I wouldn't have guessed that South Korea would win the Olympics. The Koreans proved that their 7-0 record in round-robin play was no fluke by dispatching the two favorites, Japan and Cuba, for a second time in the medal round. Chong Tae-Hyon, who gave Team USA fits in the 2000 Olympics, saved the finale by getting Yuliesky Gourriel, Cuba's top prospect, to ground into a bases-loaded double play in the ninth inning.
Haley's bonus caught me a little off guard, as that's first-round money for a player we rated as more of a third- to fifth-round pick. However, Haley flashed first-round stuff at times during the spring and had extra negotiating leverage because he had committed to Rice, which rarely loses players out of high school.
The other bonuses weren't out of line. Putnam went in the fifth round, but we ranked him 50th on our Top 200 list and MLB's slot recommendation for No. 50 was $784,000. House ranked No. 100 and commanded a premium because he had committed to Tulane. There weren't many lefthanders in the draft with better stuff.
Fedroff and Stowell were draft-eligible sophomores, which gave them extra leverage and also caused teams to shy away from them in the draft. Neither made our Top 200, though Fedroff is an advanced hitter who batted .404 with 12 homers as a sophomore at North Carolina and Stowell boosted his stock with an all-star summer in the Cape Cod League.
Will they all pan out? Probably not, because the draft doesn't work that way. But there was some sound rationale behind the way the Indians played the draft.
It's difficult to take highly touted and high-priced players in the early rounds, because if something goes wrong, a team can be left with a bunch of unsigned picks. The Red Sox have been as aggressive in the draft as any club, and they typically start off by taking players who will sign for slot or close to it, then gambling in the later rounds.
There was talk of a bonus cap a few years ago, where each team would have a set amount it could spend on draft and international signings. As far as I know, it never got past the discussion stage and it never was much of a priority in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. There was some concern that teams would find loopholes to exploit the rules, much as they did with the various bonus restrictions that predated the draft.
The draft usually takes a back seat in CBA talks, but that may be about to change. The current deal expires after the 2011 season, and there's a growing sense that the draft will be a priority in the upcoming talks. MLB has realized that slotting recommendations can't control bonuses as much as it would like. To the commissioner's office's credit, it reduced the pressure on clubs to avoid busting slot this year, resulting in talent being distributed more equitably about the teams.
MLB may seek mandated slots in the next CBA, similar to what the National Basketball Association has. The union has resisted the idea of strict slotting in the past, presumably because that would conflict philosophically to its insistence that it will never accept any kind of cap on major league player salaries. But if the owners made slotting a priority and gave the union a significant concession in return, it might happen.
Green is clearly the top shortstop for the 2009 draft at this point, and he's the top overall position prospect as well. He was an easy choice for the No. 1 prospect in the Cape this summer. One scouting director I spoke to said he embodied the best of Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria, and others compared his bat to Longoria's, high praise indeed. Though he's 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Green should be able to stay at shortstop.
Givens is a tremendous athlete but his skills are largely unrefined. His low arm slot isn't going to work well at shortstop, and teams are more interested in him now as a pitcher.
Assistant editor Matt Blood, who spent the summer on the showcase trail, likes fellow Florida high schooler Deven Marrero as the top prep shortstop for next year's draft. A cousin of Nationals prospect Chris Marrero, Deven is a standout defender who needs some work with his bat.