Image credit: Ben Cherington (Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Here are a couple of items to keep an eye on during the second day of the MLB draft.
Teams With Money To Spend
It’s impossible to know with any certainty which teams are poised to make big splashes at the start of day two, but we can glean a bit of information and perhaps make an educated guess based on what happened on day one.
There are always teams who cut under-slot deals early on so they can get a few big names on the second or third day of the draft. So who could those teams be this year? Let’s look at a few possibilities:
Perhaps this one is obvious, but the Pirates do have the biggest bonus pool of any team in the draft this year, with a total pool of just over $16 million. Here’s what they did with each of their three picks on day one:
- No. 1 RHP Paul Skenes ($9,721,000 slot value)
- No. 42 SS Mitch Jebb ($2,094,900)
- No. 67 RHP Zander Meuth ($1,128,200)
Skenes shouldn’t be a massive haircut at pick No. 1 but I would be surprised if he got the full slot value of $9.7 million there, so I expect a bit of saving there. Jebb was ranked as the No. 62 player on the BA draft board and most in the industry viewed him as a 2-3 round talent, and he went toward the top of his expected range. This is an assumption, but I’d think he is either a slot pick here in the second round or comes with a bit of saving as well.
High school players always have more leverage, so Meuth could certainly just head to Mississippi if he doesn’t get the bonus he wants. We ranked him as the No. 56 player in the class and he was viewed as a solid second-round talent, so I assume he’s going to receive an over-slot deal as a supplemental second-round selection.
If I’m in the ballpark with the Pirates here with their first three picks, they should have around $3.5-4.5 million to spend in the final two days, though their remaining slot values only sum up to $3.3 million.
The A’s could potentially have locked-in value with each of their first three picks:
- No. 6 SS Jacob Wilson ($6,634,000)
- No. 39 SS Myles Naylor ($2,202,500)
- No. 41 OF Ryan Lasko ($$2,094,900)
Wilson ranked as the No. 9 player in the 2023 class, but it sounded like he had a wide range of potential outcomes in the first round leading up to the draft, so the assumption is he secured a deal with Oakland to be the first player taken after the elite group of top five players were selected. That makes sense for both parties, but should give the team some extra money to work with on day two.
The same could also be true of their next two picks, as both Naylor and Lasko were viewed as 2-3 round talents—admittedly some teams were higher on Naylor and the A’s could simply be one of those. It’s hard to ever assume savings with a high school player in this round, but even if we presume Naylor is getting the full slot value at No. 39, it feels reasonable to think the A’s could have saved some money with both their college players.
They have a total bonus pool of $14,255,600, which is the fourth-most this year, and it feels like they are a team to watch on day two.
The Guardians are consistently value conscious and target under-slot deals in the first round and then use that money to target players they like on the second day. It seems like they are employing that strategy once again in 2023.
- No. 23 C Ralphy Velazquez ($3,380,900)
- No. 58 LHP Alexander Clemmey ($1,402,600)
- No. 62 RHP Andrew Walters ($1,273,700)
Prior to the draft the expectation was for Cleveland to seek savings with its first pick, and while Velazquez is a Boras client, his name wasn’t mentioned too frequently in the first round leading up to the draft. He ranked as the No. 29 player in the class and it could make some sense for him to take a deal and secure a landing spot and a bonus with the Guardians here instead of waiting to see where he fell in the back of the supplemental first or early second-round range. It’s a guess, but I’m assuming there are savings here with this pick.
That’s harder to expect with Clemmey, who ranked as the No. 49 player in the class and was taken in a range that fits directly with his talent. Yes, there are starter/reliever questions, but many scouts in the class viewed his arm talent as among the best available, with some evaluators even saying that there wasn’t as much of a gap between him and the top lefty in the class, Thomas White. If it’s not the full slot value or more at this pick, I’d be surprised.
Some of the players selected on night one have reliever questions, but Walters was the first straight reliever prospect selected. He is also already 22 and was labeled a “priority senior sign” as a player with real draft talent, but one who could come with some built in savings given his lack of leverage. Walters was draft eligible last year but declined to sign in the 18th round with the Orioles and went back to school, where he continued to dominate out of the bullpen with one of the best fastballs in the class. Typically college relievers start to come off the board in the third round and Walters’ age, plus the range he was picked in, makes this feel like another under-slot deal.
I’m assuming Cleveland has some extra money to work with going into day two.
Other Teams To Watch
Tampa Bay Rays
- No. 19 SS Brayden Taylor
- No. 31 SS Adrian Santana
- No. 55 OF Colton Ledbetter
Los Angeles Dodgers
- No. 36 OF Kendall George
- No. 60 3B Jake Gelof
Boston Red Sox
- No. 14 C Kyle Teel
- No. 50 SS Nazzan Zanetello
Who’s Still Available?
At this time last year, righthander Brock Porter, Baseball America’s No. 12 prospect, sat unpicked after day one of the draft. He ended up falling all the way to the fourth round before Porter was picked by the Rangers.
He ended up landing a first round-sized contract as a fourth-round pick.
The year before, righthander Bubba Chandler, No. 12 on the BA 500, fell to the third round where the Pirates, flush with money after picking Henry Davis at No. 1, nabbed him.
In past years, Jack Leiter (No. 21 on the BA 500 in 2019) and Kumar Rocker (No. 13 in 2018) have also slid.
This year, there is no similar top talent left at the top of the board. This year, no top-35 player on the BA 500 remains available for day two. There are six top 50 prospects available from the BA 500.
36. Travis Sykora. RHP, Round Rock (Texas) HS
37. Joey Volchko, RHP, Redwood HS, Visalia, Calif.
38. Jack Hurley, OF, Virginia Tech
42. Roch Cholowsky, SS, Hamilton HS, Chandler, Ariz.
43. Cameron Johnson, LHP, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.
46. Juaron Watts-Brown, RHP, Oklahoma State