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See The Highest-Paid 2019 MLB Draft Picks

Image credit: Bobby Witt Jr. (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

With the signing deadline behind us and teams looking at a complete picture of their 2019 draft classes, it’s now possible to break down some of the numbers and see where and how major league teams are spending their money.

It’s also now possible to see how the industry valued the top 34 players in the country. Unlike drafts in other sports, baseball doesn’t have a hard-slotting system, which means the players don’t necessarily get taken in the order that the industry perceives their talent level.

For various financial reasons—or simply because a team values a certain player more or less than the industry does—it can be misleading to look at the first round and think you are looking at the top talent in the class.

Now, though, it’s as simple as lining up the top 34 players in the draft by signing bonus and seeing how different the order looks. Talented high school players like Matthew Allan and Hudson Head fell to the second day of the draft, but they made up for that drop by signing for bonuses that give them first-round bank accounts, even if they won’t be referred to as first-round picks.

Below, you can see how the 34 highest-paid 2019 draftees line up.

1. Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State ($8,100,000)
2. Bobby Witt, SS, Colleyville (Texas) Heritage HS ($7,787,400)
3. Andrew Vaughn, 1B, California ($7,221,200)
4. JJ Bleday, OF, Vanderbilt ($6,670,000)
5. Riley Greene, OF, Hagerty HS, Oviedo, Fla. ($6,180,700)
6. Nick Lodolo, LHP, Texas Christian ($5,432,400)
7. CJ Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity HS, Roswell, Ga. ($5,200,000)
8. Alek Manoah, RHP, West Virginia ($4,547,500)
9. Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Tech ($4,400,000)
10. Hunter Bishop, OF, Arizona State ($4,097,500)
11. Keoni Cavaco, SS, Eastlake HS, Chula Vista, Calif. ($4,050,000)
12. Shea Langeliers, C, Baylor ($3,997,500)
13. Brett Baty, 3B, Lake Travis HS, Austin ($3,900,000)
14. Bryson Stott, SS, Nevada-Las Vegas ($3,900,000)
15. Corbin Carroll, OF, Lakeside HS, Seattle ($3,745,500)
16. Jackson Rutledge, RHP, San Jacinto (Texas) JC ($3,450,000)
17. Quinn Priester, RHP, Cary-Grove HS, Cary, Ill. ($3,400,000)
18. Will Wilson, SS, North Carolina State ($3,397,500)
19. George Kirby, RHP, Elon ($3,242,900)
20. Braden Shewmake, SS, Texas A&M ($3,129,800)
21. Greg Jones, SS, UNC Wilmington ($3,024,500)
22. Zack Thompson, LHP, Kentucky ($3,000,000)
23. Hudson Head, OF, Churchill HS, San Antonio ($3,000,000)
24. Kody Hoese, 3B, Tulane ($2,740,300)
25. Anthony Volpe, SS, Delbarton HS, Morristown, N.J. ($2,740,300)
26. Michael Toglia, 1B, UCLA ($2,725,000)
27. Daniel Espino, RHP, Georgia Premier Academy, Statesboro, Ga. ($2,500,000)
28. Matthew Allan, RHP, Seminole HS, Sanford, Fla. ($2,500,000)
29. Blake Walston, LHP, New Hanover HS, Wilmington, N.C. ($2,450,000)
30. Logan Davidson, SS, Clemson ($2,424,600)
31. Michael Busch, 2B, North Carolina ($2,312,000)
32. Gunnar Henderson, SS, Morgan Academy, Selma, Ala. ($2,300,000)
33. Brady McConnell, SS, Florida ($2,222,500)
34. Brennan Malone, RHP, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. ($2,202,200)

Seeing how the money breaks down across different position groups can also be informative. Here are the top money-makers for each position group, as well as average signing bonus numbers for the total position group and the top 10 players at each group.

Top Paid Catchers
Top 10 Average Bonus — $1,746,750
Total (73) Average Bonus — $312,214

Adley Rutschman set the all-time bonus record by signing for $100,000 more than Gerrit Cole did as the No. 1 overall selection by the Pirates in 2011. Rutschman topped the previous record for a catcher’s bonus by more than a million, clearing 2018 No. 2 overall pick Joey Bart’s $7,025,000 mark.

Teams largely prefer spending money on college catchers, as the high school backstop profiles is among the riskiest in the draft. That sentiment is made obvious by the fact that Ethan Hearn was the sole prep catcher to appear among the top 10 catcher bonuses.

1. Adley Rutschman, Oregon State (Orioles) — $8,100,000
2. Shea Langeliers, Baylor (Braves) — $3,997,500
3. Korey Lee, California (Astros) — $1,750,000
4. Ethan Hearn, Mobile (Ala.) Christian HS (Cubs) — $950,000
5. Logan Driscoll, George Mason (Padres) — $600,000
6. Kyle McCann, Georgia Tech (Athletics) — $500,000
7. Philip Clarke, Vanderbilt (Blue Jays) — $497,500
8. Thomas Dillard, Mississippi (Brewers) — $397,500
9. Carter Bins, Fresno State (Mariners) — $350,000
10. Nick Kahle, Washington (Brewers) — $325,000

Top Paid First Basemen
Top 10 Average Bonus — $1,405,380
Total (38) Average Bonus — $404,587

Andrew Vaughn set the new record for highest-paid first baseman, surpassing Brendan McKay’s $7,005,000 bonus in 2017. McKay’s bonus was high because of his two-way status out of Louisville, however, and the previous high bonus for a first baseman outside of him was Eric Hosmer’s $6,000,000 bonus after the Royals took him with the No. 3 overall pick in 2008 out of American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) High.

1. Andrew Vaughn, California (White Sox) — $7,221,200
2. Michael Toglia, UCLA (Rockies) — $2,725,000
3. Logan Wyatt, Louisville (Giants) — $997,500
4. Garrett Frechette, Orange (Calif.) Lutheran HS (Giants) — $797,500
5. Joseph Naranjo, Ayala HS, Chino Hills, Calif. (Indians) — $770,000
6. Tristin English, Georgia Tech (Diamondbacks) — $500,000
7. Mahki Backstrom, Serra HS, Gardena, Calif. (Braves) — $397,500
8. Andrew Daschbach, Stanford (Orioles) — $250,000
9. Jake Guenther, Texas Christian (Rays) — $197,600
10. Bryce Ball, Dallas Baptist (Braves) — $197,500

Top Paid Third Basemen
Top 10 Average Bonus — $1,820,750
Total (36) Average Bonus — $559,919

Third base is a lucrative position, as the group averaged the second-highest bonus when accounting for all players who signed. It’s unsurprising considering the track record of third basemen taken early in the draft and the fact that, generally, the position is full of the best hitters in the class.

Josh Jung was the most lucrative third baseman in the 2019 class, but his $4,400,000 bonus ranks just eighth all time. Kris Bryant is still the most expensive third baseman after signing for $6,708,400 as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft. Texas slugger Brett Baty surpassed Nicholas Castellanos’ $3,450,000 bonus in 2010 to become the highest-paid high school third baseman in draft history.

1. Josh Jung, Texas Tech (Rangers) — $4,400,000
2. Brett Baty, Lake Travis HS, Austin (Mets) — $3,900,000
3. Kody Hoese, Tulane (Dodgers) — $2,740,300
4. Davis Wendzel, Baylor (Rangers) — $1,600,000
5. Nick Quintana, Arizona (Tigers) — $1,580,200
6. Aaron Schunk, Georgia (Rockies) — $1,102,700
7. Jared Triolo, Houston (Pirates) — $868,200
8. Drew Mendoza, Florida State (Nationals) — $800,000
9. Andre Lipcius, Tennessee (Tigers) — $733,100
10. Seth Gray, Wright State (Twins) — $483,000

Top Paid Shortstops
Top 10 Average Bonus — $3,795,410
Total (97) Average Bonus — $668,855

If you want to get paid, play shortstop. This is the position group that averaged the highest bonus in the 2019 class, both among the top 10 players for each position group and among all signed players. Shortstops become stars, either by sticking at the position at the major league level (Derek Jeter, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa), moving to third base (Chipper Jones, Manny Machado, Alex Bregman) or even the outfield (Gary Sheffield, Justin Upton, Adam Jones). By playing the toughest non-catcher position in the field and throwing righthanded, shortstops have the most flexibility on the positional spectrum and regularly find success at other positions if necessary.

The 2019 college shortstop class was routinely praised by scouts throughout the year, but it was three high school shortstops who topped the signing bonus list. Both Bobby Witt Jr.  and CJ Abrams signed for enough to join the list of top 10 highest paid shortstops of all time. In fact, Witt Jr. set the new bar for a shortstop signing bonus and is now the third-highest paid player in draft history behind Rutschman and Cole.

1. Bobby Witt, Colleyville (Texas) Heritage HS (Royals) — $7,787,400
2. CJ Abrams, Blessed Trinity HS, Roswell, Ga. (Padres) — $5,200,000
3. Keoni Cavaco, Eastlake HS, Chula Vista, Calif. (Twins) — $4,050,000
4. Bryson Stott, Nevada-Las Vegas (Phillies) — $3,900,000
5. Will Wilson, North Carolina State (Angels) — $3,397,500
6. Braden Shewmake, Texas A&M (Braves) — $3,129,800
7. Greg Jones, UNC Wilmington (Rays) — $3,024,500
8. Anthony Volpe, Delbarton HS, Morristown, N.J. (Yankees) — $2,740,300
9. Logan Davidson, Clemson (Athletics) — $2,424,600
10. Gunnar Henderson, Morgan Academy, Selma, Ala. (Orioles) — $2,300,000
11. Brady McConnell, Florida (Royals) — $2,222,500
12. Nasim Nunez, Collins Hill HS, Suwanee, Ga. (Marlins) — $2,200,000
13. Rece Hinds, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (Reds) — $1,797,500
14. Kyren Paris, Freedom HS, Oakley, Calif. (Angels) — $1,400,000
15. Cameron Cannon, Arizona (Red Sox) — $1,300,000
16. Matthew Lugo, Beltran Baseball Academy, Florida, P.R. (Red Sox) — $1,100,000
17. Yordys Valdes, McArthur HS, Hollywood, Fla. (Indians) — $1,001,000
18. Christian Cairo, Calvary Christian HS, Clearwater, Fla. (Indians) — $955,000
19. Cody Freeman, Etiwanda HS, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. (Rangers) — $900,000
20. Glenallen Hill, Baylor (Diamondbacks) — $850,000

Top Paid Second Basemen
Top 10 Average Bonus — $799,750
Total (38) Average Bonus — $244,947

Second baseman averaged the least amount in the 2019 class and was the only position group where the top 10 players didn’t average at least $1 million. Only Michael Busch, Tyler Callihan and Chase Strumpf signed for more than a million, and Busch and Callihan hardly spent any time at second base prior to getting drafted at the position.

Defensive questions generally surround second base prospects and only 12 players have been drafted as first-round second baseman this century, with Busch joining that group this year. But even with Busch, it’s possible that he winds up at first base or corner outfield in the future. Keston Hiura ($4,000,000) has the highest signing bonus for a second baseman, followed by Rickie Weeks ($3,600,000) and now Busch.

1. Michael Busch, North Carolina (Dodgers) — $2,312,000
2. Tyler Callihan, Providence HS, Jacksonville (Reds) — $1,497,500
3. Chase Strumpf, UCLA (Cubs) — $1,050,300
4. Josh Smith, Louisiana State (Yankees) — $976,700
5. Eduoard Julien, Auburn (Twins) — $493,000
6. Michael Massey, Illinois (Royals) — $472,500
7. Gabe Holt, Texas Tech (Brewers) — $450,000
8. Ivan Johnson, Chipola (Fla.) JC (Reds) — $397,500
9. Cody Milligan, Cowley County (Kan.) JC (Braves) — $197,500
10. Isaac Collins, Creighton (Rockies) — $150,500

Top Paid Outfielders
Top 10 Average Bonus — $3,225,870
Total (158) Average Bonus — $368,208

The top 10 outfielders in the class averaged the second-highest bonus behind only shortstop, although the number of outfielders selected and signed brings the average overall bonus down to the middle of the pack.

JJ Bleday was one of just two players (along with prep shortstop Anthony Volpe) who signed over-slot deals in the first round in 2019, and his $6,670,000 signing bonus is the most money any college outfielder has ever signed for. Bubba Starling—taken by the Royals with the No. 5 overall pick in 2011—is still responsible for the highest bonus by an outfielder of any source in the draft, while Bryce Harper and Donavan Tate are tied for third behind Starling and Bleday with $6,250,000 bonuses. Riley Greene entered the top five outfielders with a $6,180,700 bonus.

1. JJ Bleday, Vanderbilt (Marlins) —$ 6,670,000
2. Riley Greene, Hagerty HS, Oviedo, Fla. (Tigers) — $6,180,700
3. Hunter Bishop, Arizona State (Giants) — $4,097,500
4. Corbin Carroll, Lakeside HS, Seattle (Diamondbacks) — $3,745,500
5. Hudson Head, Churchill HS, San Antonio (Padres) — $3,000,000
6. Sammy Siani, Penn Charter HS, Philadelphia (Pirates) — $2,150,000
7. Kameron Misner, Missouri (Marlins) — $2,115,000
8. Matt Wallner, Southern Mississippi (Twins) — $1,800,000
9. Trejyn Fletcher, Deering HS, Portland, Maine (Cardinals) — $1,500,000
10. Joshua Mears, Federal Way (Wash.) HS (Padres) — $1,000,000
11. Matt Gorski, Indiana (Pirates) —$ 1,000,000
12. Colin Barber, Pleasant Valley HS, Chico, Calif. (Astros) — $1,000,000
13. Kyle Stowers, Stanford (Orioles) — $884,200
14. Dasan Brown, Abbey Park HS, Oakville, Ont. (Blue Jays) — $797,500
15. Zach Watson, Louisiana State (Orioles) — $780,400
16. Dominic Fletcher, Arkansas (Diamondbacks) — $700,000
17. Grant McCray, Lakewood Ranch HS, Bradenton, Fla. (Giants) — $697,500
18. Jake Sanford, Western Kentucky (Yankees) — $597,500
19. Erik Rivera, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Gurabo, P.R. (Angels) — $597,500
20. Stephen Paolini, St. Joseph HS, Trumbull, Conn. (Braves) — $597,500

Top Paid Righthanders
Top 10 Average Bonus — $2,813,550
Total (393) Average Bonus — $236,904

It was a down year for pitching, and that’s reflected in the signing bonuses. Alek Manoah’s $4,547,500 bonus was the highest of the 2019 class, but good for just 14th among righthanders all time. Manoah was the first righthander selected in the draft and on only two other occasions (1975 and 1980) did it take until the 11th pick for a righthander to get selected.

It was a notable year for junior college righthanders, however, as Jackson Rutledge became the ninth member of that demographic to sign for at least $1 million and set a new record for JuCo righthanders by surpassing Nate Pearson’s 2017 bonus ($2,452,900) with the Blue Jays.

Righthanders are coveted, and the top 10 players of the group averaged the third-highest bonus behind shortstops and outfielders, but the vast number of righthanders selected drags the overall average down to last.

1. Alek Manoah, West Virginia (Blue Jays) — $4,547,500
2. Jackson Rutledge, San Jacinto (Texas) JC (Nationals) — $3,450,000
3. Quinn Priester, Cary-Grove HS, Cary, Ill. (Pirates) — $3,400,000
4. George Kirby, Elon (Mariners) — $3,242,900
5. Daniel Espino, Georgia Premier Academy, Statesboro, Ga. (Indians) — $2,500,000
6. Matthew Allan, Seminole HS, Sanford, Fla. (Mets) — $2,500,000
7. Brennan Malone, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (Diamondbacks) — $2,202,200
8. Josh Wolf, St. Thomas HS, Houston (Mets) — $2,150,000
9. Matthew Thompson, Cypress Ranch HS, Houston (White Sox) — $2,100,000
10. JJ Goss, Cypress Ranch HS, Houston (Rays) — $2,042,900
11. Ryan Jensen, Fresno State (Cubs) — $2,000,000
12. Andrew Dalquist, Redondo Union HS, Redondo Beach, Calif. (White Sox) — $2,000,000
13. Seth Johnson, Campbell (Rays) — $1,722,500
14. Kendall Williams, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (Blue Jays) — $1,547,500
15. Evan Fitterer, Aliso Niguel HS, Aliso Viejo, Calif. (Marlins) — $1,500,000
16. Ryan Garcia, UCLA (Rangers) — $1,469,900
17. Drey Jameson, Ball State (Diamondbacks) — $1,40,0000
18. Jack Kochanowicz, Harriton HS, Rosemont, Pa. (Angels) — $1,247,500
19. Matt Canterino, Rice (Twins) — $1,100,000
20. Ryne Nelson, Oregon (Diamondbacks) — $1,100,000
21. Jimmy Lewis, Lake Travis HS, Austin (Dodgers) — $1,097,500
22. Alec Marsh, Arizona State (Royals) — $904,300
23. Tyler Baum, North Carolina (Athletics) — $900,000
24. Isaiah Campbell, Arkansas (Mariners) — $850,000
25. Karl Kauffmann, Michigan (Rockies) — $805,600

Top Paid Lefthanders
Top 10 Average Bonus — $1,938,200
Total (127) Average Bonus — $266,638

It was a down year for pitching across the board, and that impacted lefties as well as righties. Lodolo was the first pitcher (of either hand) selected, and his $5,432,400 bonus with the Reds makes him the fifth-highest paid southpaw in the draft, behind MacKenzie Gore ($6,700,000), Carlos Rodon ($6,582,000), Danny Hultzen ($6,350,000) and David Price ($5,600,000).

Blake Walston was the highest-paid prep lefty in the 2019 class and one of just 10 high school lefthanders who signed this year. His $2,450,000 bonus is good for 19th all time among prep lefties.

1. Nick Lodolo, Texas Christian (Reds) — $5,432,400
2. Zack Thompson, Kentucky (Cardinals) — $3,000,000
3. Blake Walston, New Hanover HS, Wilmington, N.C. (Diamondbacks) — $2,450,000
4. T.J. Sikkema, Missouri (Yankees) — $1,949,800
5. Ethan Small, Mississippi State (Brewers) — $1,800,000
6. John Doxakis, Texas A&M (Rays) — $1,127,200
7. Antoine Kelly, Wabash Valley (Ill.) JC (Brewers) — $1,025,100
8. Brandon Williamson, Texas Christian (Mariners) — $925,000
9. Avery Short, Southport HS, Indianapolis (Diamondbacks) — $922,500
10. Tommy Henry, Michigan (Diamondbacks) — $750,000

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