Bard, Scherzer Remain Unsigned
See also: Previous Draft Dish
See also: Draft Dish Archive
Tasting defeat at the hands of the Yankees, especially in a five-game sweep at Fenway Park, is never easy to take for the Red Sox. But off the field, they were winning several battles to land draft picks who had been considered all but unsignable.
In August, Boston paid well over slot money to sign three high school position players. Ryan Kalish, a ninth-round outfielder from New Jersey, signed for $600,000, while Ty Weeden, a 16th-round catcher from Oklahoma, signed for $420,000.
The biggest coup was 18th-rounder Lars Anderson, a first baseman from California. Considered a supplemental first-round pick until his reported bonus demands of $1 million scared teams off, Anderson agreed in principle to sign, and his deal was just pending a physical. While he didn't get his seven-figure asking price, a baseball source outside the organization said Anderson received supplemental first-round money.
With extra picks in the first and third rounds, as well as two supplemental first-rounders, the Red Sox already had spent more on the draft than most clubs. Boston scouting director Jason McLeod said ownership gave his department the support to pursue talent in later rounds, with sluggers a priority.
"We were looking for guys with impact ability," McLeod said. "We have a system devoid of power hitters, and we looked in the later rounds to see who had power: Matt LaPorta, Lars Anderson, Ty Weeden. We spent a lot of time scouting these kids in the summer. We saw Lars and Ty for 20 games each with wood bats. That helped us evaluate them."
The Red Sox had not been able to sign 14th-rounder LaPorta, a University of Florida first baseman who finished among the Cape Cod League home run leaders this summer. But scouts still talk about the batting-practice fireworks Weeden displayed at the 2005 Area Code Games, while Anderson led California high school players with 15 homers this spring. His total included several tape-measure shots at the National Classic tournament in Orange County in March.
Kalish starred as a two-way player in baseball and as a quarterback in football, and he had the opportunity to pursue both sports at Virginia. He immediately became one of the best athletes in the Red Sox system.
"He has a strong, athletic body," McLeod said. "I wouldn't call it a power bat, but we really think highly of his swing. He didn't swing and miss at a single pitch in high school this year. We really believe in him. He's a high-energy, confident kid."
Boston didn't succeed on all of its late-round gambles. Florida high school lefthanders Carmine Giardina (28th round) and Bryan Morgado (34th round) opted for college baseball over the pros. Giardina will attend Central Florida, while Morgado is headed to Tennessee. Texas prep southpaw Brandon Belt (11th round) will remain under control to the Red Sox after switching his commitment from Texas to San Jacinto (Texas) Junior College.
McLeod still had work remaining as well because Daniel Bard had yet to sign. The North Carolina righthander was considered a possible top 15 choice, but fell to No. 28 amid signability concerns. He and Missouri righty Max Scherzer (No. 11, Diamondbacks) were the only remaining unsigned first-rounders.
McLeod said he still believed the Red Sox would strike a deal with Bard before he returned to the Tar Heels. Bard did not go to class the first day of the semester at North Carolina.
"I didn't think it would be a slam dunk, but I didn't think it would drag out this long," McLeod said. "Things have gone really well lately. I'm very, very optimistic something will get done."And Then There Were Two
The Diamondbacks, like the Red Sox, were optimistic about signing their first-round choice, Scherzer, although the process was coming along gradually. Former scouting director Mike Rizzo left Arizona to take over as the Nationals’ assistant general manager and vice president of baseball operations shortly after making Scherzer the Diamondbacks’ first pick. Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes was involved directly in the Scherzer negotiations, as well as those with the club’s second-round pick, Brett Anderson.
Anderson, a first-team All-American in 2006 following his senior season at Stillwater (Okla.) High, did not attend the first day of classes at Oklahoma State, where he had committed to play baseball for his father, Cowboys head coach Frank Anderson. Rather, the 6-foot-5 lefthander was in Phoenix where he took and passed a physical, and he signed for a $950,000 bonus Wednesday. That's the second-highest bonus of the second round, just behind No. 69 overall pick Wes Hodges, whom the Indians gave $1 million.
"Lefthanded starters don't grow on trees," Diamondbacks general partner (and former agent) Jeff Moorad said.
Anderson had a successful summer while pitching with the Midland (Ohio) Redskins summer league team. He pitched seven innings and did not allow an earned run in his final outing of the summer in the Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, N.M., in August.
His Midland teammate, lefthander Andy Oliver, had declined the Twins’ final offer, and chose to attend class at Oklahoma State. Oliver’s stock plummeted this spring when his fastball velocity dipped into the mid-80s as a senior at Vermillion (Ohio) High. He was in better shape, his stuff was sharper and his velocity had returned to the low 90s this summer.
“He was our best pitcher this summer, probably even ahead of Anderson,” Midland coach Brian Hiler said. “He was consistently 92-93 all summer, was painting corners and led our team in strikeouts.”
Oliver fell to the 17th round after requesting as much as $1 million to sign before the draft.
—ALAN MATTHEWSDRAFT DOPE
• The Yankees finally announced the signing of Southern California righthander Ian Kennedy
, the 21st overall pick this year. Kennedy agreed to a $2.25 million bonus in June, but the deal wasn't made official until mid-August. New York also spent $600,000 to sign Arizona righthander Mark Melancon
, a projected first-round pick until he strained his elbow in April. Melancon's bonus tied Kalish's for the highest in the ninth round this year. The Yankees also came to terms with Alabama righthander David Robertson
, a 17th-rounder, after he was named MVP of the Cape Cod League playoffs while pitching for the champion Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. The Yankees had locked up their top 17 picks with the exception of Nebraska righthander Joba Chamberlain
, the draft's lone remaining unsigned supplemental first-rounder.
• The Nationals had more unsigned players in the first 10 rounds than any other club. But they reduced that total from six to four with the signings of third-rounder Stephen King
and fourth-rounder Glenn Gibson
. King, a Florida high school infielder who has drawn comparisons to Bobby Crosby
and J.J. Hardy, signed for $750,000—the most money given a third-rounder this year. Gibson, a New York prep lefthander whose father Paul pitched in the majors, also received more than slot money at $350,000.
• Two of the more prominent football players drafted in June will pass on the diamond for the gridiron. UCLA defensive back Jarrad Page
, a seventh-round pick of both the Angels and the NFL's Chiefs, signed a three-year deal with Kansas City. Page, who was seeking a $1.7 million bonus from the Angels, had been a sensation in training camp for the Chiefs. Louisiana high school outfielder Jared Mitchell
was one of the best athletes in the draft and drew some first-round consideration. Ultimately, his football prowess--he earned a scholarship from Louisiana State after winning state 5-A player of the year honors by passing and rushing for more than 1,500 yards each as a senior quarterback--and bonus demands (he wanted $1 million) dropped him to the Twins in the 10th round. Minnesota reportedly had offered Mitchell $700,000, but he reported to LSU's preseason camp and began his conversion to wide receiver. The Twins would lose their rights to Mitchell once he attended his first class, scheduled for Aug. 28.
• College classes were starting around the country, and several top-rated high school players were headed to class, rather than signing. Anderson's signing left New Jersey righthander Sean Black
, drafted 59th overall, as the top unsigned high school player. He's committed to Seton Hall, where classes begin Sept. 5. Righthander Nick Fuller
, the Devil Rays' third-rounder of a suburban Atlanta high school, is a South Carolina recruit and went to class Thursday, meaning hte Devil Rays will not sign him. The other unsigned third-round pick is Boerne (Texas) High outfielder Russ Moldenhauer
, an Angels draftee who is committed to play at Texas. Classes in Austin begin Aug. 30.
Another Gamecocks recruit, infielder Lonnie Chisenhall
out of West Carteret High in Morehead City, N.C., also went to class, meaning the Pirates lost their rights to negotiate with him. They had drafted him in the 11th round. Another North Carolina prep star, righthander/infielder Alex White
, attended class at North Carolina, where he's expected to be a reliever and second or third baseman for the Tar Heels.
The only unsigned fifth-round pick, outfielder Devin Shepherd
(Twins), attended the first day of classes Oklahoma on Monday, meaning the Twins forfeited their rights to sign him.Contributing: John Manuel.