By Mike Kanen
For the second consecutive summer, the Breakthrough Series was hosted by USA Baseball in Cary, N.C. after a two-year term at the Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif. Once again, the event was a rousing success.
Since its inception in 2008, the Breakthrough Series has served as an opportunity for many kids in urban areas around the country to showcase their skills in front of college recruiters and major league scouts that may not get a chance to see them play otherwise. This year, 80 players were selected to compete in the event by the Urban Youth Academy, Major League Scouting Bureau, Mentoring Viable Prospects (MVP) and Chicago White Sox. The four organizations competed in a round-robin tournament from Monday through Thursday.
In the championship contest, MVP dominated the White Sox, 17-2, scoring 11 runs in the second inning. The game was played at Durham Bulls Athletic Park and will be aired on MLB Network at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 30. [...] Continue Reading »
The Blue Jays announced Wednesday that they had signed second-round pick Jeremy Gabryszwski. He received a $575,000 bonus, which exceeded MLB's $463,500 recommendation for the 78th overall pick. It's the highest bonus so far outside of the first and supplemental first rounds.
A righthander from Crosby (Texas) HS, Gabryszwski flashed a 92-94 mph fastball and an plus slider early in the spring but didn't maintain that stuff throughout his senior season. He had committed to Lamar.
Toronto had seven of the first 78 picks in the draft and spent them all on high schoolers. First-rounder Tyler Beede, sandwich picks Jacob Anderson, Dwight Smith Jr. and Kevin Comer and second-rounder Daniel Norris remain unsigned. The Jays also have yet to sign their eight choices in the first 10 rounds after Gabryszwski.
The Yankees and 14th-round pick Rookie Davis have agreed to terms on a $550,000 bonus, the largest outside of the third round thus far this year.
A righthander from Dixon HS (Holly Ridge, N.C.), Davis has an 89-92 mph fastball and a promising curveball. Strongly built at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, he also offers significant power potential as a righthanded-hitting first baseman. He had committed to East Carolina.
The Rays and third-round pick Johnny Eierman have agreed to terms on a $550,000 bonus. He joins Twins third-rounder Corey Williams as the only players to have doubled MLB's slot recommendations so far. The commissioner's office's guideline for Eierman's No. 119 draft slot is $250,000.
Eierman was one of the better athletes available in the 2011 draft, with well above-average bat speed and foot speed. A shortstop at Warsaw (Mo.) High, he'll probably have to find a new position as a pro, most likely third base or center field. He had committed to Louisiana State.
Aug. 1 update: Under draft provisions for two-sport athletes, Tampa Bay will spread Eierman's bonus over five years. The net present value of his bonus is $498,521.
The Twins have signed third-round pick Corey Williams for $575,000. Williams received the highest bonus of any player after the supplemental first round so far this year, and becomes the first player in the top five rounds to more than double MLB guidelines for his draft slot. The commissioner's office recommends a $254,700 bonus for the No. 117 pick.
A lefthander who helped pitched Vanderbilt to its first-ever College World Series appearance in 2011, Williams is a redshirt sophomore whose fastball peaks at 94 mph.
The Diamondbacks today signed Trevor Bauer, the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, to a four-year major league contract worth a guaranteed $4.45 million. The deal includes a $3.4 million bonus and a potential value of slightly over $7 million. The net present value of the deal is $4,352,554.
MLB's recommended bonus for the third overall choice is estimated as $3 million. Bauer is the first player from among the top nine selections in this year's draft to have come to terms.
Baseball America's College Player of the Year Award and USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Award, Bauer went 13-2, 1.25 with a Pacific-10 Conference-record 203 strikeouts in 137 innings this spring. He led NCAA Division I in whiffs for the second straight season and set UCLA career records for wins (34) and strikeouts (460 in 373 innings).
Bauer had the deepest repertoire of any pitcher in the draft, featuring a 91-96 mph fastball, sharp curveball and plus changeup while mixing in a splitter and two versions of a slider. He could be the first player from this draft to reach the majors, and it's not out of the question that he could help Arizona in the stretch drive this year.
"September is not unrealistic. It's a definite possibility," said Jerry DiPoto, Diamondbacks executive vice president for scouting and player development. "It's not something we promised him but it's something we've discussed. We believe it's possible. He believes it's possible.
"Is it likely? We'll see. As he said during the press conference, he has no expectation of it. He wants to go out and earn it. A guaranteed callup doesn't exist. At the same time, the value of Trevor is so much more than the value of what he could do in September. We're not going to take any chances."
As reported by BA correspondent Jack Magruder (FoxSportsArizona.com), Bauer will begin his pro career with a two-inning start for high Class A Visalia on Saturday.
The Athletics have signed first-round pick Sonny Gray for $1.54 million. He becomes just the eighth of the 33 first-rounders to sign, and only the third to exceed MLB's bonus recommendations. The guideline for his No. 18 slot is $1,422,000.
Gray will spend a week at the A's spring-training complex in Phoenix before heading to Double-A Midland. Much like fellow Vanderbilt first-rounders David Price and Mike Minor, he probably won't require much minor league seasoning before reaching the majors.
Though he's only 5-foot-11, Gray had arguably the best fastball-curveball combo in the draft. A righthander, he works from 90-95 mph and touches 97 with his fastball, and his power curve can be just as devastating.
Supplemental first-rounder Michael Fulmer Tweeted (via @MFulmer12) on June 23 that he had reached an agreement with the Mets. Nearly a month later, he officially signed with the team for $937,500.
That amount is more than any other deal outside of the first round so far, and in excess of the commissioner's office's $776,700 guideline for the 44th overall pick.
Fulmer was part of an outstanding crop of Oklahoma high school pitchers led by top-seven-overall picks Dylan Bundy (Orioles, No. 4) and Archie Bradley (Diamondbacks, No. 7). A product of Edmond's Deer Creek HS, Fulmer is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound righthander with a mid-90s fastball and a hard slider. He was a member of Arkansas' recruiting class.
The Phillies have signed 11th-round pick Tyler Greene for $375,000, the highest bonus outside of the first three rounds thus far in the 2011 draft. His bonus is equivalent to third-round money.
A shortstop from West Boca Raton (Fla.) HS, Greene has impressive speed and athleticism, though he has been inconsistent at the plate and in the field. His brother Chase is an outfielder in the Mets system. Tyler had committed to Georgia.
I just finished putting together our annual bonuses vs. slots chart, which subscribers can access here. We'll continue to update the chart as signings warrant.
MLB recommends a specific bonus for each pick in the first five rounds, and a $150,000 maximum for all players drafted afterward. With 3½ weeks to go before the Aug. 15 signing deadline, 57 of the 82 players who have completed deals in the first five rounds agreed to bonus at or below the commissioner's office's guidelines. Of the 25 above-slot deals, only six have come in at 20 percent or more over MLB's recommendations:
Trevor Story, ss, Rockies (No. 45 overall)
$915,000 bonus vs. $764,100 slot
Kyle Crick, rhp, Giants (No. 49 overall)
$900,000 bonus vs. $717,300 slot
C.J. McElroy, of, Cardinals (No. 109 overall)
$510,000 bonus vs. $284,400 slot
Zeke DeVoss, of, Cubs (No. 98 overall)
$500,000 bonus vs. $341,100 slot
Mason Hope, rhp, Marlins (No. 163 overall)
$250,000 bonus vs. $152,100 slot
Ryan Wright, 2b, Reds (No. 45 overall)
$225,000 bonus vs. $135,900 slot
To date, four players are known to have signed for more than $200,000 after the fifth round:
Joe Tuschak, of, Mets (No. 192 overall)
Jason Creasy, rhp, Pirates (No. 242 overall)
Matt Budgell, rhp, Mets (No. 312 overall)
Tyler Collins, of, Tigers (No. 197 overall)
The Cardinals signed third-round pick C.J. McElroy on Tuesday for $510,000, the highest bonus outside of the first two rounds so far this year. McElroy, who had the leverage of a football scholarship to play wide receiver at Houston, received a bonus well in excess of MLB's $284,400 recommendation for the 109th overall choice.
An outfielder from Clear Creek High in League City, Texas, McElroy draws comparisons to Michael Bourn for his plus-plus speed and defensive prowess in center field. He shows a knack for recognizing pitches and handling quality velocity, so his bat is promising as well. He rushed for 1,523 yards and accounted for 28 touchdowns as a high school senior, and he also finished seventh at the Texas 5-A track meet in the long jump. His father Chuck pitched for nine teams in 13 major league seasons.
With four weeks remaining before the Aug. 15 signing deadline for draft picks, just seven of the 33 first-round choices had agreed to terms. Of the 181 players selected in the top five rounds, only 77 had turned pro.
Does this signal belt-tightening by the 30 clubs in the wake of total draft bonus spending rising to a record $195.8 million in 2010? Has the commissioner's office cajoled teams into heeding its bonus guidelines?
In a word, no. It's just business as usual in the fifth and final year of a collective bargaining agreement that expires in December.
Florida State lefthander Sean Gilmartin, the No. 28 overall pick, signed Thursday with the Braves for $1.134 million. That bonus matched MLB's recommendation for his draft slot.
Gilmartin was the ace of the Seminoles' super-regional team, going 12-2, 2.09 with 130 strikeouts in 120 innings. He won 33 games in three college seasons, leading Florida State in victories each year. The 6-foot-2, 192-pounder succeeds by commanding three pitches in the strike zone: an 88-91 mph fastball, an average slider and a plus changeup.
Gilmartin is the seventh first-rounder from this year's draft to sign. Last year at this time, 12 first-rounders had agreed to terms.
The Braves have now signed each of their first 13 selections, a claim no other team can make.
The Giants have signed supplemental first-round pick Kyle Crick to a $900,000 bonus. MLB's recommendation for his No. 49 draft slot was $717,300.
A product of Sherman (Texas) HS, Crick was mostly a first baseman until he started throwing a 94-mph fastball on the showcase circuit after his junior season. He pitched consistently in the low 90s and touched 97 this spring, and he also flashes a plus curveball and slider. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder needs more command and polish, not a surprise given his inexperience on the mound. He had committed to Texas Christian.
The Cubs signed third-round pick Zeke DeVoss on Wednesday for $500,000. MLB's recommendation for his No. 98 draft slot is $341,100, which DeVoss exceeded by 47 percent–the highest percentage over slot for any pick in the first five rounds so far this year.
DeVoss and sixth-rounder Neftali Rosario are the only Cubs picks in the first 15 rounds to have turned pro with a month remaining before the Aug. 15 signing deadline.
A Miami outfielder who had extra leverage as a sophomore-eligible, DeVoss stands out most for his speed and athleticism. He's an on-base machine with little power, and while he profiles as a center fielder, he rarely played there for the Hurricanes.
The Rockies finalized their deal with sandwich pick Trevor Story on Wednesday, signing him to a bonus of $915,000. That's the biggest over-slot agreement so far from the 2011 draft, nearly 20 percent more than MLB's recommendation of $764,100 for the No. 45 overall pick.
While MLB tries to get teams to delay the announcement of blockbuster deals, Story's agreement may signify that the commissioner's office will sign off on bonuses in the high six figures. The signing deadline for all draft picks is Aug. 15.
A product of Irving (Texas) HS, Story was one of the best all-around shortstops available in the draft. He has above-average speed, range and arm strength, along with more bat speed and power than most middle infielders. He had committed to Louisiana State.
The White Sox finalized their deal with top draft pick Keenyn Walker on Tuesday, signing him to a $795,000 bonus. The 47th overall selection, Walker had Tweeted (via @Keenyn_Walker) six days earlier that he had agreed to terms. His bonus exceeds MLB's $739,800 recommendation for his draft slot.
A center fielder from Central Arizona JC, Walker led all national juco players with 70 steals in 73 attempts this spring. His plus speed is his best tool, and he's also a switch-hitter with gap power and defensive skills. He turned down $250,000 as a Cubs 16th-rounder out of a Utah high school in 2009, and the Phillies selected him in the 38th round last year. He had committed to Utah for 2012.
Lighter international schedules created openings that USA Baseball needed to fill this summer, and one of its ideas was to pit its top college players against its top high school players.
The so-called Prospect Classic, a two-game series pitting the college national team against the 18-and-under national team trials roster, turned out to be such a hit, however, that it’s likely to become a fixture on the summer schedule.
"Necessity is the mother of invention sometimes," USA Baseball executive director/CEO Paul Seiler said. "So, it was just one of those things where we sat down and saw we may have a unique opportunity here to create something special." [...] Continue Reading »
Since Tuesday, the ABCL Top 20 Championships have been taking place at various fields in Southern California. The event features some of the top summer teams in the West and several players have stood out. All-Americans Showcase, a scouting partner of Baseball America, filed the following report from the final day of the event.
By Blaine Clemmens
San Bernardino, Calif. — The final day at the ABCL Top 20 Championships brought some hot weather and some tense, competitive games. Mountain West Baseball and ABD Bulldogs 2012 team advanced to face off in the finals. Ultimately the inaugural ABCL Top 20 Championships was won by ABD, 14-3.
Tanner Rahier, a 2012 shortstop/righthander from Palm Desert (Calif.) High was named tournament MVP and his teammate, 2012 lefthander Jayson Balades from Oxnard (Calif.) High was named Most Valuable Pitcher. Rahier was not only a hitting and fielding star, he also got the win on the mound in the semi-final game.
The championship game ended up being a blow out, with the mercy rule applied in the eighth inning. Rahier had a big game, going 3-for-4 with with two doubles, two runs scored and two RBIs, but it was 2012 second baseman Darian McLemore of Carroll High in Southlake, Texas who ended the game with a home run in the eighth. McLemore, whose father Mark played in the major leagues for 19 years, is a switch-hitting middle infielder with strength at the plate and a chance to hit. [...] Continue Reading »
Since Tuesday, the ABCL Top 20 Championships have been taking place at various fields in Southern California. The event features some of the top summer teams in the West and several players have stood out. All-Americans Showcase, a scouting partner of Baseball America, filed the following report.
By Blaine Clemmens
SAN BERNARDINO—The Final Four of the ABCL Top 20 Championships are set. At 10 a.m. Sunday morning Mountain West Baseball will play SoCal Elite and the following game will be between the ABD Bulldogs 2012 and Hawaii Warriors Green.
Saturday morning's game at Littleton Field was a tight game, eventually won 2-1 by the SoCal Bombers over ABD Bulldogs 2013. Both starting pitchers were very good and both have futures in college baseball. ABD lefthander Chris Kohler (2013, Los Osos HS, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) went eight innings, striking out 11 and gave up only one hit. Unfortunately, he did walk five and hit three batters. Kohler has a classic lefty arm action and projectable body. His fastball was in the 84-87 mph range, with a nice tight 69-71 mph curveball and promising changeup. As a 2013 grad, Kohler looks like a sure bet to be one of the more heavily recruited lefties on the West Coast.
The Bombers starter, righthander Tyler Gatica (2013, Norco, Calif. HS) was matching Kohler pitch for pitch. He got the win, going 6 2/3 innings, giving up three hits, one earned run, five strikeouts, one walk and a hit batter. Gatica was steadily 84-85, touching 86 and he kept the ball down. He has a fair amount of deception because the ABD Bulldogs 2013 were not picking up the ball out of his hand. His breaking ball was decent and he was mixing in a third pitch, which was either a firm change-up or a cutter he was working on. More than anything, Gatica was impressive due to his level of competitiveness and mound presence. [...] Continue Reading »
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