The long-awaited signing of pitcher James Shields by San Diego had a benefit to all of Major League Baseball - beyond finally bringing to an end all of the rumor stories about where he might sign. That is, it finalized the order of selections in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft.
The value of $2,134,300 has been assigned to the 23rd overall pick in the draft, held by the St. Louis Cardinals. The club’s overall bonus pool amount for their picks from rounds 1 through 10 is $7,422,400, per MLB.com.
That is the 13th-highest total of the 30 teams, but that ranking is misleading because St. Louis’ money has to be spread over 12 picks. That total of 12 selections ties for the most in MLB for 2015, while at the other end of the spectrum, three other clubs have fewer than 10 selections in the first 10 rounds.
The Cardinals’ two extra selections in 2015 were granted as part of the Competitive Balance Lottery Round A (39th overall) and for unsigned third-rounder Trevor Megill last year. The latter compensation pick follows the third round at no. 105 overall.
The Cardinals’ 2015 top-10 round average works out to $618,533 per pick. Their selections are overall spots 23, 39, 66, 100 and 105 in rounds one through three. They will then own the 26th pick in rounds four through 40 – number 131, 161, 191, etc... (Full draft order here).
This compares to a $1,843,000 value placed on the Cards’ first selection in 2014, 27th overall, used on Luke Weaver, and a total of $7,087,200 for 12 selections in the first 10 rounds last year. That averaged $590,600 per pick.
Of course, averages are meaningless in the context of individual selections.
The last two years, the Cardinals followed an approach to save pool money in rounds 1-10 to use on longer-shot picks in later rounds. In 2014, the primary overage of $600,000 was used on 29th rounder Bryan Dobzanski. The previous year, the Cardinals gave a majority of their top 10-round savings, $650,000 extra, to 11th rounder Steven Farinaro. Both were prep pitchers whose college commitments were bought out by St. Louis.
Despite that, the Cardinals are not necessarily wedded to this approach in 2015.
I specifically asked the question to new scouting director Chris Correa.
“I actually think the best strategy is not one that is laid out now or even a week before the draft,” Correa replied. “You really have to see how the draft plays out, what talent is available to you in the first, second, third round before you decide whether or not it is worth saving money on a player there to maybe try to give more money to somebody in the 11th through the 15th round.
“It is definitely an option that is on the table,” he continued. “I think that it is a viable strategy given how the draft plays out in some ways. But on the other hand, I am not going into it thinking that is necessarily the right way to commit the best talent for the Cardinals,” the new scouting head concluded.
The First-Year Player Draft begins this year on Monday, June 8th.
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