• Baseball America will unveil its annual Top 100 Prospect report online tomorrow, along with some combination of chats, podcasts and maybe even a Google+ Hangout. In an unfortunate coincidence that I didn't realize until two days ago, I have jury duty tomorrow, so I'll miss most of the festivities. I'll see if I can record a BA podcast today, and maybe I'll host a Twitter chat at @jimcallisBA on Wednesday.
• The NCAA Division I college baseball season began Friday. Aaron Fitt provides exhaustive recaps every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, allowing you to stay on top of everything that's going on. There were a number of upsets on the opening weekend, though No. 1 North Carolina won both of its games against Seton Hall.
• The Indians agreed to a four-year, $48 million contract with center fielder Michael Bourn, formerly of the Braves, last Monday. As a result, Atlanta gets a first-round compensation pick (currently No. 31) and the first round now increases to 33 selections. Cleveland's competitive-balance lottery choice in the supplemental second round (which had been No. 69) also disappears. The Braves gain roughly $1.67 million in bonus-pool money for the top 10 rounds, while the Indians lose about $790,000.
Bourn's signing leaves Kyle Lohse as the lone remaining compensation free agent on the market. If he signs with anyone besides the Cardinals, St. Louis will gain the No. 29 pick in return. The signing club would lose its first-rounder, provided it's not one of the top 10 selections.
Here's the draft order as it currently stands today.
7. Red Sox
9. Pirates (for failure to sign 2012 first-rounder Mark Appel)
10. Blue Jays
18. White Sox
Angels (forfeited No. 22 pick for free agent Josh Hamilton)
Braves (forfeited No. 28 pick for free agent B.J. Upton)
Nationals (forfeited No. 31 pick for free agent Rafael Soriano)
xx. Cardinals (potential pick for free agent Kyle Lohse)
29. Rays (for Upton)
30. Rangers (for Hamilton)
31. Braves (for free agent Michael Bourn)
32. Yankees (for free agent Nick Swisher)
33. Yankees (for Soriano)
Supplemental First Round (Competitive-Balance Lottery Picks)
35. Marlins (acquired from Pirates)
39. Tigers (acquired from Marlins)
Indians (forfeited fifth pick in round for Swisher)
Supplemental Second Round (Competitive-Balance Lottery Picks)
Indians (forfeited second pick in round for Bourn)
73. Marlins (acquired from Tigers)
76. Mets (for failure to sign 2012 second-rounder Teddy Stankewicz)
96. Phillies (for failure to sign 2012 second-rounder Alec Rash)
Supplemental Third Round
106. Athletics (for failure to sign 2012 third-rounder Kyle Twomey)
My top five consists solely of 2013 and 2014 draft prospects. I defer to our Ben Badler on international matters, and he says there's no one in this year's signing class who merits being on the list. I'm not including Cuban players who haven't defected or Japanese or Korean big leaguers who haven't become available yet, because there's no certainty that they will.
1. Carlos Rodon, lhp, North Carolina State (2014 draft)
His 92-96 mph fastball and his slider are unhittable.
2. Mark Appel, rhp, Stanford (2013 draft)
Entered 2012 as top draft prospect, did the same this year.
3. Austin Meadows, of, Grayson HS, Loganville, Ga. (2013 draft)
Grayson also has nation's top prep football prospect this year (Robert Nkemdiche).
4. Sean Manaea, lhp, Indiana State (2013 draft)
Dominated Cape Cod League with mid-90s fastball that touched 98 mph.
5. Alex Jackson, c/of, Rancho Bernardo HS, San Diego (2014 draft)
Owns plus power and may be able to stay behind the plate.
In terms of where they'd fit on my personal Top 100, the best way to look at that is to stack them up against prospects at the same position. I like Rodon more than lefthanders Tyler Skaggs (Diamondbacks, No. 20 on my list) and Danny Hultzen (Mariners, No. 22), so he'd fit in the teens somewhere. Appel rated slightly ahead of fellow college righthanders Kevin Gausman (Orioles, No. 23) and Kyle Zimmer (Royals, No. 24) in the 2012 draft, and I'd also put him in front of Hultzen.
Meadows would fit in the same range as recent high school top-six outfield picks Albert Almora (Cubs, No. 36) and Bubba Starling (Royals, No. 37). Depending on how you want to look at it, Meadows is toolsier than Almora and more polished than Starling, and also less polished than Almora and less toolsy than Starling. I'd put Meadows behind them both.
Manaea will rise on this list if he shows better and more consistent secondary pitches this spring. For now, I'd put him right behind Meadows, which puts him a couple spots ahead of lefty Andrew Heaney (Marlins, No. 40), who has more pitchability but less raw stuff.
Jackson is hard to place because there aren't a lot of quality catching prospects in pro ball and because he's also not a lock to stay behind the plate. He's also a high schooler two years away from turning pro. I'd put him somewhere close behind Gary Sanchez (Yankees, No. 61), who has a similar offensive profile, a track record of hitting in pro ball and a better chance to remain a catcher.
Looking at the lists as they appeared in the 2013 Prospect Handbook, there were 95 college or junior college players who made organization Top 10s. Florida and Texas A&M led all schools with four Top 10 Prospects. The Gators have Mike Zunino (Mariners, No. 1), Nick Maronde (Angels, No. 2), Paco Rodriguez (Dodgers, No. 8) and Nolan Fontana (Astros, No. 10), while the Aggies can boast of Tyler Naquin (Indians, No. 3), Michael Wacha (Cardinals, No. 6), John Stilson (Blue Jays, No. 7) and Ross Stripling (Dodgers, No. 10).
Connecticut was one of four schools with three Top 10ers, joining Clemson, Stanford and Texas Tech. Here's a complete list of every school with multiple Top 10 Prospects:
|Florida||4||Mike Zunino (Sea/1), Nick Maronde (LAA/2), Paco Rodriguez (LAD/8), Nolan Fontana (Hou/10)|
|Texas A&M||4||Tyler Naquin (Cle/3), Michael Wacha (StL/6), John Stilson (Tor/7), Ross Stripling (LAD/10)|
|Clemson||3||Kyle Parker (Col/4), Richie Shaffer (TB/7), Brad Miller (Sea/9)|
|Connecticut||3||Mike Olt (Tex/2), Matt Barnes (Bos/3), George Springer (Hou/3)|
|Stanford||3||Chris Reed (LAD/6), Scott Snodgress (CWS/6), Stephen Piscotty (StL/10)|
|Texas Tech||3||Chad Bettis (Col/5), Barrett Barnes (Pit/9), Roger Kieschnick (SF/9)|
|Alabama||2||Adam Morgan (Phi/5), Jimmy Nelson (Mil/5)|
|California||2||Erik Johnson (CWS/4), Brett Jackson (ChC/5)|
|Georgia||2||Justin Grimm (Tex/5), Alex Wood (Atl/7)|
|Georgia Southern||2||Victor Roache (Mil/7), Chris Beck (CWS/10)|
|Louisiana State||2||Kevin Gausman (Bal/2), Jared Mitchell (CWS/9)|
|Missouri State||2||Mike Kickham (SF/5), Pierce Johnson (ChC/6)|
|Southern California||2||Austin Wood (LAA/5), Grant Green (Oak/8)|
|UCLA||2||Gerrit Cole (Pit/1), Trevor Bauer (Ari/2)|
|Vanderbilt||2||Sonny Gray (Oak/5), Sam Selman (KC/6)|
|Virginia||2||Danny Hultzen (Sea/3), Branden Kline (Bal/9)|
The last sentence of CBA Article XX (B) (4) (a) (iii) provides the answer to both of Ryan's questions:
A Qualified Free Agent who signs a bona fide Minor League contract shall not be subject to compensation irrespective of whether the Minor League contract is subsequently assigned to the Major League Club provided that the execution of the Minor League contract and the subsequent assignment were not the product of an agreement or understanding designed to circumvent Article XX (B) (3) and (4).
Teams don't have to give up a draft pick if they legitimately sign a qualifying-offer free agent to a minor league contract. But MLB would strike down any sort of gentleman's agreement to do so in order to circumvent compensation.
A club also could avoid compensation by waiting until after the June 6-8 draft to sign Lohse, though it's unlikely that he'll have to wait that long to find a new team. The most likely scenario is that a team that already has added a draft choice through free-agent compensation or the competitive-balance lottery will decide it needs more pitching and will turn to Lohse in the next couple of weeks.