Time to take our amateur signing bonus series to Motown…
- Jacob Turner, $4.7MM (2009)
- Rick Porcello, $3.58MM (2007)
- Andrew Miller, $3.55MM (2006)
- Eric Munson, $3.5MM (1999)
- Nick Castellanos, $3.45MM (2010)
Turner, a Scott Boras client and the ninth overall pick in the 2009 draft, received what was then the largest bonus ever given to a high school pitcher. The total value of his big league contract is $5.5MM with the potential to be worth $7MM. He spent his first pro season in Single-A, and is the team's best prospect thanks to a 3.28 ERA, 8.0 K/9, and 1.8 BB/9 in 115.1 innings.
Before there was Turner there was Porcello, who matched Josh Beckett for the most guaranteed money ever given to a high school arm ($7MM). He reached the majors after just one season in the minors, and has a 4.43 ERA with 2.1 BB/9 and 4.7 K/9 in 333.1 innings for the Tigers. Castellanos was the 44th overall pick this year, and his bonus is the largest ever given to a player outside of the first round. He started his career with a .333/.414/.417 performance in 29 rookie ball plate appearances.
Miller was the consensus top talent in the 2006 draft, but lasted until the sixth pick because of bonus demands. The Tigers were happy to pay him, but they rushed him to the big leagues later that year. Miller posted a 5.69 ERA in 74.1 innings for the Tigers before being traded to Marlins in December 2007 as part of the package for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.
Munson was the third overall pick in the 1999 draft after a monster collegiate career at USC. His bonus was the franchise record for close to a decade before Porcello came along. Munson received 885 plate appearances for the Tigers from 2000-2004, hitting just .215/.287/.414 along the way. He was granted his release after the 2004 season, and has bounced from team to team ever since.
Amazingly, this list doesn't including Kyle Sleeth (third overall in 2003) and Justin Verlander (second overall in 2004), who received $3.35MM and $3.12MM bonuses, respectively. The Tigers aren't shy about spending on young players, that's for sure.
Wonder what type of players Nick C and Turner will be.
Right now just based on Top 5s, I’d roughly rank them in the order of DBacks, Orioles, Reds, Tigers, Boston. Or something like that. Don’t hold me to that, I did it totally unscientifically. Also, as you hint at, if these lists were expanded to Top 10 bonuses, then the Tigers would likely move ahead.
It makes sense that the Tigers started making a concerted push earlier this decade. This list says as much, and, it really shows in the major-league level. Remember that there was a Tigers season earlier this decade that was in contention for being a worst team ever. The Os look like they are making a similar push ever since MacPhail has taken charge behind Wieters, Machado, and Matusz signings, all of which are some type of respective franchise records in consecutive years.