Evolution Of The Bonus Record
History of signing bonus records over the years.
History of signing bonus records over the years.
Two weeks before the 2000 draft, Sandy Alderson, then Major League Baseball's executive vice president of baseball operations, called a meeting of scouting directors in Dallas. Disturbed with the runaway inflation of signing bonuses in the 1990s, he sought to curtail the game's age-old problem of reckless spending on untried amateur players.
Virginia has produced plenty of firsts. America's first permanent settlement came in Jamestown in 1607. The College of William & Mary opened the nation's first law school in 1779, started the first educational honor system and founded Phi Beta Kappa. Virginia native George Washington served as the nation's first president from 1789-97, and seven more presidents have come from the state. In the sports world, NFL franchises have drafted Virginia natives first overall three times: Bill Dudley (1942), Bruce Smith (1985) and Michael Vick (2001) while Ralph Sampson (1984) and Allen Iverson (1996) became No. 1 picks in the NBA draft. Yet for all its firsts and abundant athletic talent, Virginia has never produced the first pick of the baseball draft. Expect that to change this year. Chesapeake's Justin Upton rates as the favorite to go from Great Bridge High in Chesapeake to the Diamondbacks with the first selection, one pick earlier than his brother B.J. went to the Devil Rays in 2002. Old Dominion righthander Justin Verlander (2004) and James Madison righthander Jay Franklin (1971) give Virginia three No. 2 overall picks in draft history.
With a population of less than 5,000, it's easy to miss Fort Meade, Fla. But baseball scouts have gone out of their way to find it this spring, in search of the righthanded-hitting center fielder who has shot up the draft charts. Fort Meade is right in the center of the state, about 70 miles east of St. Petersburg. Phosphate mines employ many of the town's residents, including most of Andrew McCutchen's living and past relatives. It's the kind of place where high school athletes are icons and everyone knows everyone.
isten closely as names are called June 7. And it might not be a bad idea to have an atlas handy. This year's draft crop features players from all corners of the country. Towns like Phenix City, Ala., New Richmond, Ohio, Aurora, Ill., and University Place, Wash., are all likely to produce high-round picks. Crosscheckers and scouting directors have booked flights to several unlikely destinations this spring, and Des Moines, Iowa, features another unlikely prospect with impact potential.
Two years ago, Jordan Danks was known in scouting circles simply as "Little Danks" or "John Danks' little brother." While the elder Danks was mowing down hitters, guiding Round Rock High to the Texas Class 5-A state championship game as a senior before being drafted ninth overall by the Rangers, Jordan was hitting near the bottom of the lineup, a tall, slender sophomore playing right field. Much as he had throughout the first 14 years of his life, he was the little guy, tagging along behind his big brother and playing up with John's classmates.
The key to success is simple, Rancho Bernardo High coach Sam Blalock says: "It all comes down to the kids." And over the past decade, the Broncos have had a lot of great kids, including five first-round draft picks—Jaime Jones (1995), Matt Wheatland and Scott Heard (2000), Cole Hamels (2002) and Danny Putnam (2004, drafted out of Stanford)—11 players drafted in the first 10 rounds and more than two dozen draftees overall.
It was the unthinkable, in these modern times. John Mayberry Jr. turned down first-round money—not to bargain for more cash, not to get a better deal—to attend college and get himself educated. That happened with some regularity a couple of decades ago, but with the big money being thrown at this generation's high picks, education becomes a lower priority against the immediate gratification of a huge paycheck.
Timeline of Scott Boras' career.
Scott Boras' success, and methods, have made him the most talked about agent in baseball. Is he good for players, and for the game? It depends on who you ask.
Jerry Crasnick will hit the chat room at 2 p.m. ET to discuss his new book, "License To Deal: A Year in the Life of a Maverick Baseball Agent". Please note, this is not a 2005 Draft chat.
The talent has been building in Virginia in recent years, and this year caps off the state's steady surge toward amateur prominence. First and foremost is Justin Upton, the consensus top talent in the draft, and he's closely followed by Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman is the exception this year, however, as the only college player among the state's best prospects. Of the top 12 players in the state, 11 come from the high school ranks.
West Virginia enjoyed some success on the national stage this spring when West Virginia State advanced to the Division II World Series and Potomac State made its second straight appearance at the Junior College World Series. Winthrop outfielder Daniel Carte, a West Virginia native who is the state's high school career home run leader, is a potential first-round pick. But that's as close as it will get in the draft as the state won't have any other players with West Virginia connections go in the first 10 rounds.
This has not been a vintage year for Pennsylvania, especially in the western half of the state. After producing premium first-rounders Chris Lubanski (Royals, 11th overall) in 2003 and Neil Walker (Pirates, 11th) in 2004, there may not be a Pennsylvania player among the draft's top 100 picks this year.
In a change from recent years, high schools have produced more of Ohio's best draft prospects than the colleges in 2005. Slugging outfielder Nolan Reimold is one of the few position players and collegians of note, and his late surge could carry him into the fifth round or earlier.
Led by the dynamic pitching duo of Craig Hansen and Anthony Varvaro at St. John's, New York has an unusually deep crop of college pitchers this year. If he goes in the first round, as expected, Hansen would be the first player drafted in the first round out of a New York college or high school since 1996.
New Jersey has been a tough state for scouts to get a read on this spring. There were three premium high school arms all along, but the pecking order changed continually until righthander Vince Mazzaro, the most signable of the trio, made a late charge. Some scouts saw Princeton multisport star Will Venable as a better athlete and better baseball prospect than B.J. Szymanski, Princeton's two-sport star from 2004 who went in the second round to the Reds, while others see him as no better than the surprise 15th-rounder he was a year ago.
A year after Maine high school righthander Mark Rogers, selected fifth overall by the Brewers, became the highest pick in draft history from this three-state region's prep ranks, things have returned to normal. With the possibility of one or two players slipping into the first 10 rounds, crosscheckers had little reason to trek to the northeast corner of the country this spring.
Connecticut high school righthander Josh Zeid is the only player with a shot of being drafted in the first 10 rounds, but he could just as easily slide a long way because he has not had a dominant season and his commitment to Vanderbilt has raised issues about his signability. By winning the Atlantic-10 Conference title, Rhode Island qualified for its first-ever NCAA regional appearance and should also make its greatest imprint on the draft, with three pitchers expected to be selected.
Maryland had hopes of producing two first-round picks this year, but those hopes evaporated when outfielder Justin Maxwell was felled by his third season-ending injury in two years early in the season and righthander Brandon Erbe couldn't produce even a .500 record at the high school level.