Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports advocates for a modification to the draft slotting system, suggesting that the current incentives are tilted too strongly in favor of trying to achieve the first-overall pick and its attendant bonus. He cites the fact that the gap between the pool allotment for the first choice and the tenth in the coming draft has grown by over $1MM from what it was when the new rules went in place back in 2012. It seems fair to point out that the relative difference in slot value — 62.5% — remains constant, though of course it’s still certainly arguable that tweaks could reduce any urge to race to the bottom.
Here are some prospect notes from around the league:
- With the top draft choice and a big bonus pool available this summer, the Phillies face a critical decision, and the organization won’t be making it without intense preparation. New Jersey high-school lefty Jacob Groome has received plenty of attention from around the game, and Philadelphia intends to watch every single one of his starts, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Indeed, GM Matt Klentak was on hand for Groome’s first outing of the year, as were ESPN.com’s Keith Law and Eric Longenhagen (Insider link), who were impressed by the young southpaw’s three-pitch mix — in particular, his polished curveball. While it’s rare to see high school hurlers go 1-1, it seems Groome has a chance to become only fourth to receive that honor.
- The Mariners have taken the unusual step of opening prospect Alex Jackson in extended Spring Training, as Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper writes. While the 20-year-old struggled quite a bit at the Class A level, Cooper says it’s still a nearly-unprecedented move. Seattle farm chief Andy McKay explains that Jackson impressed in camp, but nevertheless will await promotion until his “performance is consistent and predictable and a foundation of the work ethic is beneath it.” The organization is attempting to instill a philosophy in which “your performance will dictate the level you play at,” adds McKay.
- As Cooper further writes, slow progress up the organizational chain is generally not a good sign for prospects. While it takes quite a bit more than lower-level success to make a big league career, delayed promotion timelines often reflect other failures in development that are reflected in the future.
- Cooper also takes an extended look at an extensively-rebuilt Braves’ system. While the trades have garnered much of the attention — and succeeded in filling the minor-league ranks with a variety of intriguing talents — the organization has also brought back many familiar faces to its staff. GM John Coppolella says that the club “took a short view for too long,” particularly in the pitching department. “Frontline starting pitching—that’s what we lacked,” Coppolella said. “We had good pitching, but not great pitching.” Cooper details the combination of upside, risk, and volume percolating upward in a lengthy piece that’s essential reading for Atlanta fans.
- Young lefty Kolby Allard is one notable arm on the Braves’ farm, and he’s steadily but surely working to return from back surgery, as MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. The hope is that he’ll be ready to begin facing live hitters later this month and make it to the low minors in late May, but the organization is taking things slowly. “I feel better than what they are letting me do, but I’ve just got to trust the process,” Allard said. “I wish I could be out there earlier, but I’ve just got to trust [the Braves’ medical staff] and what they’re doing.”
- Meanwhile, top young Royals righty Kyle Zimmer is experiencing shoulder issues this spring and will be delayed in reporting to Triple-A, as MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports. Kansas City is expressing an optimistic view of things, but will obviously exercise caution after Zimmer showed a sudden velocity dip late in camp — particularly given his preexisting medical history. Assistant GM J.J. Picollo explains: “He needs more time before he’s ready to get out. [His] shoulder has been a little erratic — some great days and some so-so days, so we slowed him up.”