The Indians have agreed to terms with first-round pick Will Benson on a $2.5MM signing bonus, reports Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com (via Twitter). That figure comes in $473,700 south of the No. 14 slot’s assigned value, so Cleveland will pick up some savings that can be applied further down its draft board.
A high school outfielder out of Georgia, Benson entered the draft ranked as the No. 30 prospect on Baseball America’s Top 500 list. He placed 38th on the Top 200 from Mayo and colleague Jim Callis over at MLB.com, and ESPN’s Keith Law had him rated 41st on his Top 100 ranking. The 6’6″, 220-pound Benson has “arguably the best bat speed in the class” and plus-plus raw power, per BA’s scouting report. He also has a strong arm and plus speed but is described by BA as a “boom or bust” prospect due to an aggressive approach at the plate. ESPN’s Eric Longenhagen writes that Benson’s swing has “considerable effort” and writes that a player of his size will almost certainly have to move to first base as he continues to fill out. MLB.com writes that he didn’t have a great spring and often tries to do too much at the plate, but he has plenty of offensive upside.
Cleveland entered the draft with a total signing pool of $7,499,600 (via Callis at MLB.com), so the Benson savings will amount to about six percent of their entire pool, and they’ll be left with just a hair under $5MM to allocate to the remainder of their picks. Those savings could be allocated in large part to second-round pick Nolan Jones — a high school third baseman and Virgina commit that was projected by some to go in the first round but slid to Cleveland at No. 55 overall.