Welcome to Baseball America’s 2014 MLB Draft Signings Central. We’ll use this space to highlight significant signings, plus other major transactions. We’ll also cover many more draft signings via our Twitter feed.
Hoffman, the East Carolina righthander, received a bonus of $3,08,800, the assigned value for the ninth overall pick, while Pentecost, the Kennesaw State catcher, also received slot value of $2,888,300, Baseball America’s John Manuel confirmed.
Hoffman, 21, was 3-3, 2.94 with East Carolina, but had Tommy John surgery on May 14 and will not return to a mound until midseason 2015. Still, the Jays were not dissuaded, thanks to his mid-90s fastball that can touch 98 mph, and his curveball and changeup. Hoffman was one of the most talented pitchers in this entire draft and it’s highly unlikely he would have lasted until the ninth selection had he not had Tommy John, likely in contention for the top four picks.
Pentecost, 21, led Kennesaw State to the NCAA super regionals, leading the nation in hits with 113 and finishing second with a .422 average. Pentecost blends power and natural hitting ability with a level of athleticism rarely seen in a catcher. His momentum started building in the Cape Cod League last summer when he won MVP honors and carried into a huge spring.
The Athletics signed seventh-round pick Branden Cogswell of Virginia for $200,000. The 222nd overall pick, with which Cogswell was selected, had an assigned value of $164,200.
Brandon Finnegan, the TCU lefthander selected No. 17 overall by Kansas City, received a bonus of $2,200,600, the slot value for that choice. The 21-year-old went 8-3, 2.07 in 15 starts for the Horned Frogs with 122 strikeouts and 25 walks in 92 innings this past season. He held opponents to a .206 batting average and led the nation with 12.02 strikeouts per nine innings.
The Mets have signed Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto, the 10th overall pick, for a slot bonus of $2,970,800.
Conforto brings the number of first-round picks signed to 24, and just six of the 24 have signed for bonuses above the assigned pick value of their slot.
No team has gone as aggressively over-slot for two players like Seattle. The Mariners laid out $6.2 million on two high school power hitters—San Diego prep slugger Alex Jackson, whom they signed for $4.2 million at No. 6 overall, and Canadian outfielder Gareth Morgan, who got $2 million in the second round.
Jackson’s bonus is 17 percent over slot, while Morgan’s slot was just $760,300, making his bonus the largest over-slot by percentage (163 percent over slot) in the draft. The Mariners committed more than 90 percent of their bonus pool to those two players. Seattle has compensated by taking seniors in rounds 7-10, signing three of them for $5,000 apiece. In fact, every Mariners pick from the third round on signed a below-slot deal, highlighted by fourth-rounder Ryan Yarbrough, a junior lefthander out of Old Dominion who signed for $40,000 in the fourth round. His slot value was $471,400.
The largest over-slot bonus in the first round so far goes to South Carolina prep righthander Grant Holmes, whose $2.5 million bonus with the Dodgers is 26 percent over his $1,980,500 slot.
Two weeks into the draft, just 69 out of the first 315 players picked in the first 10 rounds remained unsigned, and 25 of those were players whose teams had reached the College World Series. Ten of the 34 first-round picks have not signed; no other round has more than six unsigned players.
— John Manuel
Less than two weeks have passed since the first round of the 2014 draft, and major league teams already have signed more than half of their first-round draft picks.
Out of 34 first-rounders, 18 have signed, with this weekend’s signings including the No. 2 overall pick, Marlins selection Tyler Kolek. The Texas fireballing righthander received a $6 million bonus, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis, the second-largest of this draft class behind the $6.5 million reported bonus of No. 1 selection Brady Aiken.
Kolek’s bonus is more than $800,000 under the Marlins’ slot for the No. 2 pick but still takes up nearly half of the Marlins’ $12,741,700 bonus pool. The Marlins also signed their second-round pick, Texas prep infielder Justin Twine, for $1.316 million, according to CBS Sports’ John Heyman.
North Carolina State shortstop Trea Turner signed one of the few over-slot bonuses in the first round, receiving a $2.9 million bonus with the Padres. The slot for the No. 13 overall pick was $2,723,300. Turner is the first college player to sign above-slot in this year’s first round. That has happened rarely in the last two drafts under the current CBA, with just five college players signing above-slot in the first three rounds last year—Austin Wilson (Mariners, 2013), Sean Manaea (Royals, 34th overall pick, 2013), Michael Lorenzen (Reds, 38th overall, 2013) and Jacob Hannemann (Cubs, third round, 2013).
In 2012, Kevin Gausman (Orioles, No. 4 overall), Deven Marrero (Red Sox, No. 24 overall), Nolan Sanburn (Athletics, second round) and Alex Wood (Braves, second round) were the only four college players who signed for above-slot bonuses in the first two rounds.
Other significant signings of the weekend include Braves first-rounder Braxton Davidson, who signed for slot value of $1,705,000; and prep righthanders Joey Gatto, Mitch Keller and Trey Supak. All but Supak were North Carolina recruits.
Gatto, a prep righthander out of New Jersey, signed with the Angels for $1.2 million, above the $1,050,600 slot for the No. 53 overall pick. Keller, an Iowa product, signed for $1 million, above the $886,800 slot at the No. 64 overall pick. The Pirates also signed Texas prep righthander Supak for $1 million, while the bonus value at No. 73 overall was $772,000.
— John Manuel
The Marlins announced the signing of second-overall pick Tyler Kolek. MLB.com reported Kolek’s bonus was $6 million, third-highest bonus given to a high school pitcher, but below the $6.82 million value for that slot.
As profiled by John Manuel in May, Kolek is the hardest-throwing high schooler of the draft era.
He’ll be introduced by the Marlins in a news conference on Monday afternoon.
The Phillies have signed first round pick Aaron Nola. Nola went 11-1, 1.47 in 16 starts for Louisiana State as a junior. He finished his Tigers career ranking in LSU’s top five in career strikeouts, wins and ERA.
Nola was considered arguably the most polished pitcher in the 2014 draft with excellent command to go with an above-average fastball, average slider and average changeup.
— J.J. Cooper
One week after players were selected in the first round of the 2014 draft, 15 of the 34 players selected have officially signed, with most players signing at or below slot.
That’s true at the top of the draft, where No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken is expected to sign for a $6.5 million bonus. First reported by Jim Callis of MLB.com, Aiken’s bonus would eclipse that of 2013 No. 1 pick Mark Appel ($6 million) for the largest signing bonus in Astros history.
Aiken, just the third high school pitcher ever drafted with the first overall pick, tied a record for the largest signing bonus ever for a prep pitcher. Jameson Taillon, who was the No. 2 overall pick in 2010, also received a $6.5 million bonus.
Aiken is part of an under-slot trend in the first round that includes four other players picked in the first 34 selections (see chart below). The other trend that emerged during the first 10 rounds, the record number of seniors drafted, also has played out as teams try to save money in their bonus pools.
Teams such as the Mariners, Reds and Royals have been particularly aggressive at signing seniors. Seattle started the trend by drafting Old Dominion closer Ryan Yarbrough in the fourth round for just $40,000. That’s more than $430,000 below the slot at pick No. 111. The Mariners have also signed seniors Taylor Byrd, Peter Miller and Adam Martin for $5,000 apiece, saving another roughly $470,000 against their bonus pool.
They’ve spent that savings already (and more) on second-rounder Gareth Morgan, the Canadian outfielder who has signed the largest above-slot bonus so far at $2 million. The slot for the 74th overall selection was $760,300.
The Royals also have signed three players for $5,000 bonuses—Logan Moon, outfielder Brandon Thomasson, and Adam Martin—as they make room in their pool to sign the likes of second-rounder Scott Blewett, first-rounder Brandon Finnegan. They also handed out one of the few above-slot bonuses that have been reported thus far to the second of their first-round picks, No. 28 selection Foster Griffin, who received $1.925 million.
— John Manuel
|Brady Aiken, Astros||$6,500,000||$7,922,100|
|Kyle Schwarber, Cubs||$3,1250,00||$4,621,200|
|Kyle Freeland, Rockies||$2,300,000||$3,190,800|
|Cole Tucker, Pirates||$1,800,000||$1,925,500|
|Justus Sheffield, Indians||$1,600,000||$1,733,000|
|Chase Vallot, Royals||$1,350,000||$1,420,800|
|D.J. Burt, Royals||$200,000||$420,000|
|Julian Merryweather, Indians||$20,000||$299,600|
|Logan Moon, Royals||$5,000||$235,400|
|Taylor Byrd, Mariners||$5,000||$198,100|
|Bo Way, Angels||$20,000||$183,400|
|Brian O’Brady, Reds||$10,000||$155,900|
|Peter Miller, Mariners||$5,000||$150,300|
|Brandon Thomasson, Royals||$5,000||$146,200|
|Brian Hunter, Reds||$5,000||$145,500|
|Adam Martin, Mariners||$5,000||$140,400|
|Nick Green, Royals||$5,000||$137,600|
|Seth Varner, Reds||$5,000||$137,600|
|Matt Tellor, Braves||$5,000||$137,600|
|ABOVE SLOT BONUSES|
|Foster Griffin, Royals||$1,925,000||$1,815,500|
|Jack Flaherty, Cardinals||$2,000,000||$1,650,400|
|Jacob Gatewood, Brewers||$1,830,000||$1,384,900|
|Monte Harrison, Brewers||$1,800,000||$1,100,300|
|Ti’quan Forbes, Rangers||$1,200,000||$957,900|
|Gareth Morgan, Mariners||$2,000,000||$760,300|
|Josh Morgan, Rangers||$800,000||$550,100|
|Lane Thomas, Blue Jays||$750,000||$343,000|
June 12: Tigers Sign Hill
The Tigers announced they signed Derek Hill, their first-round pick and No. 23 overall. MLB.com reported Hill received a $2 million bonus, slightly above the $1.953 million allotted slot value. Earlier, third-rounder Grayson Greiner, the former South Carolina catcher, signed for slot, MLB.com reported, which was $529,400, meaning the Tigers will need to find savings on other picks.
June 11: Cubs Sign Schwarber
The Cubs announced they signed their top pick, Indiana slugger Kyle Schwarber. Terms were not disclosed, but MLB.com reported that Schwarber received $3.125 million, nearly $1.5 million below the slot value for the No. 4 overall choice. The savings, presumably, will be allocated to other draft choices deemed tougher signs, such as prep pitchers Dylan Cease, Justin Steele and Carson Sands.
June 10: Rockies Sign Freeland
The Rockies announced they signed their first pick, Evansville lefthander Kyle Freeland, to a reported $2.3 million deal, well below the slot amount ($3.19 million). Medical concerns dogged Freeland in the spring and that likely led to him accepting a below-slot deal, although the Rockies’ team doctor performed surgery on the Colorado native’s elbow when he was in high school. Freeland hit 96 mph in the fall after pitching at 89-93 mph last summer in the Cape Cod League, and he has maintained that stuff. Freeland has a loose arm and plus-plus control and projects to have big league command, and his 15-1 strikeout-walk ratio ranked second in the country.
June 10: Mariners Sign Morgan
The Mariners reportedly gave Canadian high schooler Gareth Morgan, their second-round pick and No. 74 overall, a $2 million bonus, more than twice his slot value of $760,000. The club confirmed the signing and said Morgan would head to the Rookie-level Arizona League, but declined to reveal financial terms.
June 9: Twins Sign Gordon
The Twins announced they’d signed their first-round pick, Orlando prep SS Nick Gordon, the fifth overall selection. BA correspondent Mike Berardino reported via Twitter that Gordon signed for the slot value of $3.851 million. Gordon has strong bat-to-ball skills, and while he has more doubles power presently, scouts believe he could also have at least average power down the road once he learns to pull the ball, and maybe even above-average.
June 9: Cardinals Sign Top Three Picks
St. Louis has deals in place for its top three picks, BA correspondent Derrick Goold reported, including an over-slot deal for California prep righthander Jack Flaherty. Flaherty’s slot, the 34th overall, is valued at $1.65 million. Flaherty’s 6-foot-3, 217-pound frame offers current strength as well as projection, and his arm action is clean and fast, so he figures to add velocity as he matures. He already sits at 88-92 mph and touches 93. The Cardinals also have agreements with 27th overall pick Luke Weaver and 68th overall pick Ronnie Williams. Slight and athletic at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, Weaver pitches off an 88-92 mph fastball that peaks higher on occasion. Williams has touched 97 this spring and sat in the low 90s in his best outings this spring, though his velocity has fallen into the high 80s late in some outings.
June 7: Brewers Sign Harrison, Gatewood
The Brewers had three of the first 50 picks in this year’s draft and have already signed two of those selections, both on Saturday. They signed Missouri high school outfielder Monte Harrison away from a Nebraska football scholarship for $1.8 million, about $700,000 above the bonus pool allotment for his spot, according to a baseball source. A second source said the Brewers also have agreed with Clovis (Calf.) High shortstop Jacob Gatewood, the 41st overall selection, for a $1.83 million bonus. Combined, the two players take up nearly half of the Brewers’ total bonus pool of $7,605,600.
— John Manuel