It’s still too early to get a good sense of how far first-round talents might drop because of signability. As of now, the three most likely candidates for a significant plunge are Cartersville (Ga.) HS outfielder Donavan Tate, Westminster Christian Academy (St. Louis) righthander Jacob Turner and Klein HS (Spring, Texas) lefty Matthew Purke.
Tate, the best high school position player and top athlete in the draft, has more leverage than most draftees. In addition to his considerable ceiling in baseball, he’s also a football star who has committed to play both sports at North Carolina. He’s the son of former NFL running back Lars Tate. Teams believe it may take $6 million to sign Tate, though MLB rules for two-sport athletes would allow a club to spread that money over as many as five years.
The Scott Boras Corp. is advising both Tate and Turner, currently the highest-rated prep pitcher on Baseball America’s work-in-progress Top 200 Prospects list. Clubs think that Turner, who has been touching 97-98 mph with his fastball and backing it up with an overpowering curveball recently, will seek a $7 million payday. That would match the largest guarantee ever given to a high schooler, as both Josh Beckett (Marlins, 1999) and Rick Porcello (Tigers, 2007) signed big league deals for that amount. Porcello is another Boras client. Like Tate, Turner has committed to North Carolina
Purke, who ranks right behind Capistrano Valley HS (Mission Viejo, Calif.) ace Tyler Matzek as the top high school lefties in the draft, is advised by Peter Vescovo’s Select Sports Group. It may take a big league contract equivalent to what the elite college pitchers usually get ($3 million bonus, $5 million total value) to sign Purke away from Texas Christian.
From information we’ve been able to piece together, it appears that MLB will maintain the status quo with its recommendations for bonus slots. (Estimates of those slots for 2008 are available here.)
Though the declining economy may lead to teams being more financially conservative this summer after spending a record $188 million on the draft in 2008. When MLB tried to slash slots by 10 percent in 2007, holdouts increased and bonuses rose over 2006 levels anyway.
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