The Padres and third-rounder Cole Wilcox are in agreement on a $3.3MM signing bonus, MLB.com’s Jim Callis reports (on Twitter). With the deal, Wilcox, a right-hander out of the University of Georgia, receives a record bonus for a third-round pick and absolutely shatters his slot value of $767,800.
Entering the draft, Wilcox was widely regarded as a potential first-round talent, but as a draft-eligible sophomore, he had some leverage working in his favor. Concerns over signability might’ve caused some clubs to pass, and the fact that Wilcox’s eventual bonus aligns closely with what would’ve been Top 20 slot money illustrates the difficulties other teams may have had in hammering out a deal. The Padres signed top pick Robert Hassell III nearly $900K under-slot, though, and they also “saved” $450K on third-rounder Owen Caissie and fourth-rounder Levi Weaver alike.
Wilcox, 20, ranked inside the draft’s 25 best prospects in the opinion of The Athletic’s Keith Law (No. 14), FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen (No. 18), ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel (No. 23) and the team at MLB.com (No. 23) and Baseball America (No. 24). Wilcox’s fastball reached 100 mph in a bullpen role and sat mid- to upper-90s as a starter, Law notes. He also has the makings of a pair of above-average offspeed pitches, with his slider ahead of his changeup by most counts (although Callis & Co. believe the opposite to be the case in their report).
As with any pitching prospect, there are some red flags — notably Wilcox’s at-times spotty command — but his 6’5″, 232-pound frame and arsenal of power offerings are enough for Padres fans to dream on as the organization adds yet another high-end talent to its minor league ranks.