Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sealing the draft

The deadline for signing 2012 draftees passed at 5 p.m. EDT Friday -- mustn't delay the weekend at the commissioner's office -- and the Twins had a few adventures on the final day.

First they signed Florida high school outfielder Zach Larson, their 20th round pick, for $190,000 -- $90,000 more than MLB allots for picks after round 10. The extra $90,000 was charged against the Twins' bonus pool, which had sufficient savings to cover that and then some.

They failed to come to terms with 9th rounder L.J. Mazzilli, which doesn't disturb me too much. As I posted earlier this month, amateur second basemen aren't particularly good bets. Major league second basemen are generally guys who moved there from other positions. 

Andre Martinez was ranked
404th in the draft pool by
Baseball America, but the
Twins took him with the
190th overall pick.
But the weirdest developments came with Andre Martinez, a prep lefty from Florida selected in the sixth round. He had been reported early on by Baseball America's Jim Callis as having signed an over-slot deal with the Twins ($260,000 against a slot value of $200,000). On Thursday, Callis tweeted:

An ‪#mlbdraft‬ "unsigning": Had reported a while back that ‪#Twins‬, 6th-rder Andre Martinez had agreed on $260k. Now told deal unlikely

The prospect of losing out on Martinez did bother me. He might have been the best pure starting pitcher talent the Twins took last month. He doesn't throw with the velocity of several other Twins picks, but most of them were collegians who pitched primarily out of the bullpen. And supplemental rounder J.O. Barrios, another high schooler, is a "short" righty (six feet). 

Martinez has a college commitment to Florida State, and Baseball America had hinted coming into the draft that he could be a difficult sign. Callis' Thursday tweet led me to suspect Martinez had chosen to gamble that three years at FSU would make him a first-round pick.

Wrong again, Eddie. After the deadline passed, Callis tweeted that Martinez had signed -- for $80,000.

Apparently there had been an agreement on $260,000, but Martinez's shoulder failed his pre-signing physical. Or at least it failed for $260,000. For $80,000, it was passable.

So the Twins emerged having spent $298,500 less than MLB had allotted for the draft. It is my understanding that, for this year only, those savings can be added to next year's draft pool.


The big deadline news was that Mark Appel declined to sign with Pittsburgh. Apparently $3.8 million, which is what the Pirates are believed to have offered, wasn't enough for him and agent Scott Boras.

Appel's going back to Stanford for his senior season, and he is, right now, atop the consensus draft board for 2013. But he was a plausible No.1 overall pick this year too, and fell to No. 8 because teams didn't think he was worth the price he was setting on his services. Even if he doesn't get hurt, the same might happen in 2013. It's a risky move on his part.

The Pirates will get the ninth pick next year in compensation for Appel's refusal.

Appel was the only first-rounder who didn't sign, although a handful of others went to the final day. Oddly, all but one of the first-round holdouts were collegians. 

Odd because the new draft rules, with the bonus pool and penalties for exceeding the allotment, were expected to make it more difficult to sign high school players. It's likely that several prep players fell in the draft on that basis. But there were five first round picks who went into the final day unsigned, and four  of them were collegians.

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