Examining The Track Record For Top Unsigned Prep Players

See also: 2014 BA 500 Draftees Who Did Not Sign


Earlier, Aaron Fitt looked at the top unsigned high school players in the 2014 draft who will make it to campus and have a chance to impact college baseball.

So how does this crop stack up against historic standards, and what is the track record for these top unsigned high school players who enter college as the most talented players in the class?

Using the Baseball America Top 200 Draft Prospects (which became the Top 500 in 2012), we can compare the top unsigned players to previous classes. The BA 500 provides a consistent means for ranking the top draft players by talent, not signability.

From this year’s Top 200, 38 players will reach campus, which is the most of any year in the sample that dates back to 2008. By that measure, this year’s crop of incoming freshmen is an above-average infusion of talent into the college game. The second-highest total belongs to last year with 35. The average of the seven-year sample is 31.5. Nearly one-fifth (19.0 percent) of all top 100 high school players have reached campus dating back to 2008.

Player value is not linear, as top 100 prospects are much more likely to become impact players than those ranked in the 101-200 range. This year there are 12 players from the top 100 that didn’t sign, which is the second-largest total only to last year (14). The average before this year was 8.8 players per draft.

Unsigned top 100 prospects often emerge as top draft prospects again in three years. From 2008-2011 (the last class that the high school players have had time to advance through college and become draft eligible), 29 top 100 prospects didn’t sign. 11 (38 percent) went on to become first-round or supplemental first-round picks, including a No. 1 overall pick (Gerrit Cole) and a pair of No. 2 overall picks (Kris Bryant and Danny Hultzen). Another seven (24 percent) went in the top three rounds.

On the other end of the spectrum, seven (24 percent) went after the 10th round following their college careers. Another three (10 percent) were not drafted. Dane Williams (2009) had an abbreviated college career because of injuries. DeAndre Smelter (2010) returned to football after walking nearly as many as he struck out at Georgia Tech. Connor Barron (2011) went undrafted last month as a junior but will likely be drafted next year.

HS Year BA Top 500 Rank Player Round
2008 17 Gerrit Cole, rhp 1.01
2008 25 Alex Meyer, rhp 1.23
2008 48 Daniel Webb, rhp 18
2008 52 Sonny Gray, rhp 1.18
2008 70 Nick Maronde, lhp 3
2008 72 Zack Cox, inf 1.25
2008 78 Brett Mooneyham, lhp 3
2008 79 Dan Hultzen, lhp 1.02
2008 80 Zach Cone, of 3
2008 94 Donnie Roach, rhp 3S
2008 95 Austin Dicharry, rhp 24
2009 29 LeVon Washington, of 2
2009 65 Brian Goodwin, of 1S
2009 68 Dane Williams, rhp Not Drafted
2009 81 Austin Maddox, rhp 3
2010 15 Karsten Whitson, rhp 11
2010 18 Dylan Covey, rhp 4
2010 27 Austin Wilson, of 2
2010 42 Ryne Stanek, rhp 1.29
2010 46 A.J. Vanegas, rhp 11
2010 50 Kevin Gausman, rhp 1.04
2010 53 Kris Bryant, 3b 1.02
2010 72 DeAndre Smelter, rhp Not Drafted
2010 91 Eric Jaffe, rhp 11
2010 92 Randy LeBlanc, rhp 10
2010 95 Stefan Sabol, c/of 17
2011 66 Derek Fisher, of 1S
2011 82 Connor Barron, ss Not Drafted
2011 35 Tyler Beede, rhp 1.14

The distribution of potential outcomes for top 100 position players is smaller than for pitchers, offering less flameout risk. More than three-fourths (78 percent) of the position players went in the top three rounds, with four picks in the first or supplemental first round (Bryant, Zack Cox, Brian Goodwin, Derek Fisher).

While the 101-200 group may not provide bring as much notoriety as the top 100 players when they begin their college careers, that group provides considerable depth, as a much greater proportion of this group reaches campus (48.9 percent) compared to the top 100 (19.0 percent).

What can we learn about the top 200 players who were in a similar situation three years ago?

Below is a list of every top 200 high school player from the 2011 draft, with what round the player was drafted out of high school, drafted out of college and their signing bonus. Three years later, this group combined to sign for nearly $20 million in bonuses in the draft last month. This group is highlighted by three first-round pitchers—Carlos Rodon (No. 3), Aaron Nola (No. 7) and Tyler Beede (No. 14)—and a supplemental first-rounder in Derek Fisher. Three others went on to become second-rounders (Taylor Sparks, Nick Burdi and Andrew Suarez) and two became third-rounders (Michael Cederoth and Aaron Brown).

2011 Player Rank Draft HS Rd Player, Pos. Round (Year) Team Bonus
35 1.21 Tyler Beede, rhp 1.14 (2014) Giants $2,613,200
66 6 Derek Fisher, of 1S.37 (2014) Astros $1,534,100
82 3 Connor Barron, ss Not Drafted
104 20 Dillon Peters, lhp 10 (2014) Marlins $175,000
107 8 Senquez Golson, of Not Drafted
124 25 Billy Flamion, of 15 (2013) Dodgers $100,000
131 24 Taylor Sparks, 3b 2 (2014) Reds $972,800
132 30 John Curtiss, rhp 6 (2014) Twins $266,900
133 3 Kevin Cron, 1b 14 (2014) D’Backs
134 24 Nick Burdi, rhp 2 (2014) Twins $1,218,800
137 19 Hawtin Buchanan, rhp 20 (2014) Mariners
139 15 Kody Watts, rhp Not Drafted
148 41 Dante Flores, 2b Not Drafted
149 17 Aaron Brown, of/lhp 3 (2014) Phillies $750,000
150 21 Riley Moore, c Not Drafted
155 9 Andrew Suarez, lhp 2 (2014) Nationals Did Not Sign
163 22 Aaron Nola, rhp 1.07 (2014) Phillies $3,300,900
169 41 Michael Cederoth, rhp 3 (2014) Twins $703,900
170 38 Pat Connaughton, rhp 4 (2014) Orioles $428,100
185 41 Chris Mariscal, ss 14 (2014) Mariners
189 39 Ricky Jacquez, rhp 25 (2013) Mets
192 14 Cole Wiper, rhp 10 (2013) Rangers $700,000
196 11 Richard Prigatano, of 11 (2014) Rockies
198 16 Carlos Rodon, lhp 1.03 (2014) White Sox $6,582,000
Total $19,345,700

The 2011 class had only three top 100 players, which makes the 2010 crop a more accurate comparison because it had 12 top 100 players, the same total as 2014. The 2011 crop produced two players that went in the top five (Bryant and Kevin Gausman) along with two other first-rounders (Ryne Stanek and Jason Hursh) and a supplemental first-rounder (Michael Lorenzen). Lefthander Kevin Ziomek and outfielder Austin Wilson both went in the second round.

2010 Player Rank Draft HS Rd Player, Pos. Round (Year) Team Bonus
15 1.09 Karsten Whitson, rhp 11 (2014) Red Sox $100,000
18 1.14 Dylan Covey, rhp 4 (2013) Athletics $370,000
27 12 Austin Wilson, of 2 (2013) Mariners $1,700,000
42 3 Ryne Stanek, rhp 1.29 (2013) Rays $1,755,800
46 7 A.J. Vanegas, rhp 11 (2014) Dodgers $100,000
50 6 Kevin Gausman, rhp 1.04 (2012) Orioles $4,320,000
53 18 Kris Bryant, 3b 1.02 (2013) Cubs $6,708,400
72 14 DeAndre Smelter, rhp Not Drafted
85 5 Scott Frazier, rhp 6 (2013) Cubs $267,600
91 10 Eric Jaffe, rhp 11 (2012) White Sox $100,000
92 16 Randy LeBlanc, rhp 10 (2014) Twins $90,000
95 17 Stefan Sabol, c/of 17 (2012) Mets $100,000
117 16 Adam Duke, rhp Not Drafted
118 39 John Simms, rhp 11 (2013) Nationals $100,000
131 6 Adam Plutko, rhp 11 (2013) Indians $300,000
132 10 Zack Weiss, rhp 6 (2013) Reds $180,000
133 6 Gabriel Encinas, rhp Not Drafted
139 30 Brian Ragira, of 4 (2013) Giants $415,000
140 7 Michael Lorenzen, of 1.38 (2013) Reds $1,500,000
142 43 Jimmy Hodgskin, lhp Not Drafted
148 26 Daniel Gibson, lhp 7 (2013) D’Backs $178,600
153 7 Austin Kubitza, rhp 4 (2013) Tigers $401,200
163 11 Tyler Kuresa, 1b 16 (2014) Twins
165 18 Zach Alvord, ss Not Drafted
166 19 Jacoby Jones, 3b 3 (2013) Pirates $612,000)
167 15 Sean Dwyer, of 11 (2013) Rockies $100,000
169 38 Matt Roberts, c Not Drafted
173 6 Jason Hursh, rhp 1.31 Braves $1,704,200
175 45 Krey Bratsen, of Not Drafted
178 13 Kevin Ziomek, lhp 2 Tigers $956,600
195 19 Austin Southall, of/1b Not Drafted
Total $21,447,400

The 2009 class had five first-rounders (Goodwin, Deven Marrero, Mike Zunino, Mark Appel and Brian Johnson), as did the the 2008 class (Zack Cox, Alex Meyer, Sonny Gray, Danny Hultzen, Taylor Jungmann).

With an average of nearly five unsigned top 200 players out of high school who become first-round or supplemental first-round picks, how many will the 2014 high school class produce and who will emerge as a first rounder in three years? Only time will tell.