It's July 4, so that means we're celebrating Independence Day . . . and into our third day of international signings. Once July 2 arrives, teams can start signing 16-year-old foreign players, and Ben Badler has been busy detailing all of the deals at our Prospects Blog.
I'm still waiting for Bud Selig to explain why it's OK for the Rangers to give $5 million to Nomar Romaza and $3.5 million to Ronald Guzman, both Dominican outfielders, yet it's a capital offense for any club to exceed MLB's ridiculously low bonus recommendations for the draft. Other than "The commissioner's office is horribly short-sighted when it comes to the draft," I don't have any answers.
Spence starred for two years at Central Arizona JC and one at Arizona State, overcoming a mid-80s fastball by confounding hitters with his offspeed stuff, before the Angels took him in the third round of the 2009 draft. He opted not to sign and returned to the Sun Devils, only to miss the entire 2010 college season with an elbow injury. Once healthy, he required just 71 minor league innings before joining the Padres bullpen.
It's extremely rare for such a low draft pick to be one of the first three players from his draft to appear in the majors. Usually, first-round and sandwich picks are the quickest to the big leagues. The first player from the 2010 draft to get there was White Sox first-rounder Chris Sale, and all of the three fastest arrivals from each of the 2007-09 drafts were taken before the second round.
The lowest pick in the last 10 drafts who was one of the first three from his class to become a major leaguer is Cla Meredith, a Red Sox sixth-round pick in 2004. Just 13 double-digit draft choices in draft history have that distinction, only one of whom was taken after 1983: Ryan Bukvich, a Royals 11th-rounder in 2000.
The latest draftee to make it to the big leagues that fast was Dusty Baker, a Braves 26th-rounder in 1967. He starred in four sports as a California high schooler, and baseball teams feared that he might play football or basketball in college. Instead, he signed and made it to Atlanta in September 1968.
Teams have gotten more efficient at scouting and determining signability, which is why most of the double-digit picks who raced to the majors are from the early years of the draft. Besides Baker and Bukvich, the others are: Carl Willis, 23rd round (Tigers, 1983), Bill Lee, 22nd round (Red Sox, 1968), Mike Paul, 20th round (Indians, 1967), Bret Saberhagen, 19th round (Royals, 1982), Ray Burris, 17th round (Cubs, 1972), Brad Mills, 17th round (1979), Oscar Gamble, 16th round (Cubs, 1968), Jim Umbarger, 16th round (Rangers, 1974), Jim Crawford, 14th round (Astros, 1972), Rich Nye, 14th round (Cubs, 1966) and Mike Caldwell, 12th round (Padres, 1971).
Below is a list of the three quickest players to majors from each of the first 46 June drafts (draft round in parentheses):
|Fastest Players To Majors, June Draft (Regular Phase Only)|
|Year||Players/Teams (Draft Rounds)|
|2010||Chris Sale/CWS (1), Josh Spence/SD (9)|
|2009||Mike Leake/Cin (1), Drew Storen/Was (1), Stephen Strasburg/Was (1)|
|2008||Conor Gillaspie/SF (1s), Ryan Perry/Det (1), Daniel Schlereth/Ari (1)|
|2007||Ross Detwiler/Was (1), Eddie Kunz/NYM (1s), David Price/TB (1)|
|2006||Andrew Miller/Det (1), Joe Smith/NYM (3), Brandon Morrow/Sea (1)|
|2005||Joey Devine/Atl (1), Ryan Zimmerman/Was (1), Craig Hansen/Bos (1)|
|2004||Huston Street/Oak (1s), Cla Meredith/Bos (6), Jeff Fiorentino/Bal (3)|
|2003||Ryan Wagner/Cin (1), Chad Cordero/Mtl (1), Rickie Weeks/Mil (1)|
|2002||Kevin Correia/SF (4), Khalil Greene/SD (1), Zack Greinke/KC (1)|
|2001||Mark Prior/ChC (1), Dewon Brazelton/TB (1), Kirk Saarloos/Hou (3)|
|2000||Xavier Nady/SD (2), Ryan Bukvich/KC (11), Joe Borchard/CWS (1)|
|1999||Eric Munson/Det (1), Barry Zito/Oak (1), Matt Ginter/CWS (1)|
|1998||J.D. Drew/StL (1), Jeff Weaver/Det (1), Ryan Rupe/TB (6)|
|1997||Jim Parque/CWS (1s), Matt Anderson/Det (1), Troy Glaus/Cal (1)|
|1996||Mike Caruso/SF (2), Braden Looper/StL (1), Billy Koch/Tor (1)|
|1995||Ariel Prieto/Oak (1), Darin Erstad/Cal (1), Matt Morris, StL (1)|
|1994||Dustin Hermanson/SD (1), C.J. Nitkowski/Cin (1), Paul Wilson/NYM (1)|
|1993||Brian Anderson/Cal (1), Jeff Granger/KC (1), Darrin Dreifort/LAD (1)|
|1992||Jeffrey Hammonds/Bal (1), Chris Gomez/Det (3), Tim Davis/Sea (6)|
|1991||Benji Gil/Tex (1), Brent Gates/Oak (1), David McCarty/Min (1)|
|1990||Alex Fernandez/CWS (1), Lance Dickson/ChC (1), Chris Haney/Mtl (2)|
|1989||John Olerud/Tor (3), Ben McDonald/Bal (1), Scott Erickson/Min (4)|
|1988||Gregg Olson/Bal (1), Jim Abbott/Cal (1), Andy Benes/SD (1)|
|1987||Jack McDowell/CWS (1), Cris Carpenter/StL (1), Jack Armstrong/Cin (1)|
|1986||Mike Loynd/Tex (7), Greg Swindell/Cle (1), Bo Jackson/KC (4)|
|1985||Will Clark/SF (1), Pete Incaviglia/Mtl (1), Bobby Witt/Tex (1)|
|1984||Oddibe McDowell/Tex (1), Billy Swift/Sea (1), Scott Bankhead/KC (1)|
|1983||Jeff Robinson/SF (2), Roger Clemens/Bos (1), Carl Willis/Det (23)|
|1982||Bryan Oelkers/Min (1), Spike Owen/Sea (1), Bret Saberhagen/KC (19)|
|1981||Mike Moore/Sea (1), Frank Viola/Min (2), Jeff Keener/StL (7)|
|1980||Rich Bordi/Oak (3), Terry Francona/Mtl (1), Tom Gorman/Mtl (4)|
|1979||Jerry Don Gleaton/Tex (1), Steve Howe/LAD (1), Brad Mills/Mtl (17)|
|1978||Mike Morgan/Oak (1), Bob Horner/Atl (1), Brian Milner/Tor (7)|
|1977||Brian Greer/SD (1), Roger Erickson/Min (3), Paul Molitor/Mil (1), Ozzie Smith/SD (4)|
|1976||Bob Owchinko/SD (1), Floyd Bannister/Hou (1), Lary Sorensen/Mil (8)|
|1975||Rick Cerone/Cle (1), Danny Goodwin/Cal (1), Chris Knapp/CWS (1)|
|1974||Jack Kucek/CWS (2), Bill Almon/SD (1), Jim Umbarger/Tex (16)|
|1973||Dave Winfield/SD (1), David Clyde/Tex (1), Eddie Bane/Min (1)|
|1972||Dave Roberts/SD (1), Jim Crawford/Hou (14), Ray Burris/ChC (17)|
|1971||Mike Caldwell/SD (12), Jay Franklin/SD (1), Mac Scarce/Phi (8)|
|1970||Steve Dunning/Cle (1), Lee Richard/CWS (1), Terry Forster/CWS (2)|
|1969||Don Gullett/Cin (1), Larry Gura/ChC (2), Balor Moore/Mtl (1)|
|1968||Bill Lee/Bos (22), Thurman Munson/NYY (1), Oscar Gamble/ChC (16)|
|1967||Mike Paul/Cle (20), Ralph Garr/Atl (3), Dusty Baker/Atl (26), Jimmy McMath/ChC (2)|
|1966||Rich Nye/ChC (14), Gary Nolan/Cin (1), Reggie Jackson/Oak (1)|
|1965||Ken Holtzman/ChC (4), Joe Coleman/Was (1), Clyde Wright/Cal (6)|
I thought Roth should have been named Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series, where he gave up three earned runs in three starts as South Carolina won its second straight national championship. Those were the only earned runs Roth surrendered in 46 2/3 postseason innings. His 1.17 ERA in Omaha over the last two years is the second-best in CWS history, and he led NCAA Division I starters this season in wins (14-3), ERA (1.06) and innings (145).
Jimmy touched on the two reasons why Roth lasted so long in the draft: He doesn't wow anyone with his pitches, and he's not going to give up the final year of his education to sign for a nominal bonus. The NCAA gave Roth its Elite 88 Award for Division I baseball, honoring his excellence on the diamond and in the classroom. He carries a 3.8 grade-point average while working toward a degree in international business, and he made it clear to teams he wanted to return for his senior season.
Roth's lone plus pitch is his changeup. He succeeds by keeping hitters off balance, commanding his 82-87 mph fastball to both sides of the plate, using a sweeping slider against lefthanders and back-dooring his curveball against righties. He doesn't have obvious big league stuff, but his savvy and moxie are off the charts.
Grichuk has hit .310/.343/.559 since signing for $1.242 million, but he has played in just 117 pro games. He missed much of last season after tearing a ligament in his right thumb in May and breaking a bone in his left wrist in August. He has yet to play this season after he fouled a ball off his knee and fractured a kneecap in spring training.
Power is Grichuk's carrying tool. While he has hit for average at the lower levels of the minors, he'll have to do a much better job of controlling the strike zone after posting just 21 walks against 123 strikeouts. His running and defense are no better than average, so he'll have to produce at the plate to be worth the first-round pick the Angels invested in him.
Though missing a year's worth of at-bats isn't good for anyone's career, Grichuk is still just 19, making it easier to make up for lost time. The Angels hope he'll be able to return to low Class A Cedar Rapids, where he spent most of 2010, in the near future.