To my great surprise only four of the Giants’ first thirty picks in this year’s draft were high school players. By way of comparison, the Twins and A’s, both well known as teams that prefer college players, took nine and five high school players respectively.
The five selected by the A’s doesn’t sound like a lot until you notice that after selecting college outfielder Michael Choice in the first round, the A’s selected four consecutive high school players in rounds 2 through 5.
These results could just be random probability at work, with more college players coming up as the top player left on the Giants’ board, and high school players coming up on the A’s board. For example, the A’s 2nd round pick Yordy Cabrera was listed on at least one mock draft I saw as going to the Giants on the 24th pick in the Draft, so the A’s may have felt he was a player too good to let pass at 60th.
Here’s a list of the A’s picks so far.
One thing is for certain, however. It is probably much easier to sign college players selected after the first five rounds than it is to sign high school players. A lot of the high schoolers will choose to go to college on baseball scholarships, rather than accept late-round slot money. The college juniors can go back to college for their senior years, but if they are really serious about playing professionally, they’re better off signing, rather than wait until they’re a year older.
It’s almost always better in the long-term for college juniors to sign rather than go back to school or play Independent A ball. Even for players like J.D. Drew, who got more bonus money by holding out a year, it probably cost him becoming a free agent a year sooner, which is where the real money lies.
A player who got burned by holding out last year is former Kentucky Wildcats’ pitcher James Paxton. He was selected by the Blue Jays with the 37th pick of the 2009 Draft, didn’t sign, but ended up being banned from returning to college because he attended a Blue Jays’ training camp.
Paxton ended up pitching a little in the Independent A American Association, and although he was projected by many as a first round talent, he fell all the way down to the 4th round, when he was selected by the Mariners with the 132nd pick, perhaps due to signability concerns. He basically has no leverage now, and if he gets the money the Blue Jays offered him last year, I’ll be surprised.
Baseball America really likes the Pirates’ draft picks, or at least the first two. After Bryce Harper, most of the mock drafts I saw had high schoolers RHP Jameson Taillon and SS Manny Machado as the best two prospects. The Pirates took Taillon with the second pick, and the Orioles took Machado with the third.
In the second round (52nd overall) the Pirates selected another high school RHP Stetson Allie. Baseball America ranked him the 15th best prospect of the Draft going in, and he was their best player left going into the second round. Apparently, his fastball touches 98 miles per hour.
For what it’s worth, I’m reminded of high school catcher Max Stassi, who the A’s selected with the 123rd pick of the 2009 Draft. He was widely regarded as the best player left after the first three rounds and was expected to go to college. The A’s gave him above-slot money to sign and were widely regarded by the Draft nerds as having pulled a major coup.
Stassi is playing for Kane County in the Class A Midwest League this year. He’s hitting .254 with a .776 OPS, awfully good for a 19 year old catcher. So far, at least, the A’s look like they made a good move, but, of course, Stassi is still a long, long way from the majors.