Yesterday at midnight was the deadline for players picked in the 2011 MLB draft to be signed and enter professional ball. In case you missed it, I had a post up yesterday with some small updates on some MWC players along with a few short paragraphs on some already signed Mountain West players (the post can be found here). Today I'll try and keep it short and just hit on the bigger news following the signing deadline.
The biggest news from yesterday was that TCU pitcher Matt Purke ended up signing and will join the Washington Nationals organization. The price was steep, however, as Purke ended up with a $4.4M bonus along with a big league deal. In my first update (found here) I speculated that the signing of Purke would depend in large part on whether the Nats signed the three players they picked in front of him. As it turns out, they were able to get all four of their top 4 picks signed, something I was surprised to see. Top pick Anthony Rendon received a $6M bonus, high upside pitcher Alex Meyer received $2M, and outfielder Brian Goodwin received $3M, bringing the total for all four to a whopping $15.4M. Some of that money is being spread out over a number of years, but that is a very high figure and I'm surprised the Nationals went that high (but, as I mentioned in my 1st update, they have been aggressive in the draft in the past). Purke's $4.4M figure ranks as the eighth highest bonus in the draft, which is a lot to give to a player coming off a down year while struggling with arm injuries. That along with giving him a big league deal seemed like a hefty price to pay. The big league deal aspect will place him on their 40 man roster which will accelerate his time to the majors, but for a guy who struggled with injuries and control problems during his college career I think rushing him to the bigs is a poor strategy. I would have liked to see the Nationals get this deal done without that part of it.
Another TCU pitcher, Kyle Winkler, ended up signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks for a signing bonus of $240,000. This came as a slight surprise to me, as I thought he might head back to TCU to improve his draft stock. Winkler was viewed as a 2nd-5th round talent going into the draft after stepping up during the year in Purke's absence, but dropped to the 10th round following an elbow injury sustained during the NCAA tournament. $240K would put him around the late 3rd/early 4th type money, so he was paid around where his stock had him going before the injury, but I could have seen him returning to TCU and improve upon his nice year while upping his draft stock for 2012.
TCU will not be without talented players next year, however, as a few players that were drafted this will end up playing for TCU next season. One is the Mariners 3rd round pick (and brother of Utah 1st rounder C.J. Cron) Kevin Cron. Cron will provide TCU with a power bat, and is very likely their top incoming recruit. Another is returning player Jason Coats. Coats was a 12th round pick by the Baltimore Orioles and also ended up not agreeing to a deal. I mentioned Coats in my last write up, and provided a small scouting report of him via Jeff Reese over at MLB Bonus Baby. Coats was a touted prospect out of high school, but hasn't lived up to that potential in college. Likely he is returning to school to try and improve his draft stock for next season, and its not out of the question he will end up having a breakout season. I'm sure TCU is happy to have him back for their final season in the Mountain West.
- Another TCU recruit Kyle Crick signed with the Giants a month or so before the deadline, and given his position in the draft (supplemental 1st round) he very well may have been TCU's top pitching recruit.
- SDSU lost a guy who was possibly their top recruit in Phillips Evans, a 15th round selection by the Mets. Evans signed for $650,000, which is late 2nd/early 3rd type money, so the Mets valued him enough to pay him like a second round pick.
- Both the 1st and second rounds in this years MLB draft broke the previous records for total amount of bonuses given in each round (and as far as I know, the same thing happened last year). During the talks for the next CBA the league is going to be discussing some changes to the draft structure. The MLB fron office has worked in recent years to keep signing bonuses down, to not much avail. Some have supported a hard slotting system, but I am pretty firmly against it. The money being given in the draft is what it is, and I wouldn't change much about the bonus structure if it were up to me. The one change I would like to see is the signing deadline moved to about a month earlier, because 2 months after the draft is way too long. Regardless of my and others opinions though, the draft may look very different in coming years.
Source for bonus amounts: Perfectgame.com's draft database