2015 Amateur Draft Rumors

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.”


Quick Hits: Velocity, Clark, 2015 Draft, Astros, Pirates

The introduction and development of the radar gun has had a profound effect on baseball, Danny Knobler explores in a piece for Bleacher Report. Pitching speed has always been recognized as a key tool, but its increasing standardization in measurement and emphasis in amateur scouting has played an undeniable role in the velocity explosion at all levels. Speed readings deliver valuable information and come with some downsides, but for better or worse the gun’s influence will continue. Here are a few more interesting recent articles from around the web:

  • Matt Clark‘s decision to gamble a bit and opt out of his minor league deal with the Mets has paid huge dividends for the 27-year-old journeyman, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Now with the Brewers, Clark says he sensed that there was little chance he’d be promoted and elected free agency in June. Bob Skube, Milwaukee’s Triple-A hitting coach, was Clark’s hitting coach with the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate at one point and made a pitch for the organization to pursue him when Nashville first baseman Hunter Morris broke his arm. Clark, who spent last season in Japan and had never cracked a big league roster, hit his way to a September callup and has homered in two straight games.
  • Prospect watchers have begun to turn their attention to the 2015 amateur draft, so let’s take a look at the latest. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs provides a “way-too-early” list of the top 51 prospects, along with some other names to watch. Sitting atop the ranking is high school shortstop and FSU commit Brendan Rogers, with last year’s first overall choice — the unsigned and possibly JuCo-bound Brady Aiken — right behind him.
  • Looking back at recent draft choices, Baseball America’s John Manuel writes that the Astros will need to go to work developing Mark Appel and the recently-acquired Colin Moran to avoid a lot of hard questions about the decision to pass on Kris Bryant last year. Given Moran’s skillset — hard work, polished approach, and quick hands, but not the power and athleticism of Bryant — his best-case scenario might be to join the trajectory of Kyle Seager, says Manuel.
  • The Pirates have enjoyed a distinctive advantage this year in losing few player days to the DL, writes Ben Lindbergh of Grantland. Manager Clint Hurdle praised the team’s strength and conditioning staff, though he admitted he wasn’t sure that there was any one thing the Pirates are doing better than rival clubs. Still, players such as Chris Stewart, Neil Walker and Russell Martin all praised strength and conditioning coach Brendon Huttman. GM Neal Huntington wouldn’t comment on any specific tactics that might be ahead of the curve, stating, “I’d prefer to leave that behind the curtain.”
  • Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports examines the journey of former Arizona State and Notre Dame head coach Pat Murphy, who has transitioned to managing the Padres’ Triple-A club after a controversial exit to his NCAA career. Murphy’s intensity is said to be toned down, and Brown spoke with numerous players who lauded Murphy as one of the best managers they’ve ever had. Veteran reliever Blaine Boyer ranked Murphy alongside Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Bud Black. Brown, like many of Murphy’s players, is of the opinion that the 55-year-old Murphy could eventually be a big league manager.

Phil Bickford Leaving Cal State Fullerton, Eyeing 2015 Draft

8:51pm: In a full article, Rogers provides a bit more detail of the situation, noting that Bickford also dominated the Cape Cod League this summer and was named Perfect Game Summer Player of the Year. Rogers notes that he showed a much-improved changeup and slider over the summer and would rather test the waters of the MLB draft now than wait two more years by remaining at Cal State Fullerton.

7:23pm: Aaron Fitt of Baseball America hears that junior college is more likely for Bickford (Twitter link). Either way, this appears to be a clear indicator that Bickford is focused on entering next year’s draft and beginning his pro career.

7:00pm: Former first-round pick Phil Bickford, who elected not to sign with the Blue Jays as the No. 10 overall pick in the 2013 draft, will not return to Cal State Fullerton for his sophomore season and is strongly considering pitching in independent ball, according to Kendall Rogers of PerfectGameUSA.com (Twitter links). Such a move would allow Bickford to be eligible for the 2015 draft. Bickford could consider transferring to a junior college as well, which would also allow him to file for next year’s draft.

Now 19 years old (he will turn 20 next July), Bickford did little to harm his draft stock in what looks to be his lone year with the Titans. He fired 76 innings and turned in a 2.13 ERA with a 74-to-13 K/BB ratio. Bickford shot up draft boards heading into the 2013 draft. ESPN’s Keith Law noted at the time of the draft that he sat 90-93 mph with his fastball and touched 96 with a great pitcher’s frame, but his lack of a breaking ball was a red flag.

Bickford reportedly turned down more than $2MM from the Blue Jays, who received the No. 11 pick in this year’s draft as compensation for failing to sign him. Toronto selected Tommy John inflicted right-hander Jeff Hoffman and Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost with the No. 9 and 11 picks in this year’s first round.


Quick Hits: Draft, Astros, Lester, Souza

Since next year’s amateur draft will be the 50th June draft, Baseball America’s John Manuel thinks MLB should use the milestone to make changes to the draft’s structure.  Manuel’s suggestions include moving the draft to All-Star week, shortening it to 20 rounds and implementing a standardized pre-draft physical for every player that would help avoid another Brady Aiken situation.  Testing would take place during “a medical combine” that would get official gauges on other measurable physical skills and baseball abilities.

Here are some notes from around the sport…

  • The Astros will have a hard time finding 40-man roster spots for all of their promising Rule 5 draft-eligible prospects, Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper writes.  One interesting facet of the Jarred Cosart trade with the Marlins, Cooper notes, was that Houston freed up two extra 40-man roster spaces for use this winter.
  • The perception that Jon Lester and the Red Sox have some sort of tacit agreement that the southpaw will re-sign with the team this winter is “amusing,” ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in his latest Insider-only column.  Such an agreement would require a lot of trust between both sides, and after the way the Sox approached negotiations with their former ace, “the Lester-Red Sox relationship degraded into a business transaction.”  This doesn’t necessarily mean Lester won’t re-sign, Olney notes, just that Boston will need to greatly increase their contract offer in the offseason.
  • Also from Olney’s column, he lists nine starters who the Red Sox could pursue in trades this winter since the free agent pitching options (and/or prices) may not be to Boston’s liking.
  • When the Nationals were trying to acquire a reliever before the deadline, several teams asked for outfield Steven Souza in return, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports.  Souza, who received his second big league call-up today, has posted huge numbers in each of his last three minor league seasons, including a .354/.435/.601 slash line with 18 homers and 24 steals (of 31 chances) in 386 PA for Triple-A Syracuse this year.

2015 Competitive Balance Lottery Results

The Competitive Balance Lottery for the 2015 MLB Draft took place this afternoon. Twelve competitive balance picks are awarded, with the first six taking place after the first round’s conclusion and the next six taking place following conclusion of the second round. Here are the results, per MLB.com (Twitter links)…

Competitive Balance Round A

  1. Marlins
  2. Rockies
  3. Cardinals
  4. Brewers
  5. Padres
  6. Indians

Competitive Balance Round B

  1. Reds
  2. Athletics
  3. Mariners
  4. Twins
  5. Orioles
  6. Diamondbacks

As MLB.com’s Jim Callis explained earlier in the week, teams that have one of the 10 smallest markets or one of the 10 smallest revenue pools are eligible to receive a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds (Round A) or between the second and third rounds (Round B).

The A’s, Diamondbacks, Indians, Marlins, Orioles, Padres, Pirates, Rays, Reds, Rockies and Royals were eligible for Comp Round A picks. The teams that didn’t receive an extra pick from that pool were placed into a second pool that also included the Mariners and Twins to determine which would receive a Comp Round B selection. These picks are eligible to be traded any time during the regular season, right up until 5pm ET on the day of next year’s draft.