2015 Amateur Draft Rumors

Quick Hits: Soriano, Draft, Price, Red Sox

Scott Boras, Rafael Soriano‘s agent, tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that he’s getting an increasing number of calls about his client.  It’s not surprising that interest in Soriano is picking up now that the season has begun and teams are dealing with injuries or ineffective relievers in their bullpens.  The Twins, Tigers and Blue Jays have all been linked to Soriano at various points over the winter, though it’s unknown as to whether any of those teams still have any interest in the veteran.

Here’s some more from around baseball…

  • Commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters (hat tip to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle) that he would like draft prospects’ “medical information to be made available to all clubs before the draft,” but the MLBPA hasn’t accepted this proposed change to the collective bargaining agreement.  Drellich explains the stances of both the league and the union on this issue, which most notably cropped up when the Astros didn’t sign first overall pick Brady Aiken due to concerns about his left UCL last summer.
  • David Price could be more inclined to sign with an NL team next winter since “he loves to hit,” a source tells George A. King III of the New York Post.  While this will likely be a minor factor in what could be a $200MM free agent decision for Price, maybe the desire for more plate appearances could end up being a tiebreaker if he gets otherwise similar offers from an AL and an NL team.  For what it’s worth, Price has an .071/.133/.071 slash line through 30 career PA.
  • With Edward Mujica struggling and his velocity down, CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam wonders if the Red Sox might eventually release Mujica and eat the roughly $4MM remaining on his contract rather than let the righty continue in an important relief role.  In my opinion, releasing Mujica would be a hasty move this early in the season since his xFIP (2.78) and SIERA (2.50) hint that he isn’t that badly, and his 4.70 ERA or 6.90 FIP are due to a couple of wildly inflated peripherals (most notably, 3.52 HR/9).
  • Several of baseball’s top pitchers were acquired by their current teams before they became so-called “aces,” and Alex Speier of the Boston Globe notes that the Red Sox attempted this strategy by acquiring two pitchers with great stuff (Joe Kelly and Eduardo Rodriguez) in the hopes that one or both would develop into a rotation headliner.  This isn’t to say that the Sox might still not try to trade for an established ace in the near future, yet trying to find one in the early stages of his development is sometimes a better strategy than paying a big price to land a proven starter who might already have passed his prime.

Draft Notes: Rodgers, Fulmer, Buehler, Red Sox

We’re about six weeks away from the June draft. Here’s the latest on what’s emerging as a thin class at the top.

  • Shortstop and top draft prospect Brendan Rodgers‘ season ended Monday as Seminole beat Lake Mary in Florida’s 8A-2 playoffs, John Manuel of Baseball America notes (on Twitter). As BA’s J.J. Cooper tweets, that at least ensures that, unlike many potential early draft picks (Brady Aiken, California high school pitcher Kolby Allard, Duke pitcher Michael Matuella), Rodgers will have gotten through the season healthy. It’s been an ugly year for top-end draft talents, but Rodgers’ season ends with him at the top of MLB.com’s draft rankings, as well as Kiley McDaniel’s recent rankings for FanGraphs.
  • Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer had the best weekend of any top draft-eligible college pitcher, BA’s Hudson Belinsky writes. Another Vanderbilt pitcher and top draft prospect, Walker Buehler, had trouble with his command against South Carolina. His changeup has also been inconsistent. “I think that’s kind of been the theme for me this year,” Buehler says of his changeup. Fulmer and Buehler join infielder Dansby Swanson as Commodores likely to be selected in the top half of the first round.
  • In a chat at FanGraphs, McDaniel says that Fulmer to the Red Sox at No. 7 overall is a “rumor that won’t go away.” As noted this weekend, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington watched Fulmer and Swanson on Friday. McDaniel gives Fulmer a 65-70 percent chance of sticking as a starter in the Majors, though he notes in his draft rankings that he likes Fulmer more than most — at 5-foot-11, Fulmer is relatively small for a top-end starting pitcher, and he has a higher-effort delivery.

McDaniel On The June Draft

Here’s the latest on the 2015 draft, via a massive post from FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel.

  • McDaniel notes that there isn’t much top-level talent in this draft (an opinion shared by many analysts), and says that the industry is unclear what the Diamondbacks will do with, or even how they’re thinking about, the first pick in the draft.
  • The Astros, who have the second overall pick, appear to be focused on high school shortstop Brendan Rodgers, UC-Santa Barbara pitcher Dillon Tate, and Vanderbilt infielder Dansby Swanson, who McDaniel ranks the top three prospects in the draft.
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington was seen on ESPNU last night watching Swanson and Vanderbilt pitcher Carson Fulmer. The Red Sox pick seventh. They’ve also been connected to LSU shortstop Alex Bregman. McDaniel ranks Bregman the fourth-best prospect in the draft, Fulmer the seventh.
  • Since the draft lacks much top talent, one possibility is that many teams will draft second-round-type players in the first round and save money against their bonus pools for later picks in the draft.
  • McDaniel ranks Astros unsigned 2014 No. 1 pick Brady Aiken the No. 24 prospect in the draft, noting that many in the industry feel that Aiken’s arm issues go beyond Tommy John surgery and that he could have further injury problems later in his career.


MLB Releases Draft Bonus Slots

The league has informed teams of the draft bonus slot allocations that will apply to this year’s amateur draft, as Baseball America reports. With the first overall pick, the Diamondbacks will have just over $8.6MM to spend (or divert to other picks).

2015 draft pools

That top choice was given a shade over $7.9MM in value last year. The Astros had agreed to a $6.5MM deal with first overall pick Brady Aiken before a controversial dispute over his physical left that agreement unconsummated. Houston would have been in line to distribute that $1.4MM in savings to other top picks. Particularly with a reportedly weak top of this year’s class, Arizona could well look to do something similar.

The first-round values are presented at right. Obviously, every team started with a first-round pick but not every one ended the winter with one still in its bag due to the signing of qualifying offer-bound free agents. And the Astros — like the Blue Jays last year — have an extra first-rounder (in this case, the second overall pick) for failing to sign the prior year’s draft choice.

Values of the individual picks are, of course, somewhat less important than are the overall spending pools across all picks, which BA updates here. While Arizona has the largest single pick allocation, Houston’s extra first-round choice gives it the greatest overall pool. Indeed, the D’Backs are not even the team with the second-highest total dollars to spend. The Rockies, which also hold the 27th overall choice, hold that distinction.

The reason that Colorado is able to leapfrog their division rival in net draft muscle is, of course, due to the remainder of the first round choices, listed at right. Michael Cuddyer’s surprising decision to turn down the team’s qualifying offer and sign with the Mets left a highly valuable draft slot in  his former club’s hands.

2015 draft pools2

Among these “sandwich” round picks, the first ten (number 27-36) go to teams that lost qualifying offer-declining free agents. The remainder are compensation choices awarded to lower-revenue teams through a lottery.

If you are interested in reviewing all the other bonus limits applicable to the first ten rounds of the summer’s draft, be sure to check out the original link listed at the top of this post. BA has listed the values for each of the draft’s first 315 picks.


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2015 Draft Pool Changes By Team

Last week, Baseball America’s John Manuel reported an 8.77 percent increase among draft pool allotments from 2014. That change was highly significant, as the draft pools only rose by a combined 1.7 percent from 2013 to 2014. Thanks to the data provided by BA, we’re able to look and see which clubs will see the largest increase and largest decline from their 2014 pools.

Draft Pool Changes

2015 draft pool gains and losses

As you can see, the D-Backs, who selected 16th overall in 2014 but will have the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, saw the largest increase, adding more than $6MM to their allotment by virtue of their improved draft status. Meanwhile, the Mets, who forfeited their top pick — one of the highest unprotected picks in this year’s draft — in order to sign Michael Cuddyer to a two-year contract, won’t select until No. 53 overall and, as such, have the lowest pool among teams in this year’s draft.

The Astros possess the largest pool of all, which shouldn’t be surprising, considering the fact that they have the No. 2 and No. 5 overall selections based on their failure to sign 2014 No. 1 pick Brady Aiken and their poor record this past season. Houston also acquired a Competitive Balance Round A pick (No. 37 overall) from the Marlins in last summer’s Jarred Cosart trade, which explains in large part why the Marlins’ own draft pool is the most shrunken in all of baseball. Miami dropped from the No. 2 overall slot to the No. 12 overall pick in this year’s draft as well, and they also had a supplemental third-round pick in 2014 for failing to sign 2013 third-rounder Ben DeLuzio, which they of course do not have in 2015. As such, their $7.4MM free-fall isn’t exactly surprising.

In addition to the previously mentioned Mets, other clubs that signed players who rejected qualifying offers all saw decreases in their bonus pools as well. The White Sox (David Robertson and Melky Cabrera) saw a decrease of $4.16MM, the Blue Jays (Russell Martin) dropped by $4MM, the Mariners (Nelson Cruz) fell by $2.58MM, the Nationals (Max Scherzer) lost $1.17MM and the Padres saw a $921K decrease after signing James Shields.

Toronto’s $4MM drop may seem steep since they did receive a comp pick in exchange for Cabrera signing with the White Sox, but the Blue Jays do not pick until 29th overall this season after selecting ninth and 11th in 2014. (Toronto had an extra first-round pick after not signing 2013 first-rounder Phil Bickford.)

Another team whose change is perhaps surprising at first is the Red Sox, who forfeited a pair of picks to sign both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez but saw just a $150K decrease. However, it must also be noted that Boston leaped from 26th overall coming off a World Series to a protected pick — No. 7 overall — after their surprising fall to last place in the AL East. Likewise, the Twins signed Ervin Santana despite a qualifying offer and saw just a $137K drop. Minnesota’s top pick, too, was protected, so the Twins instead forfeited their second-round pick to land Santana. They also picked up a Competitive Balance Round B pick in this year’s Competitive Balance Lottery after not having a Comp Balance pick in 2014.

The only other players to reject qualifying offers last year were Victor Martinez and Francisco Liriano, both of whom re-signed with their previous teams anyhow. As for the rest of the teams to gain picks from qualifying offers, the Rockies ($5.6MM), Orioles ($5.5MM), Yankees ($4.7MM), Braves ($3.8MM), Tigers ($2.2MM), Dodgers ($2MM) and Giants ($1.6MM) each saw increases. The Royals, despite gaining a pick for the loss of Shields, still saw a $1.4MM dip, though that was due to dropping from 17th to 21st in the draft order and also missing out on a Comp Balance pick in this year’s lottery.


Quick Hits: Draft Pools, Street, Viciedo, Melky

Major League Baseball has let teams know the bonus pool values for the 2015 amateur draft, and Baseball America’s John Manuel has the full list of what each team can spend on players taken in the first 10 rounds.  The Astros have the highest bonus pool (at a bit more than $17.289MM) in part because they received the second overall selection as compensation for not signing Brady Aiken with the No. 1 pick last summer — Houston has both the second and fifth overall picks in the 2015 draft.  As noted earlier today, the 2015-16 international draft pool values were also determined and revealed by Baseball America’s Ben Badler.

Here’s some more from around the game…

  • Huston Street and the Angels haven’t begun yet talks about an extension during Spring Training, he tells MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link).  Street said he wanted “a week or so to settle in first” at camp and then the two sides would start negotiating.  The closer is known to be looking for a new deal comparable to the contracts signed by David Robertson and Andrew Miller this offseason.
  • The Indians are still interested in adding Dayan Viciedo but only on a minor league contract, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets.  Hoynes reported on the Tribe’s interest in Viciedo two weeks ago, though Hoynes felt Viciedo would more likely opt for a team who could offer him a Major League deal and a clearer path to playing time.
  • Melky Cabrera was already intrigued by the White Sox since his wife loves Chicago, though the outfielder wasn’t totally sold until he saw the team’s winter moves, Cabrera told CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes.  When GM Rick Hahn approached Cabrera earlier in the offseason, he was more skeptical since he wanted to play for a contender.  Cabrera “really wanted to win,” Hahn recalled. “(He said) ‘But with all due respect are you guys really in a position to win and am I really a difference maker for you?’ ”
  • With Michael Saunders sidelined for several months, the Blue Jays are lacking in solid left field replacement options, Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith writes.  Nicholson-Smith lists several internal and external candidates who are flawed (or unlikely to be pursued) for one reason or another.  The PadresWill Venable is cited as perhaps the best trade candidate for the Jays’ LF hole, though even he isn’t a perfect fit.
  • The Mariners are putting a lot of faith in Logan Morrison to be healthy and productive this season, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes, given Morrison’s injury history and Seattle’s lack of depth at the first base position.

Quick Hits: Rule Changes, Draftees, Porcello

MLB owners are likely to discuss a variety of potential rule changes next week at their quarterly meetings in Arizona, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi writes. One change that isn’t likely to take place for next season is the addition of a pitch clock, due to a lack of support from both the league and its players. Other rules, however, will receive strong consideration, including a rule requiring batters to keep one foot in the batter’s box between most pitches, and another requiring runners to slide directly toward second on double plays rather than going out of their way to slide into middle infielders. There could also be discussion about modifying the instant replay rule and Rule 7.13 (the rule designed to prevent collisions at home). MLB and the MLBPA will also meet this month to discuss a new policy regarding domestic violence, Morosi writes. Here’s more from around baseball.

  • High school draftees are often more coachable than prospects from college, writes David Laurila of Fangraphs. High school draftees “usually listen more,” says Brewers farm director Reid Nichols. “Part of the reason is because everyone is as good, or better, than they are. They struggle, and when you struggle you look for help. In a more general sense, you have those extra three years to mold them and help them.” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow echoes Nichols’ sentiments but notes that because high school draftees are further from the Majors, there’s greater variance in how they ultimately turn out.
  • Both Rick Porcello and the Red Sox are gambling on the righty’s performance this year, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. Porcello will make about $12.2MM this year, based on MLBTR’s projections, and then he’ll be eligible for free agency. With his age (he’ll be 27) and history, he could be in for a huge payday if he has a good year, even with a crowded 2015-16 free agent market that also looks to include David Price, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann and Jeff Samardzija.

Quick Hits: McClellan, Aoki, Young, Robertson

Former Cardinals and Rangers reliever Kyle McClellan has officially announced his retirement.  In a message on his Facebook page, McClellan explained that he was told that his shoulder simply hadn’t recovered well enough following surgery, so he decided to hang up his glove after six Major League seasons.  McClellan posted a 3.79 ERA over 387 1/3 career innings from 2008-13, spending five seasons with St. Louis (winning a World Series ring in 2011) and one in Texas.  We at MLBTR wish McClellan all the best in his retirement and congratulations on a nice career.

Here’s some news from around the baseball world…

  • The Orioles have “limited” interest in Nori Aoki, a source tells MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko.  With the O’s linked to such bigger-name free agent and trade targets as Melky Cabrera, Justin Upton and Matt Kemp, it’s safe to presume that Aoki could be more of a backup plan for the Orioles if they can’t land any of those other outfielders.
  • The Mariners‘ acquisition of J.A. Happ from the Blue Jays probably ends any chance of Chris Young returning to Seattle’s rotation, MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes as part of a reader mailbag.
  • An increasing number of agents are privately saying that they would’ve advised David Robertson to accept the Yankees’ qualifying offer, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets.  I can’t say I agree with the agents’ opinions, since it’s not like the draft pick compensation tied to Robertson via the QO has hurt his market; the closer has reportedly already received a three-year, $39MM offer and several executives think he’ll find a deal in the four-year, $50MM range.
  • Florida high schooler Brendan Rodgers holds the #1 spot on MLB.com’s rankings of the top 50 2015 draft prospects, MLB.com’s Jim Callis writes.  Rodgers, a shortstop, heads a class that still contains a lot of question marks, according to one AL scouting executive.  “It’s just wide open right now, especially at the top.  There are some nice players, but there’s a lot of gray area. There are just no elite guys who completely stand out. There’s not as much upside at the top as the past few drafts,” the executive said.
  • Former big leaguer Rico Brogna is now working as the Angels‘ quality control coach, somewhat of a troubleshooting position he tells Fangraphs’ David Laurila combines both traditional scouting analysis with advanced metrics to give his team a complete overview of a player’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Will Middlebrooks doesn’t have an obvious role on the 2015 Red Sox roster, but the third baseman tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald that he’s working to get healthy and wants to stay with the Sox.  “I understand the moves they had to make,” Middlebrooks said.  “For the organization we are, we have to win next year. Everyone knows that. They had to make some moves. I was hurt, been hurt a lot. You can’t rely on that.”

2015 MLB Draft Order

Now that the 2014 regular season has come to an end, here’s the order for the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft. The order is determined in reverse order of regular season record, with ties being broken by record from the previous season. Teams are also compensated for failing to sign first-round picks from previous years. In 2015, the only team to receive an extra pick in the first 30 is Houston, which will get the No. 2 overall pick for failing to sign Brady Aiken this year.

Much about the draft order remains to be determined, given the impact that qualifying offers will have on the ultimate order. This year, the first 11 picks are protected, meaning that teams cannot lose those picks for signing free agents who have been extended qualifying offers. That means the Cubs, Phillies and Reds have protected picks, while the Marlins, Padres and Rays do not.

1. Diamondbacks
2. Astros (for failure to sign 2014 No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken)
3. Rockies
4. Rangers
5. Astros
6. Twins
7. Red Sox
8. White Sox
9. Cubs
10. Phillies
11. Reds
12. Marlins
13. Padres
14. Rays
15. Mets
16. Braves
17. Brewers
18. Blue Jays
19. Yankees
20. Indians
21. Mariners
22. Giants
23. Pirates
24. Athletics
25. Royals
26. Tigers
27. Cardinals
28. Dodgers
29. Orioles
30. Nationals
31. Angels

Here’s Compensation Round A, which follows the first round. Unlike regular draft picks, Compensation Round picks can be traded.

32. Astros (via Marlins)
33. Rockies
34. Cardinals
35. Brewers
36. Padres
37. Indians

The Reds, Red Sox (via the Athletics), Mariners, Twins, Orioles and Diamondbacks, respectively, own picks in Comp Round B, which will come after the second round.


Phil Bickford To Pitch For Southern Nevada

Former Blue Jays top draft pick Phil Bickford will pitch for the College of Southern Nevada this season, MLB.com’s Jim Callis reports. The move to a two-year college will officially make Bickford eligible for next year’s draft. CSN is already known in baseball circles for being the school attended by 2010 top overall pick Bryce Harper.

The Jays took Bickford tenth overall out of high school in 2013, but the two sides couldn’t agree to a deal, and Bickford headed to Cal State Fullerton. His stock improved this summer after showing great stuff in the Cape Cod League, and he currently appears likely to go even higher than tenth overall next time he’s draft eligible — Callis notes that Bickford could be a candidate to go first overall. Had Bickford gone back to Cal State Fullerton, he would not have been eligible for the draft until 2016.

He had the best arm in the league,” says John Schiffner, an opposing Cape Cod manager. “He threw one of our guys a slider in a big situation, and three kids’ knees buckled in our dugout. And that’s not even his best pitch, because we saw 97 mph.”