Draft : : Story
Year in Review: MLB Draft
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
As 2011 comes to a close Perfect Game will be providing a four-part series looking back at some of the more notable storylines from the past year.
On Tuesday, December 27, Kendall Rogers will break down the top 10 headlines from the college level, Jeff Dahn will do so covering the summer high school travel ball tournaments on Tuesday, January 3, and Todd Gold and Ben Collman will take a look at the high school season from the past year on January 5.
Today we start the series by breaking down the 10 biggest draft-related stories that emerged this past year.
10. Hinojosa states, reverses intention to enroll early
Star infielder and Perfect Game All-American C.J. Hinojosa, currently ranked the 22nd best 2012 prospect at the high school level, announced early in the fall that he intended to enroll at Texas during the second semester of the 2011-2012 school year. He has since reversed his decision, but that move would have made him ineligible for the draft until 2014.
Right-handed pitcher Trevor Megill (ranked 76th in the class of 2012), Catcher Taylor Gushue (129) and infielder Fernando Perez (103) also expressed their intent to enroll early, at Loyola Marymount, Florida and Central Arizona Community College respectively. Perez would remain eligible for the 2012 draft as a juco player, gaining experience in the spring playing against advanced competition.
Another Perfect Game All-American from the class of 2012, Chris Harvey, is already in college, enrolling at Vanderbilt a year early.
9. First-rounder Beede to Vandy; Second-rounder Norris to Jays
Two former All-American pitchers, Tyler Beede and Daniel Norris, approached the 2011 draft making it perfectly clear that big money would be required for them to not honor their college commitments to Vanderbilt and Clemson respectively. The Toronto Blue Jays took the chance on both of them, as well as a second promising Vanderbilt pitching recruit in Kevin Comer, and walked away with two of the three pitchers.
Their first pick in the draft, Tyler Beede, was the unsigned player of the three, and is projected to start the 2012 season as the Commodores' Sunday starter. Norris signed for $2 million as a second-round pick while Comer signed for $1.65 million. Overall the Blue Jays signed their four sandwich picks and two second rounders for over $6.5 million.
8. Padres sign all but one in top 23 rounds
The San Diego Padres, even with an additional first-round pick and three supplemental first-round picks due to departed free agents during the 2010-2011 offseason, managed to sign all but one of their picks selected in the top 23 rounds. Overall they signed 34 of their top 39 selections, including second rounder Austin Hedges for $3 million. Their lone unsigned pick in the top 23 rounds was supplemental first-rounder Brett Austin, who is now at North Carolina State.
7. Big names from untraditional locales
Several of the top high school players available for the 2011 draft hailed from untraditional scouting locations. While the traditionally largest talent-producing states such as Florida, California, Texas and Georgia still had plenty of prospects to choose from, players such as crosstown rivals Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley (Oklahoma), Bubba Starling (Kansas), Brandon Nimmo (Wyoming) and Blake Swihart (New Mexico) made it unique. All five of these players were selected in the first round.
6. Nationals spend $15.4M on first four picks
After spending a total of $25 million, including $13.75 million in bonuses, on the No. 1 overall picks from both 2009 and 2010, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, the Nationals appeared to prepare themselves with a similar budget for the 2011 draft.
Armed with an additional first and supplemental first-round pick, the Nationals selected Anthony Rendon, Alex Meyer, Brian Goodwin and Matt Purke for a combined $15.4 million. Rendon received $6 million of that, falling to the sixth overall pick with concerns about his shoulder after entering the season as a favorite to go first overall.
Purke, who also entered the spring as a potential, premium first-round pick, received $4.4 million as the Nationals third-round pick.
5. College arms define 1st round; Cole, Bauer highest drafted teammates
Pitching was identified early as a strength of the 2011 draft crop, particularly from the college ranks, and that rang true on draft day. 11 college pitchers were drafted in the first round, including the top three overall selections in Gerrit Cole (UCLA), Danny Hultzen (Virginia) and Trevor Bauer (UCLA).
Taylor Jungmann (Texas), Jed Bradley (Georgia Tech), Chris Reed (Stanford), Sonny Gray (Vanderbilt), Matt Barnes (Connecticut), Tyler Anderson (Oregon), Alex Meyer (Kentucky) and Sean Gilmartin (Florida State) also went in the first round.
Cole and Bauer (first and third overall) became the highest drafted teammates since Phillip Humber, Jeff Niemann and Wade Townsend were selected with three of the first eight picks out of Rice.
4. Rays select, sign 10 1st-rounders
Leading up to draft day, the Rays got a lot of attention for owning 10 picks in the first and supplemental first-round, as well as two second-round picks, due to the loss of four Type A free agents during the 2010-11 offseason.
Much of the discussion surrounded around how the Rays would approach those picks, and whether they would budget appropriately to sign all of the picks and/or reach for a player or two that wouldn't have otherwise been selected that high. It also wasn't out of the question that they take a player considered to be a more difficult sign, knowing they could always receive a compensation pick in the 2012 draft if that player didn't sign.
None of that was really an issue, as the Rays signed all 10 of their first-rounders, all 14 of their picks in the top four rounds and 20 of their first 21 overall selections. As noted in a previous story, based on Perfect Game's pre-draft player rankings, the Rays didn't reach for any of their picks, outside of James Harris who still signed for close to slot value.
The 10 first-round picks signed for roughly $8.9 million, just under $900,000 per player. The 20 players they signed in the top 10 rounds took a collective $11.3 million to get in the fold.
3. Pirates' haul
Owning the first overall pick, everyone knew the Pirates would have to allocate a large sum of money to get whoever they took in the organization. It has been well documented that the Pirates have been spending more on the draft, so no one expected them to reach for a player in an effort to save money.
That rang true with the selection of Gerrit Cole, however, they turned quite a few heads when they took Josh Bell with the first pick in the second round, a player who made it explicitly clear prior to the draft that it would take a very large sum of money to keep him off of Texas' campus. When the Pirates actually got Bell to sign the dotted line with a $5 million bonus, it came as a shock to almost everyone.
With Cole and Bell alone the Pirates added two potential impact players to their system, and they continued their efforts on draft day by signing all of the players they selected in the top 10 rounds, including ninth-round pick Clayton Holmes for $1.2 million.
2. Bonuses continue to explode
It's easy to tell reading the comments leading up to this one that the money involved with the draft stole most of the headlines, which led to the newly ratified Collective Bargaining Agreement as mentioned below.
Teams spent $228 million on draft bonuses in 2011, up 16% from 2010, and an average of $2.65 million was spent on each first-round pick, breaking a record set in 2008. The Pirates led the way largely due to the money given to Cole and Bell with the Nationals close behind.
1. New CBA set to curtail bonus influx
Since teams were clearly not paying much attention to the pre-determined slot recommendations from Major League Baseball's commissioner's office, it was time for the draft to be seriously re-defined with the introduction of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. In previous years, there had been big rumors about potential changes to the draft, but only small changes were made along the way.
The biggest of the changes is that MLB will now assign a slot value to every pick within the top 10 rounds, and every team will be given a draft pool based on the picks they own within those rounds. While teams don't have to pay a player the designated amount based on the slot, their overall expenditures can't exceed the assigned pool value without being subject to a penalty.
For more details on how the new CBA will affect the draft, and for an updated draft order due to free agent compensation, please visit this story.
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