MLB Draft 2012: 5 Players Drafted Too High for Signability Reasons
As the MLB draft rolls around each June, teams begin to wonder about their prospective players. They try to seek out the best talent at their respective pick, meshing talent and makeup to form some sort of rankings system.
Baseball America ranks the Top 100 Prospects in the nation for all to see, but teams often grade prospects on different attributes, such as Carlos Correa, who was slotted at No. 7 by Baseball America, but was drafted No. 1 overall by the Houston Astros.
This all seems like a very simple process, but the hardest part of the draft does not lie in the R&D of the scouting department.
Although a team can draft a player, the hardest part behind the draft is the "signability" of a player. For example, the San Diego Padres selected Karsten Whitson with the ninth overall pick in the 2010 MLB draft but he had already committed to the University of Florida, so the Padres ended up without a first-round pick in 2010.
So before teams start to fill out their "big boards," they factor in talent, signability and slot value.
Slot value, to those who don't know, is a specific value set for each pick in the draft. Commissioner Bud Selig and his committee decide the value for the No. 1 overall pick and then the value of each pick afterwards decreases by a certain percentage. If this sounds complicated, here is a visual aid with the 2012 slot values.
After determining what each pick is worth, the MLB totals the value of a team's top 10 picks and assigns each team a draft budget. So whenever a team says that a player is "above slot value," they are essentially saying that a player is asking for more money than his slotted value.
While this doesn't seem like a bad thing for the big teams with cash (Yes, New York and Boston, I'm looking at you), the severity of spending above the budget for the draft is immense.
Quoted from the 2012 MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement:
a. Each Club will be assigned an aggregate Signing Bonus Pool prior to each draft. For the purpose of calculating the Signing Bonus Pools, each pick in the first 10 rounds of the draft has been assigned a value. (These values will grow each year with the rate of growth of industry revenue.) A Club’s Signing Bonus Pool equals the sum of the values of that Club’s selections in the first 10 rounds of the draft. Players selected after the 10th round do not count against a Club’s Signing Bonus Pool if they receive bonuses up to $100,000. Any amounts paid in excess of $100,000 will count against the Pool.
b. Penalties for exceeding the Signing Bonus Pool are:
Excess of Pool Penalty - (Tax on Overage/Draft Picks)
* 0-5% - 75% tax on overage
* 5-10% - 75% tax on overage and loss of 1st round pick
* 10-15% - 100% tax on overage and loss of 1st and 2nd round picks
* 15%+ - 100% tax on overage and loss of 1st round picks in next two drafts
So when a player has "signability" issues, the team is either worried about the player's individual college commitment or the money.
Either way, it is difficult to make both sides happy. With that in mind, here are five players that are highly unlikely to sign with their respective teams.
Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford
If the Pirates can pull this off, they might have the best rotation come 2015. With Gerrit Cole, Jameson Tallion and possibly Appel, they would have three potential aces, as well as breakout star James McDonald.
However, this is very unlikely.
After hearing that ESPN's Keith Law had Appel ranked No. 1, Appel had to be stoked about his soon-to-be $7 million dollar contract (This is referring back to the slot values mentioned on the previous slide).
However, the Astros selected Carlos Correa at No. 1 and Appel plummeted to the Pirates at No. 8.
Appel was a draft-eligible junior at Stanford University and after losing $5 million in slot value, you have to believe that he will return for his senior year.
Anthony Alford, CF, Petal High School
This one will probably be even harder than Appel.
Alford is the prototypical toolsy prep outfielder with speed through the roof.
The only problem is that he is already committed to Southern Miss to play football.
Although it is possible, the Jays will have a tough time signing this one.
Jameis Winston, OF, Hueytown High School
According to this article on the Orlando Sentinel, there is no chance that the Rangers sign OF Jameis Winston.
Too bad, he has the tools and the makeup to do well in the MLB.
It seems that two-sport athletes tend to be shifting towards playing football nowadays, as can be seen by fellow outfielder, Anthony Alford.
Winston is committed to Florida State and while he would be a nice baseball prospect, the OF looks as if he will be playing football for the Seminoles in the fall.
Zach Eflin, RHP, Hagerty High School
Eflin, pictured left, will have a tough time signing.
According to this article in the Seminole Chronicle, Eflin is projected to sign with the Padres.
Well, that isn't the whole story.
Eflin is already committed to UCF, and while it is possible that he may renege, it seems as if he will play at UCF in the fall.
He would be a steal for the Padres at the 33rd pick, and if they in fact do reach an agreement, the Padres could have one of the best picks in the draft.
Only time will tell, but Eflin looks as if he won't be playing for the Padres anytime soon.
Lance McCullers, RHP, Tampa Jesuit HS (Fla.)
This was a steal by the Astros. After selecting Carlos Correa at No. 1 overall, the Astros got McCullers in compensation for losing Clint Barmes last offseason.
After signing Correa nearly $3 million under slot (the Astros' plan all along), the 'Stros got the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the year award.
Having two of the best prospects in the game without going over slot value?
It's these kinds of moves that have the Astros moving in the right direction.