Ask BA

I’m still
awaiting word that the list of 2012 draft signings through last Friday’s
deadline has been finalized. But a look at the almost-complete data reveals that
teams spent almost $208 million on this year’s draft. That’s down from $236
million a year ago, a figure that includes guaranteed salaries as part of major
league contracts, which no longer can be given to draftees since the rules
changed with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The $28
million decrease in spending is exactly what commissioner Bud Selig wanted when
he pushed for new draft rules. But the downturn isn’t just the result of
allocated bonus pools and draft-pick penalties for teams that exceed their
allotments by more than 5 percent.

Rather,
the bulk of the decrease comes from the difference in the 2011 and 2012 crops.
Last year’s draft included seven players who would have been candidates to go
No. 1 overall in many drafts. They went with the first seven selections and
signed deals worth a combined $46.9 million.

If the 2011
draft merited a 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale, the 2012 group deserved a 45. No
player clearly separated himself from the rest of the pack, and the top seven
picks signed for a combined $29,020,000.

That’s an
$18 million dropoff from the previous draft. Eliminate that amount to account
for the talent gap between the two drafts, and teams saved an average of
$333,333 in draft spending.

Players
signed more quickly and generally more smoothly than they had in the past, and clubs’
initial fears that many top high school players would opt for college proved
unfounded. But was restricting small-revenue clubs’ ability to amass talent via
the draft worth saving each team less than the equivalent of the minimum major
league salary for one player?

 

John asked the
same question last year, when the draft was
loaded with talent and I thought six of the recent picks deserved to rank ahead
of our No. 20 prospect (Desmond Jennings).

This
year’s crop isn’t as bountiful, but then again, neither is our midseason Top
50, which a year ago began with Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Matt Moore. I
wouldn’t put any of the 2012 draftees in front of our current No. 20 prospect
(Shelby Miller), but I do have No. 2 overall choice Byron Buxton checking in
ahead of fellow Twins prospect Miguel Sano, who ranked 22nd on the Top 50.

Next comes
No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa (Astros), right behind two other shortstops,
one with an electrifying bat (Javier Baez of the Cubs, No. 25) and one who’s
the most exciting player in the minors (Billy Hamilton of the Reds, No. 27). I’d
put five more draftees in the middle of the list, and had the Pirates signed
Mark Appel, he’d fit between Yankees outfielder Mason Williams (No. 28) and No.
3 overall pick Mike Zunino (Mariners).

As for the
international class, Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler would crack the Top 50 after
signing a $30 million contract with the Cubs. He fits among other players at
the same position, behind Starling Marte (Pirates, No. 36) and ahead of Jake
Marisnick (Blue Jays, No. 37), Anthony Gose (Blue Jays, No. 38) and Tyler
Austin (Yankees, No. 39).

Another
Cuban outfielder, Yasiel Puig, signed with the Dodgers for $42 million. But as
we discussed in the
July 2 Ask BA
, many teams thought Puig’s contract far outstripped his
talent.

Below is
our midseason Top 50, with 2012 draftees inserted in bold:

 

1. Dylan Bundy,
rhp, Orioles

2. Jurickson Profar, ss, Rangers

3. Wil Myers, of, Royals

4. Taijuan Walker, rhp, Mariners

5. Danny Hultzen, lhp, Mariners

6. Gerrit Cole, rhp, Pirates

7. Tyler Skaggs, lhp, Diamondbacks

8. Jose Fernandez, rhp, Marlins

9. Manny Machado, ss, Orioles

10. Zack Wheeler, rhp, Mets

11. Mike Olt, 3b, Rangers

12. Nick Castellanos, 3b, Tigers

13. Matt Barnes, rhp, Red Sox

14. Francisco Lindor, ss, Indians

15. Jameson Taillon, rhp, Pirates

16. Archie Bradley, rhp, Diamondbacks

17. Nolan Arenado, 3b, Rockies

18. Oscar Taveras, of, Cardinals

19. Travis d’Arnaud, c, Blue Jays

20. Shelby Miller, rhp, Cardinals

21. Christian Yelich, of, Marlins

Byron Buxton, of,
Twins (No. 2 overall pick)

22.
Miguel Sano, 3b, Twins

23. Jonathan Singleton, 1b, Astros

24. Julio Teheran, rhp, Braves

25. Javier Baez, ss, Cubs

26. Carlos Martinez,
rhp, Cardinals

27. Billy Hamilton, ss, Reds

Carlos
Correa, ss, Astros (No. 1 overall pick)

28. Mason Williams,
of, Yankees

Mike Zunino, c, Mariners
(No. 3 overall pick)

Kevin Gausman, rhp,
Orioles (No. 4 overall pick)

29. Jake
Odorizzi, rhp, Royals

30. Gary Sanchez, c, Yankees

31. Xander Bogaerts, ss, Red Sox

Max Fried, lhp,
Padres (No. 7 overall pick)

Kyle Zimmer, rhp, Royals
(No. 5 overall pick)

Albert Almora, of, Cubs
(No. 6 overall pick)

32.
Jackie Bradley, of, Red Sox

33. Matt Davidson, 3b, Diamondbacks

34. Matt Harvey, rhp, Mets

35. Nick Franklin, ss, Mariners

36. Starling Marte, of, Pirates

Jorge Soler, of,
Cubs

37. Jake
Marisnick, of, Blue Jays

38. Anthony Gose, of, Blue Jays

39. Tyler Austin, of, Yankees

40. Alen Hanson, ss, Pirates

41. Cody Buckel, rhp, Rangers

42. James Paxton, lhp, Mariners

43. Jean Segura, 2b/ss, Angels

44. Kolten Wong, 2b, Cardinals

45. George Springer, of, Astros

46. Bubba Starling, of, Royals

47. Hak-Ju Lee, ss, Rays

48. Tyler Thornburg, rhp, Brewers

49. Zach Lee, rhp, Dodgers

50. Jedd Gyorko, 3b, Padres

 

    I
    haven't heard too much analysis of the Dodgers' draft. How do you think they
    did? More specifically, what do you think of their top two picks, Corey Seager
    and Jesmuel Valentin? Can these two be stars, especially considering the
    current state of mediocrity in the Los Angeles infield? Are there any players picked in
    the later rounds who stand out?

    Antonio Sierra

    Merced, Calif.

Seager and Valentin have plenty of upside. The 18th overall
pick, Seager was one of the best high school bats available in the 2012 draft.
A North Carolina high school
product and the younger brother of Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, Corey is
a lefthanded hitter with power to all fields and an advanced concept of the
strike zone. A shortstop in high school, he could be a plus defender at third
base, his projected pro position.

Overshadowed by No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Valentin played
mostly second base there but can handle shortstop as a pro. He has a number of
intriguing tools, with plus arm strength, steady defense, solid speed and gap
power. As a bonus, he started switch-hitting about two years ago. Like Seager,
he has big league bloodlines, as his father Jose played 16 seasons in the
majors.

Seager ($2.35 million) and Valentin ($984,700) combined to eat
up nearly two-thirds of the Dodgers’ $5,202,800 bon us pool, so they’ll carry
much of the load from this draft. However, Los Angeles did add a number
of other interesting players.

Florida lefthanded
reliever Paco Rodriguez (second round) has a deceptive delivery and a tough
cutter, and he could be the first player from the entire 2012 draft to reach
the majors. Onelki Garcia (third) is another lefty who should get to the big
leagues quickly, and the Cuban defector has starter stuff. Texas A&M righthander
Ross Stripling (fifth) throws strikes and competes with solid stuff.

As for hitters, first baseman Justin Chigbogu (fourth) was
better known as an all-state defensive end at Raytown (Mo.) South High until
scouts fell in love with his power potential this spring. The Dodgers spent
$200,000 on deadline day to land Virginia prep outfielder
Josh Henderson, who consistently makes hard contact.

 

    I
    saw that you mentioned on Twitter that the Astros still can sign
    seventh-rounder Preston Tucker. What's the scouting report on him? He had a
    good career at Florida.

    Sean
    McManus

    Norristown, Pa.

Because the Tucker is a college senior without any athletic
eligibility remaining, the deadline doesn’t apply to him and he can sign up
until a week before next year’s draft. The Astros expect to get him under
contract later this month.

Tucker reached double figures in homers in each of his four
season at Florida, including a
career-high 16 in 2012 and an impressive 11 in 30 NCAA playoff games. He hurt
his draft cause in 2011 with a slow start that spring and a poor performance in
the Cape Cod League the previous summer. The Rockies drafted him in
the 16th round and didn’t sign him when he wouldn’t budge from his asking price
of second-round money.

Tucker offers raw lefthanded power and makes consistent contact
at the plate. The questions are whether his wood-bat performance in the Cape was a fluke and
if he can provide any value beyond his bat. He’s a well below-average runner who
worked to become an adequate outfielder in college, but he may fit best at
first base in pro ball.

 

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