David Price will certainly be the headline player in Tampa Bay's draft, but the Devil Rays added arms like Mike Southern, Chris Luck, and Kevin Chavez in the later rounds as part of a class that saw them ink a whopping 20 pitchers. For a team that already has a loaded farm system, this year's haul adds even more quality depth.
Kansas City got Mike Moustakas signed in the 11th hour, but if you take a deeper look at what the Royals did, you can see general manager Dayton Moore stamping his imprint on how he wants to build the organization. Six of the Royals' first seven picks that signed were from the high school ranks, with high school pitching, a staple of Braves' drafts of the past being the top priority.
The Royals added pitchers Matt Mitchell, Mike Lehmann, and Keaton Hayenga in the later rounds to go with San Runion, Danny Duffy, and Mitch Hodge as a solid group of power-armed prepsters. Hayenga, who signed for $300,000, would've gone a lot higher had he not hurt his shoulder. The Royals aren't going to be rebuilt overnight, but Moore and scouting director Deric Ladnier have a done good job adding solid talent, and if ownership is willing to keep spending money in the draft and internationally, that could certainly expedite the process.
Another team that's in the process of reshaping its team for the future is Washington. Scouting director Dana Brown had some good drafts despite the shoestring budget he had when the club was run by Major League Baseball, but after taking toolsy talents like Chris Marrero, Colton Willems, Glenn Gibson, and Stephen King last year, the Nationals focused even more on high ceiling players in 2007. The Nationals got four left-handers with the additions of Ross Detwiler, Josh Smoker, Patrick McCoy, and Jack McGeary, although the latter will be a part-time performer while he goes to school.
For good measure, they added right-handers Jordan Zimmerman, Brad Meyers, P.J. Dean, Patrick Arnold, and potential sluggers Michael Burgess, Jake Smolinski, Steven Souza, Derek Norris, and Mark Gildea. In short, there is a loads of potential in this draft, and even though the majority of these players are several years away, if the Nationals strike gold with a few of these players, they will have a very bright future in their new ballpark.
NEW SIGNING DATE?
There were some rumblings in the scouting community that the new August 15 signing date was too late, and that negotiations took valuable time away from having scouting directors see the 2008 high school class at events such as the East Coast Professional Showcase, the Area Code Games, and the Aflac All-American Game, all of which were held in early August right before the deadline.
Some scouts had proposed a July 15 date, which would certainly make it a frantic time period for everyone involved considering teams would have only a month to see how draft prospects develop over the course of that time period before deciding to sign players.
The benefit of making the date earlier would allow those players who sign in July a chance to get their feet wet in the professional ranks before heading to instructional ball. College coaches would certainly benefit, as they would have several weeks to try and fill holes left by recruits who elected to turn pro.
While moving up the date has its benefits, I'd rather keep the date as it is, if for the sole purpose of having as much time as possible to take a look at prospective signees. Given how poor of a spring he had, Jon Kibler would've had little chance of signing with the Tigers, but once he showed his stuff had improved significantly in the Texas Collegiate League, the Tigers made him a priority and inked him at the end of July.
The last thing teams need to do is make a rush to judgment on evaluating a player. The later date also allows those players who may have been injured in the spring to get a chance to play themselves into getting a contract.
After two months of relative quiet, Bud Selig saw his slotting system get blown to bits not just by the Tigers, Yankees, and Red Sox, but by teams one doesn't normally associate with spending great sums of money. The Nationals doled out $1.8 to Jack McGeary, while the Devil Rays gave D. J. Jones $335,000 as an 11th-round selection.
The Phillies and Rangers handed out large bonuses to prep pitchers Julian Sampson and Kyle Ocampo respectively. Even the Indians signed their 50th-round pick (Michigan's Doug Pickens) to a $100,000 bonus, and their were numerous other draftees they got six-figure bonuses despite being taken outside of the first 10 rounds.
It's been rumored that Selig privately has chastised teams (notably the Tigers) for disobeying his system, but with all of the money that other owners spent this year, there is no question that they have grown tired of seeing the top talent in the draft filter down to the richer clubs.
The present system is broken, and with the game's financial growth, there was no reason to rollback bonus payouts (not to mention keep the figures secret up until the draft). If Selig tries to cutback on slots again next year, you could see an even bigger flood of pronounced signings, because teams simply need to do what's in their best interest, not Selig's. It's going to be interesting to see what Selig's plan will be for next year, but whatever it may be, here's hoping all of baseball will tune him out.