Loyal Ask BA reader Sean Seiler (Conyers, Ga.) sorted through all of the 84 all-star starters, reserves and replaced players to determine which organizations originally signed them. His findings:
The Dodgers signed an MLB-high seven all-stars in Adrian Beltre, Joel Hanrahan, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Paul Konerko, Russell Martin and Shane Victorino. The Giants finished second with six in Matt Cain, Kevin Correia, Tim Lincecum, Pablo Sandoval, Ryan Vogelsong and Brian Wilson.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Padres were the only team to get shut out. Five clubs signed just one all-star: the Athletics (Andre Ethier), Cubs (Starlin Castro), Orioles (Matt Wieters), Twins (Michael Cuddyer) and White Sox (Gio Gonzalez).
Some scouts believe Purke's main problem was that he didn't pitch last summer or fall, and thus didn't build up enough arm strength for his sophomore season. Others point to his delivery and express concern about the way he slings the ball from a low-three-quarters slot. Whatever the cause, Purke dropped to Washington as the 96th overall pick in the draft.
That's a far cry from 2009, when the Rangers selected Purke 14th overall out of high school. As we've recounted several times, team president Nolan Ryan and Purke's father Lawrence agreed to a $6 million bonus, but Major League Baseball controlled the club's finances at the time and refused to approve the deal. Texas reportedly made a last-second offer of $4 million, though it was never clear whether the commissioner's office would have signed off on a bonus that was still well over its $1.602 million recommendation for the No. 14 choice.
Purke, who missed a month with shoulder bursitis before returning for the final three weeks of TCU's season, has decided to spend the summer working out at home in the Houston area. Showcasing himself in summer ball would have made a decision easier for the Nationals, who had three of the draft's top 34 picks and used them all on Boras Corp. clients Rendon, Alex Meyer and Brian Goodwin. Their combined cost (including a major league contract for Rendon) could be in the neighborhood of $9 million.
Washington will have to determine what it's willing to pay Purke based on workouts and not extended game action. With four weeks remaining before the Aug. 15 deadline, I have no great sense as to whether he'll turn pro or return to the Horned Frogs. The Nationals gave out a draft-record $11.5 million in bonuses in 2009 and set a new mark last year with $11.9 million—and also committed an additional $11.3 million in guarantees included in big league deals for Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper—so they're not afraid to spend. At the same time, I don't believe the Purkes have any diminished belief in Matt's ability, and I could see him going back to TCU for his junior season with the belief that he can go No. 1 overall in the 2012 draft.
But there still are valuable players available in rounds six through 10, and even rounds 11 through 15. Take a look at the chart of average bonuses from the 2010 draft below, and you'll see that clubs exceeded MLB's recommended $150,000 maximum in the sixth, seventh and eighth rounds and went over six figures for rounds 11-15.
In rounds 16-30, there often will be one player who receives top-five-rounds money and a few other six-figure bonuses, but it's mostly longshots who sign for lesser bonuses. For the final 20 rounds, it's almost all organization players who are signing for $10,000 or less.
|Average Signing Bonuses, 2010 Draft|
A good example of the differences between a limited and totally free market came in the 1996 draft. Kris Benson was the consensus top prospect and went No. 1 overall to the Pirates, who signed him for $2 million. Travis Lee was the second choice by the Twins but became a free agent—and signed for $10 million with the Diamondbacks. Another draft free agent, Matt White, got a $10.2 million bonus from the Devil Rays.
An argument can be made that the expansion Devil Rays and Diamondbacks were trying to make a splash, but the fact that White and Lee got five times Benson's bonus shows how lucrative being available to all 30 teams can be. Stephen Strasburg signed a draft-record $15.1 million big league contract in 2009, and I have no doubt that he would have topped $60 million had he been a free agent.
I asked Ben Badler, Baseball America's guru on international signings, how many Latin American amateurs would have been first-round picks this year had they been included in the draft. Ben thought the only possibilities would have been Dominican outfielders Ronald Guzman (who signed with the Rangers for $3.45 million) and Elier Hernandez (Royals, $3.05 million), but neither would have been a lock despite signing for top-of-the-first-round money. You just can't compare the two markets.