Ask BA

If you have a question, send it to askba@baseballamerica.com. Please include your full name and hometown if you'd like your letter to be considered for use in an upcoming column. Also, please understand that we can't respond to every question.




Follow me on Twitter

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.  

« July 10 Ask BA