for the ROY? He doesn't play good defense (according to Keith Law, he should probably be moved to the OF, I think), has a .329 OBP, and has been caught stealing in 8 out of 17 steal attempts. Those are not ROY numbers.

Since when did fracturing a bone equate to 'taking two months off'?

Longoria has my vote in the American League... I think Joba will be hurt by A) the time lost due to injury, and B) the switch from reliever to starter. Plus Longoria is playing for a team headed to the playoffs (How Bizarro World is it that the Rays looked headed to the playoffs and the Yankees may be shut out??). I'd be shocked if Soto doesn't get the award in the NL given all the press he's received.