The baseball draft is very different than any other pro draft. For one thing, while no contracts can be signed until after a player is chosen, teams not only can talk terms with them prior to the draft, they are encouraged to do so. You see, unlike basketball or football, baseball players can’t really be evaluated at the pro level for three or more years. So teams are investing in an unknown quantity. Obviously, given the numerous rounds of the draft and the number of players involved no one can talk to all of them in advance. But smart teams do talk to their first couple of choices and hammer out some parameters.
Also, thanks to the new CBA, teams and players know what value is assigned to a pick. I will go to Philadelphia’s 40th pick by way of example.
Major League Baseball has a recommended value for each pick, and the amount for the No. 40 selection is $1.29 million.
Watson is a University of Southern California recruit, but he doesn’t sound as if college will be part of his immediate plans.
“I would say if a kid my age got $1.2 million to play baseball, I think he’d pass college for sure,” Watson said.
The Cubs have screwed up some drafts but this year that was to be behind them. They knew who they wanted with their first pick. The amount they could pay was known in advance. They met with the kid on numerous occasions and, if Jed Hoyer is to be believed, basically hovered over the family until draft day.
According to them they knew more about him than he knew about himself.
So why didn’t they know he would turn them down? Gordon Wittenmyer has the whole story.
Could first-round draft pick Albert Almora become a negotiations headache for the Cubs as they try to get him signed before the July 13 deadline?
The Cubs don’t think so. But Almora, the No. 6 overall pick, seemed to raise the issue Tuesday, suggesting he’s ready to sign but still focusing on college baseball and waiting only for the Cubs to negotiate with themselves to determine whether he’ll skip the University of Miami and go pro.
That or he’s having trouble reading adviser Scott Boras’ draft-day media-conference script and trying to suggest leverage in bonus talks.
‘‘In my mind right now, I trust my abilities, and I know what I can do on the field,’’ said Almora, a high school center fielder, during a conference call. ‘‘That’s not the priority right now.
‘‘We have to let the process play out and let the cards fall where they have to fall. I can’t control that. That’s something that Chicago has to talk to with their organization and come to an agreement.’’
That comment came after he was asked to clarify earlier comments in which he said his ‘‘main priority now is college’’ but added, ‘‘I guarantee I’m ready for major-league baseball, but we’ll have to see what happens when it’s time.’’
The Cubs wouldn’t comment on Almora’s remarks, but player development/scouting boss Jason McLeod said Monday the Cubs have done a lot of background work on Almora for a long time.
‘‘We feel like we got to know Albert as well, if not better than any other player in the country,’’ general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday, ‘‘from our area scouts to Jason to [amateur scouting director] Tim [ Wilken ]. We feel very confident with what we have.’’
MLB’s suggested bonus for that slot in the draft is $3.25 million. If the Cubs exceed that, it’ll come from what’s left of a $7.934 million allotment for their top 12 picks.
Under new restrictions in the collective-bargaining agreement, if the Cubs exceed the larger total, they start paying heavy fines up to the loss of future draft picks.
Almora comes from a stable family, they have some money and don’t need him to sign to make things right in their world. You can easily see how college would be a priority there. They want the best for their child now and after baseball.
I’m not ripping on Almora or claiming he’s greedy, even with Boras as his agent teams are restricted in what they can pay draft picks. No, this rests solely on the thin shoulders of Theo and his Theocrats. Because, at some point, this little “bump in the road” came up. Last year the Cubs overcame reluctant signings by throwing buckets of money at them. They can’t do that this year. They knew that. The players knew that. Scott Boras knew that. That means that money isn’t the issue. It also means that they should have known that college would be.
Compare / Contrast.
The White Sox also had a pick in the first round. They knew who they wanted with their first pick. The amount they could pay was known in advance. They met with the kid on numerous occasions and, if Doug Lauman is to be believed, basically hovered over the family until draft day. The kid did a back flip (his last one ever), ran to the stand and then started looking for a pen to sign the contract. He was/is a product of the Sox high school tournament series for minority youths.
In other words the kid had been to Chicago, played in a game at The Cell and met pro staff. If you think that kind of stuff doesn’t matter you have never been a kid.
Rowan Kavner has the whole story.
Balance and signability played key roles throughout the First-Year Player Draft for the White Sox, who used their top two picks on high school stars, and 15 of their final 25 picks on college seniors.
White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann said it’s difficult to predict how successful a draft is until further along in the process, and for high-school players like 13th overall pick Courtney Hawkins and 48th overall pick Keon Barnum, three or four years need to pass before making any judgments.
Hawkins, who excelled as a pitcher and an outfielder, was the prized pick of the class, and will shift his attention away from the mound when he joins the White Sox organization. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound athlete is hitting .437 with 11 home runs and 17 stolen bases at Carroll High School in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Barnum also packs a punch at the plate, as he hit .491 as a junior.
“We tried to play the board the way that we could, and got a lot of middle infielders and young kids,” Laumann said. “You kind of have to do what the draft dictates by what’s available, and I didn’t think the college crop was real good this year.”
One of those middle infielders was New Mexico State shortstop Zachary Voight, who the White Sox selected in the 20th round. Voight hit over .300 his junior and senior years, adding eight home runs his senior year after hitting just two during his junior season.
“It was really nothing to prove that I had the power,” Voight said. “I finally got the freedom, getting to hit in the four-hole rather than the two-hole. I got to look for the pitches to drive rather than look to get the runner over.”
Though Laumann said he wasn’t as fond of the college class this year as in years past, 29 of Chicago’s final 39 picks came from the college ranks. In the later rounds, the White Sox shifted toward selecting more seasoned collegiate players who may be easier to sign.
“Once you get to the 25th, 30, 35th round, you’re not going to be able to be expected to go get a high school kid or even like a college junior that’s got some leverage and the ability to go to college and get better,” Laumann said. “The type of money we pay these guys in the lower rounds, you almost have to stick with the college seniors.”
Regardless of age, the White Sox finished with depth at every position in the draft. The South Siders selected three catchers and third basemen, while grabbing four first basemen, outfielders, second basemen and shortstops.
The remaining 19 selections were pitchers, including 22nd round pick Cory McGinnis, a senior from Auburn University at Montgomery who was also looked at by the Padres a day earlier.
“I’d been drafted before, but when you’re a senior and you know you’re gone, you’re just kind of hoping you get a chance,” McGinnis said.
The White Sox turned their attention to pitching on the second day of the Draft, selecting pitchers with nine of their 14 selections on Tuesday. Of the 19 total pitching selections, 15 were right-handers.
The club’s second and fourth-round picks were both right-handers with high upside. Laumann said Chris Beck, who was selected 76th overall, could be a first-round talent if he can find the stuff he had last summer as a Cape Cod League All-Star.
Brandon Brennan, the club’s fourth-round pick (141st overall), was 11-1 with a 1.25 ERA at Orange Coast College in California.
Laumann said previously that when deciding between a pitcher and a position player, he normally leaned toward taking a hurler. The club took another 10 pitchers on the final day of the draft on Wednesday.
“Typically at the end of the Draft you can find certain positions,” Laumann said. “There’s always a lot of pitchers.”
The White Sox didn’t select a third baseman until the 18th round in Kentucky senior Thomas McCarthy, a first-team All-SEC player in 2011 who hit .310 with five home runs and 33 RBIs this year. They went with third basemen again in consecutive rounds in the 31st and 32nd, with college seniors in East Carolina’s William Thompson and Temple’s Steven Nikorak, respectively.
Thompson hit at least .315 in each of his final two seasons, while the versatile Nikorak, who pitched, and played first base and third base in his time at Tulane, hit .304 with seven home runs.
With the amount of college seniors selected in the later rounds and early high school picks, the South Siders should be able to sign a significant amount of players
For good or ill, the Sox knew in advance that they were going to be able to sign the majority of the players they drafted. Whether or not they chose wisely is a discussion for another day. I happen to like the Hawkins kid and think we’ll see him at The Cell in a few years.
If you scour other MLB sites you will find that the Sox are the norm. Teams knew who would or would not sign going in. The one team that knew it faced signing issues, the Pittsburgh Pirates, knew which players would present a problem and which ones wouldn’t and rolled the dice. That’s not a bad strategy for them. The ones they know will sign are the ones they need. The ones that are iffy are the ones they want. Low risk high reward isn’t always dumb.
Oh, both our teams lost last night. In case you cared.
Oh. The pic? Let’s be honest, you did it then and you do it now. Nothing’s changed.
Just like the Cubs.
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