Draft Preview: Take it Away, Sam

Friday, May 11 2012 @ 11:20 PM EDT

Contributed by: Anders

Bauxite Sam posted this in Vince Horsman thread, and it seems well timed so we're going to put it up here. Note to all, see the contact us link just under logo at the top of the page for information on how to submit a pinch hit. Thanks Sam.

The Rule Four Draft or Amateur Draft or First-Year-Player Draft is around the corner and many baseball media outlets have started to ramp up their coverage of the event. The draft is for amateur high school and college players from colleges in Canada, the U.S., and Puerto Rico. On June 4, 2012 at 8pm round one will take place. Rounds two to fifteen will take place on June 5, 2012, and rounds sixteen to forty will take place the following day on June 6, 2012. As I'm sure many here are aware, much of the change in the collective bargaining agreement between players and owners focused on changing the rules around the draft. There is now a very strict limit on the bonuses teams are allowed to offer amateur players. Teams work off a "bonus pool" for picks from rounds one to ten. This bonus pool is based on draft order and number of picks. The other change and perhaps most welcome one is the advancement of the signing deadline. The deadline which used to be in August and effectively prevented newly signed players from appearing in competitive games and tormented fans for two months of will he-won't he sign has now been moved up to July 13, 2012. Hurrah for that!

This will also be the last draft of obscene compensation rounds as a result of new changes in the CBA around free agent compensation. Anyways let's get to the Jays. The Jays have the 17th and 22nd picks in the first round. The thing to remember here, that 22nd pick is unprotected and compensation for the Jays failing to sign Tyler Beede in last years draft. Meaning whoever the Jays draft with that pick and if he does not sign, the Jays will not receive further compensation for said pick. The Jays have three compensation picks at 50, 58, and 60. They have the 80th pick in the second round. The 111th in the third. The 144th in fouth and so on. So the Jays have some picks to work with. 

22 (unprotected)

So seven picks in three rounds. Not too shabby. Now, the Jays have fourteen picks in the first ten rounds and according to the new rules that means they have $8,830,800 to pay these fourteen picks. The penalties for going over this amount by even the slightest of numbers are fairly steep. If we exceed that bonus allotment by 0-5% we pay a 75% tax on that overage, 5-10% over and we pay a 75% tax and lose a future first rounder, and 10-15% over and we 100% tax on the overage and lose both a first rounder and second rounder, and 15% or more and we lose two first rounders and pay a 100% tax on the overage. So if you're going over the bonus pool the guy better be The Natural. 


14 picks, $8,830,800 to work with are the numbers to remember. Note that all players signed must be signed to minor league deals and MLB baseball has been vocal that teams looking to subvert these new rules will be penalized heavily. Picks after round ten do not count against the bonus pool provided their bonuses are under $100,000. If they are over they go towards the pool. I imagine there might be a lot of players signing for $99,999. 

Now people might thing these new signing bonus rules will serious hamstring the Jays are their ability to bring in talent. I don't think anyone really knows what's going to happen here, but do keep in mind that last year the Jays spent $8,990,000 in the first ten rounds, which is not far off the allotment they have this year. Granted they didn't sign all their players, they did however bring in some talent and have one of the higher ranked drafts by experts. 

Hopefully this clarifies some of the rules for Jays' fans. The Jays do have one of the higher bonus pools (fifth highest) and are tied with the Padres and Cardinals for having the most picks in the first ten rounds. So this will be an active draft for the Jays. The draft itself is reported to be one of the weaker drafts in recent memory. In particular, scouts and management with intimate understanding of the draft class say the group of college hitters is the weakest they've seen in some twenty years, due in large part to the high bonuses given out to high schools players in past years. There really isn't a clear cut no. 1 as there has been in recent years, and a lot of guys who could go anywhere from no. 5 to no. 50. So mocking this draft, which is usually a fool's errand when it comes to the MLB draft anyways, is perhaps even harder this year. There is also another issue to consider with this draft class. A lot of the high school prospects who would have gotten their million dollar bonus in later rounds in the past might not this time around. So picking that high schooler in round two or three and offering him a couple hundred thousand might not fly if they think they can go to college and have a shot at the top ten after their junior years. So it will be interesting to follow the signing rate of players. This new CBA could really blow up if kids are simply not signing out of high school. 

Now the draft has a lot of high school prospects with one or two plus tools and and average or below average other tools. There are a lot of high school outfielders with plus speed and plus arms, or plus speed and plus power, but limited hit tools or raw defense. In essence, this is really a scout's draft, especially so with the new rules. That should bode well for the Jays and their beefed up scouting department. I imagine the Jays could go a number of ways with their early picks. One option, and the most likely, they simply select the best player on their board when they pick. That philosophy or plan may not fly given the new rules and I imagine the Jays have a much more dynamic board that divides and ranks players based on signability as well as talent and projection. Another option, a player like Lucas Giolito falls due to injury concern (strained elbow ligaments) and the Jays select him with their 22 pick and use the bonus they've allotted to picks 17 and 22 solely on Giolito and take the compensation--no. 18 in 2013. Note that in the Jays fail to sign any of thei picks in the first two rounds (including compensation), with the exception of the unprotected 22 pick, they'll receive the same pick one slot later in next year's draft. Such a strategy for Giolito is quite risky. 

As I mentioned earlier, the usual baseball outlets have started to publish various mock drafts and scouting reports on the consensus top prospects this year. For example, Baseball America thinks the Jays will continue to select high school toolsy players. They have the Jays taking Lance McCullers Jr. with the 17th pick who last year was projected to be in the discussion at no. 1. McCullers has a dynamic fastball-slider combo and a max effort delivery. The fastball sits upper-nineties. He apparently has very good mound presence and many scouts project an elite backend bullpen arm if he can't put together the repertoire for starting. He fits the projectable elite tools player the Jays have previously drafted, as well as a player who has been on the "scene" for a while the Jays have drafted in the past as well--see Tolisano, Lopes, etc. He's out of Florida where the Jays have one of their best amateur scouts Tyler Pastornicky's dad. So put all that together and there's a good link. The other fellow BA mocks to the Jays at 22 is DJ Davis. Davis is a late bloomer on the draft scene, well in terms of being on the draft scene for media outlets as I'm sure scouts have been "in" on him for a while. Davis is one of those toolsy HS outfielders with very good speed (some scouts say plus-plus) and a developing hit tool and power potential. He projects to be a good leadoff hitter. Davis hails from Mississippi and several of this years elite high school players reside in the deep south. Dana Brown who is another of the Jays very respected amateur evaluators, and apparently a very nice man, was recently down there to do some last minute evaluations of the crop. Some other names that may entice the Jays as projectable, toolsy players who for some reason or another may fall to the Jays:

Lucas Giolito

An elite right handed high school arm. Very clean mechanics, good body, projectable, and already elite stuff. Has drawn Roy Halladay comparisons. Fastball apparently touching 100mph this spring before being shut down with a strained UCL in his throwing elbow. Has started a throwing program, although the injury coupled with the bonus demands might have already scared off teams outside of the top five or ten. Curveball too is something special and both fastball and curveball have reportedly received 70 grades. 

Marcus Stromen

Duke right hander has just this year dedicated himself exclusively to pitching. Is short at 5'9, but more than makes up for it with a dynamic fastball/slider combo and a developing change-up. Flash Gordon is a name that you will see consistently referenced when talking about Stromen, and while his ultimate destination may be in the backend of a bullpen I'm sure the team that drafts him will hope to develop him as a starter...unless the White Sox draft him. The chances of him making it to the Jays are slim, but he'd be good value in my opinion at either 17 or 22. 

Deven Marrero 

Marrero is another one of those guys consistently spoken of in the discussion for no. 1 leading up this year, however, he has statistically not improved since his rather sensational freshman year at ASU. Marrero is a short stop through and through and will stick there and play excellent defense. He is reported to have good baseball instincts and leadership abilities. His bat, however, is where the questions start. Apparently there are moving parts galore and serious questions whether he'll be able to hit enough to warrant an everyday place in the big leagues. A guy who has been around for a while for scouts and is one of those baseball "rats" every good team needs. A solid pick. 

Gavin Cecchini

A big-body HS short stop with good baseball bloodlines as his brother is currently a prospect in the Red Sox system. Good athlete with potential to stick at SS and projection to develop physically and into an elite player. He might not have the defensive projection of Marrero, but he shouldn't be a slouch at SS and brings a lot more stick to the table. The potential he might fall to one of the Jays' picks is slim. 

Victor Roache

One of the rare elite college hitting prospects. Did a number to his wrist earlier this year and as a result has not played much. Is a real physical specimen and lit-up the Cape Cod League last summer. Power is his calling card and apparently it is something to behold, although questions undoubtedly will be raised considering the injury. He's got adequate range and arm to play an outfield corner and will likely sign quickly. In my mind the system needs a bat like Roache's. I think he would be a very good pick in the first round. 

While there are a number of high school arms, one sticks out the most to me. 

Matt Smoral

Smoral is a big (6'8) lefty with good projectability and athleticism. He features a good fastball (90-94) and a wipe out slider. Apparently he shows OK command and tends to miss low in the zone. The delivery looks clean. He had injury issues with his foot which is a bad omen for a guy his size, but there is projection there and athleticism. 

There are others I like, and others linked to the Jays. Below are links to draft info. They probably tell it better than I did. 

BA's first mock


Baseball Prospect Nation's Most Recent Mock


MLB.com's list of prospects


Seedlings to Stars Mock


Some info on the bonus pools


The draft order


The CBA and rules regarding the rule four draft