Draft : : Story
Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 Year in Review: MLB Draft

Patrick Ebert        
Photo: Stanford

As part of a four-part series Perfect Game will highlight the top 10 storylines from the 2013 MLB Draft, from Perfect Game's Showcase and Tournament events (Jeff Dahn) as well as those from both College (Kendall Rogers) and High School (Todd Gold) baseball.

The 2013 MLB Draft marked the second year under the new rules of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement put in place to limit what teams can spend on players with the implementation of a signing bonus pool assigned to each team based on the number of picks they own and at what slots. And for the second year in a row, the new rules have done what they were intended to do: Keep bonuses down while also giving all teams an equal and fair opportunity to select the best players at their respective slots.

From the bonuses to the balance of high school and college players, as well as the balance between position players and pitchers, the 2013 draft was pretty balanced across the board, with very few surprises.

Also, the new draft rules drastically reduced the number of compensation picks awarded to teams for free agents lost during the offseason. In 2012 there were 29 supplemental first-round picks awarded to teams that lost free agents, which essentially added another round to the draft between the first and second rounds. In 2013 that number dropped to six, and at this point in time there will be no more than eight (check!) such picks in 2014.

With significantly fewer compensatory selections, teams that finished with the worst records in baseball the previous year benefit by making their second round selections much earlier than they have in recent years.

Those same teams, as well as those that play in smaller markets, also benefitted with the introduction of Competitive Balance Lottery selections after the first and second rounds.

Here are the top 10 Perfect Game storylines from the 2013 MLB Draft:

10. All-Americans go early

Although no new record was established for the number of PG All-Americans in the first round of the draft, as there was in both 2011 and 2012, 15 former All-Americans were taken in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft. Thirteen of these 15 players had participated in the 2012 Classic the summer before.

The highest of such players was Golden Spikes Award winner Kris Bryant, who enjoyed an incredible year at the University of San Diego and who participated in the 2009 Classic. Four more All-Americans were selected among the top 10 overall picks: Kohl Stewart, Clint Frazier, Trey Ball and Austin Meadows.

In addition, nearly half (35 of 73) of the players selected on Day 1 of the draft (rounds 1-2) had previously attended a Perfect Game National Showcase, including the No. 1 overall pick, Mark Appel (2008). Twenty-five of the 35 PG National alumni had attended the event in 2012 prior to their senior years in high school.

9. Balanced draft

Many to most draft years are often distinguished by what players at what levels and overall positions define the year's strengths and weaknesses. The 2013 draft proved to be very balanced, with nearly an equal number of high school and college players taken early, as well as position players as compared to their pitching counterparts.

In the first round, 15 players were drafted out of high school as compared to 17 from college, with one player being drafted from the junior college ranks (Tim Anderson). Eighteen of the 33 first-round picks were position prospects and 15 were pitchers.

Of the top 105 overall selections (top three rounds) that trend for the most part continued. Of those picks 48 were drafted out of high school, 51 from college and six from junior college. Fifty of the top 105 selections were position prospects and 55 were pitchers.

The slight preference toward college players early was a shift from 2012, when 35 of the top 60 players selected hailed from the prep ranks.

8. Pirates load up after missing on Appel

After failing to sign their top pick in the 2012 draft, Mark Appel, who fell to the eighth overall pick after entering the spring as one of the favorites to go first overall, the Pittsburgh Pirates were awarded the ninth overall pick in the 2013 draft as compensation. They used that pick to take five-tool PG All-American outfielder Austin Meadows, and followed that selection with another All-American player from the prep ranks, catcher Reese McGuire, with the 14
th pick.

The two players signed for nearly $5.4 million, just $200,000 less their combined slot value, and bolster an already strong Pirates farm system for an organization whose parent club finished the 2013 season over .500 for the first time since 1992 and advanced to the postseason. 2004 PG All-American Andrew McCutchen, the only player to record four hits in the Classic, was named the National League's Most Valuable Player.

7. College trio surges toward top

For the most part, the highest ranked players that entered the spring scouting season ended up being selected at or near the top of the draft. A trio of college players, Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray, Mississippi State's Hunter Renfroe and Nevada's Braden Shipley, enjoyed huge springs to become premium draft picks.

All three players were rated among Perfect Game's
initial ranking of the top 100 draft-eligible prospects for 2013 back in January. Renfroe, who was named the Cal Ripken League's top prospect each of the previous two summers, was ranked 26th entering the spring only to be selected 13th overall by the Padres after posting huge numbers for the Bulldogs.

Gray, ranked 58th
 in the preseason, soared up to the No. 3 overall pick (Rockies) thanks to a big spike in fastball velocity, in which he routinely reached or topped triple digits. Gray, along with Appel and Bryant, was among those being considered by the Houston Astros for the No. 1 overall pick.

Converted middle infielder Braden Shipley, ranked 88th
 in the preseason, continued to make huge strides as a primary pitcher, sitting in the low- to mid-90s allowing him to go 15th overall to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

6. Blue Jays miss on first round pick after recent boon

With 13 first and supplemental first-round picks the three previous draft years (2010-12), and 24 combined picked in the top three rounds during that time, the Toronto Blue Jays found themselves in an unfamiliar position in 2013 with no extra, early picks. Because of that, it came as a mild surprise that the team was unable to bring its first round pick, Phil Bickford, in the fold after taking him with the 10th
 overall selection.

That said, Bickford was viewed as one of, if not the most unsignable players eligible for the draft, who reportedly had indicated to teams that he fully intended to honor his commitment to Cal State Fullerton.

The Blue Jays will be in a much more familiar position in 2014, as they were awarded the 11th
 overall pick in next year's draft for not signing Bickford in addition to owning the ninth overall selection.

5. Angels sign all but one pick

For the first time since 1985 (Los Angeles Dodgers) the Los Angeles Angels signed all but one of their 39 selections. Their lone unsigned pick came in the form of 12th-round pick Blake Goins who opted to honor his commitment to play for the Texas Longhorns. It should be noted that the Angels forfeited their first-round pick after signing outfielder Josh Hamilton during the 2012-13 offseason.

The Chicago White Sox signed their first 32 picks, followed by the Mariners inking their top 31 selections and the Cardinals coming to terms with their first 28 picks.

4. Royals creatively make room for Manaea

The first and biggest surprise in the draft came in the form of Stephen F. Austin shortstop Hunter Dozier, who was selected by the Kansas City Royals with the eighth overall pick. Dozier, who entered the spring ranked as Perfect Game's 143rd
 best player eligible for the 2013 draft, improved that ranking to PG's 42nd pre-draft player thanks to a year in which he hit .396-17-52 for the Lumberjacks.

While many expected Dozier to taken in to the latter half of the first round, it seemed obvious that the Royals had an ace up their sleeve by taking Dozier as high as they did. That ace came in the form of Indiana State's Sean Manaea with the 34th
 overall selection, the Royals' competitive balance lottery selection and the first-ever such pick in the history of the draft.

Manaea entered the spring as Perfect Game's No. 1 overall ranked draft-eligible prospect, although a nagging hip injury, and subsequent shoulder tightness, led to him falling in the draft.

The Royals signed Manaea for $3.55 million, well over the allotted value for the slot. They did save roughly $900,000 by signing Dozier well below slot value, and made up the rest of the gap by giving their fifth through ninth round picks nearly $750,000 collectively less than their combined slot values.

In addition to signing Manaea, the Royals gave six players they selected and signed after the 10
th round a bonus of $100,000, the maximum amount teams are allowed to spend on picks after the 10th round without those bonuses counting toward the team's draft pool.

3. Mark Appel goes No. 1, finally

Despite being considered one of the favorites to go No. 1 overall in the 2012 draft, and doing nothing but solidifying that with a strong junior campaign, Mark Appel opted to return to Stanford after falling to the eighth overall pick of the 2012 draft as detailed above. With yet another strong season as a senior serving as Stanford's ace, the Houston Astros, who initially passed on Appel with the No. 1 pick in 2012, made the Houston native their pick the second time around.

Appel nearly doubled his professional signing debut, signing for $6.35 million. That amount was nearly $1.5 million less than the value Major League Baseball assigned to the No. 1 overall pick, but was over $2.5 million more than what the Pirates offered him a year ago.

2. Few surprises early

As noted with the Kansas City Royals and their early picks, including both Hunter Dozier and Sean Manaea, there were very few, if any, surprises early in the draft. Even in the case of Manaea, given his injury situation leading up to the draft it was speculated that he could be one player that fell further than expected come draft day, even much further past where the Royals ended up selecting him.

Seven of the top 10 picks were ranked among Perfect Game's final top 50 prospects. Two of the other three, Ryne Stanek and Braden Shipley, were both selected in the first round, with Manaea going 34th overall. Twenty-eight of the 33 players selected in the first round of the draft were also ranked among the top 33 players in that final ranking, and 40 of those 50 players were selected on the first day (top two rounds) of the 2013 draft.

The top six players as ranked (Jonathan Gray, Mark Appel, Kris Bryant, Clit Frazier, Kohl Stewart and Colin Moran) went with the Nos. 3, 1, 2, 5, 4 and 6 picks respectively.

All of this points to the fact that the new rules, including the assigned draft pools, are doing exactly what Major League Baseball intended them to do. Teams aren't as fearful of players not signing under the new system, and for the most part are selecting those players based on their talents and not a combination of their talents and signability.

In addition, with the exception of Phil Bickford – who as noted above made it be known prior to the draft that he intended to honor his commitment to Cal State Fullerton – Matt Krook and Ben DeLuzio, every pick in the top three rounds signed with the teams that drafted them. In the case of Krook, the Marlins had every intent of signing him when they selected him 35
th overall, but when he failed his physical in June the Marlins offered him a reduced bonus offer, of which Krook rejected instead opting to play collegiately at Oregon.

1. Bonuses hold

Not surprisingly in a year with little surprises and with balance and overall stability, the bonuses as put in place by Major League Baseball held. Only two of the 33 players selected in the first round signed for bonuses higher than their slot values – Alex Gonzalez and Travis Demeritte.

Sixteen of the 33 players taken in the first round signed for exactly slot value, while everyone else signed for a bonus amount less than the allotted slot value, including the No. 1 overall pick, Mark Appel, as noted above.

Only 11 teams spent more than their assigned draft pool, and only six of those teams – the Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants and Mariners – came close to the 5-percent threshold that teams are penalized for exceeding their pool.

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