Tag:MLB draft
Posted on: August 17, 2011 3:35 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 3:37 pm

Draft picks get more money than ever

There was no Stephen Strasburg in this year's draft. There was no Bryce Harper in this year's draft.

If you don't follow the draft closely, there's a good chance you couldn't have named one draft pick the day before the draft. You might not be able to now.

And major-league teams still spent a record amount of money on those picks.

According to Baseball America, bonuses totaled nearly $228 million this year, up from $196 million last year.

What should we make of that?

Bud Selig would no doubt tell you that it's just more evidence that baseball needs a slotting system.

The players union would tell you that the system works, because teams like the Pirates and Nationals can get top-level talent (and pay for it), and players can get paid for their talent.

Some big-league players might say it means baseball is spending more money than ever on players who haven't yet proved a thing at the professional level.

I'd say it means two things:

One, the industry is healthy. Teams can afford to pay big. Top free agents last winter got more than anyone imagined, and th same could happen this winter.

Two, teams understand more and more that spending on draft picks often pays off. Top draft picks turn into All-Stars far, far more often than lower picks. And top draft picks have great value at the July trading deadline.

Whatever it means, it's a record.

Category: MLB
Tags: MLB draft
Posted on: June 8, 2011 11:51 am
Edited on: June 8, 2011 12:38 pm

Yet another 2008 draftee reaches majors

The Indians called up Cord Phelps Wednesday morning, which in itself isn't earth-shattering news, except for him and his family.

Phelps was being used at multiple positions at Triple-A Columbus, moving around so that the Indians could focus on top infield prospects Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Phelps wasn't one of the Indians' very top prospects himself, not even landing in the top 10 on Baseball America's winter list. He was hitting .299 at Columbus, with an impressive 40 RBI, and he's in the big leagues because second baseman Orlando Cabrera and third baseman Jack Hannahan have been struggling of late.

He's in the Indians' lineup in Cabrera's place for Wednesday's afternoon game against the Twins, and reports out of Cleveland say he'll likely play second base with some regularity against right-handed pitchers.

He's also the first Indians player from the 2008 draft to make it to the big leagues, and that's what caught my attention, because that '08 draft is starting to shape up as one of baseball's best.

Think of the players from the '08 draft who are already established in the big leagues: Buster Posey, Craig Kimbrel, Gordon Beckham, Eric Hosmer, Brian Matusz, Ike Davis, Alex Avila, Daniel Hudson, Danny Espinosa, Justin Smoak, Brett Wallace, Andrew Cashner, Pedro Alvarez, Aaron Crow -- and there are more, including Brandon Crawford, the shortstop just called up by the Giants, Jemile Weeks, the second baseman just called up by the A's, and Brett Lawrie, the third baseman expected to be called up by the Blue Jays any day now.

The 2008 draft included Smoak, who was traded for Cliff Lee; Lawrie, who was traded for Shaun Marcum; and Jake Odorizzi, who was traded for Zack Greinke.

It also included Gerrit Cole, who didn't sign with the Yankees, and went on to become the top pick in this week's draft.

Not bad for one draft. It doesn't yet match the 2005 draft, when the first round included Troy Tulowitzki, Justin Upton, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Andrew McCutchen and Jay Bruce. But give it time.

Phelps is also the third player from Stanford's 2008 team to reach the big leagues, joining Drew Storen and Jason Castro.

Posted on: June 7, 2011 12:45 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 7:13 pm

Pirates, Nats make Day 2 interesting

After the first round, the baseball draft goes from studio show to conference call.

After the first round, commissioner Bud Selig flies back to Wisconsin. After the first round, you have permission to tune out (if you even tuned in in the first place).

But stay with us for Day 2. At least stay with us for Pick 1 of Day 2, because the Pirates made it interesting.

With the first pick in the second round (via conference call), the Pirates took Josh Bell, the high school outfielder from Dallas who had sent a letter to teams saying he plans to attend the University of Texas and didn't even want to be drafted.

There was talk Monday that if teams honored Bell's request and he got as far as the 33rd pick, the hometown Rangers would take him. But they didn't, going for Georgia high schooler Kevin Matthews instead. That seemed to be an indication that even with their hometown advantage, the Rangers considered Bell unsignable.

Maybe the Pirates know something the Rangers don't. Maybe they're simply gambling on a big talent (Baseball America says Bell had the best power bat of any high-school player in the draft). Or maybe, club president Frank Coonelly (who once worked for MLB and was in charge of screaming at teams for spending too much money in the draft) is now ready to spend big.

Speaking of which, the Nationals seem to again have a big draft budget. After taking three straight Scott Boras clients on Monday night, the Nats made news on Day 2 by taking pitcher Matt Purke from TCU in the third round. Purke is one of the more interesting names in the draft, in part because he agreed to sign with the Rangers for $6 million out of high school (only to have the deal not go through, because MLB had taken over operation of the team from bankrupt owner Tom Hicks). Purke had some shoulder trouble this year, so it's not clear how much money he'll get, but it will no doubt take more than a normal third-round bonus to sign him.

As for the Pirates, they'll already be spending big on first-round pick Gerrit Cole, another player who showed no interest in signing out of high school. The Yankees drafted Cole in the first round three years ago, and he told them he had no interest in even listening to an offer. Cole went on to UCLA, became the first pick overall, and will almost command more money than the Yankees would have offered him out of high school.

Overall, the first-day picks suggest that baseball as a whole could be ready to spend big on draft picks this year. Ken Davidoff of Newsday theorized Tuesday morning that Selig will be more lenient on big bonuses this summer, because baseball strongly hopes that a hard-slotting system is in place before next year's draft. Selig renewed his call for a hard-slot system on Monday night, even though he admitted it needs to be bargained with the players' union.

In any case, the Pirates quickly made sure there was something to talk about on Day 2.

For more draft coverage from CBSSports.com, click here

Posted on: June 6, 2011 9:32 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 9:42 pm

Selig: No 'significant changes' on plays at plate

SECAUCUS, N.J. -- In the two weeks since Buster Posey was hurt, Giants manager Bruce Bochy and others have made strong calls for rules changes on plays at the plate.

Monday night, commissioner Bud Selig said he doesn't expect the rules to be changed.

"We're glad to talk, glad to revisit," Selig said between picks of baseball's draft. "But I don't see any significant changes."

Selig said he has spoken about the play many times with Joe Torre, his new executive vice president. He said he understands the concerns the Giants have, and he praised the Giants for the statement they issued in response to general manager Brian Sabean's inflammatory comments last week.

"I appreciate the concern," Selig said. "I'm saddened by Buster Posey [getting hurt], or by anyone else."

Selig, who has pushed a (sometimes ignored) unofficial slotting system for draft-pick bonuses, said again Monday that he wants a hard-slotting system in the new Basic Agreement being negotiated this summer.

Asked if he's confident that baseball can get the players' union to agree to a hard-slotting system, the commissioner responded: "I'm confident that we need it."

Selig also called again for a worldwide draft.

Selig played down last week's Los Angeles Times report that nine teams are out of compliance with MLB's debt-service rules, saying it was not a concern because most of those teams were close to being in compliance.

For more draft coverage from CBSSports.com, click here
Category: MLB
Posted on: June 6, 2011 7:22 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 10:56 pm

A Mariner surprise, and other draft thoughts

SECAUCUS, N.J. -- We knew this draft would provide some surprises.

We never thought the surprises would start so soon.

After the Pirates opened the draft by picking UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole, as expected, the Mariners followed by choosing University of Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen with the second pick.

Hultzen wasn't a pick out of the blue. The Pirates went to the final weekend before deciding between Cole and Hultzen at No. 1.

But in every pre-draft scenario discussed among officials at the draft, the pitching-rich, offense-poor Mariners were going to take Rice University third baseman Anthony Rendon.

"Completely unexpected," Hultzen told MLB Network after the pick was made.

The Diamondbacks followed by taking UCLA right-hander Trevor Bauer, also as expected.

Rendon went to the Nationals, with the sixth pick.

At that point, the six players expected to go 1-6 had gone 1-6. In that sense, the draft was going as expected.

But who knew the Mariners would pass on Rendon and take Hultzen?

Other first-round thoughts:

-- The Orioles took high school pitcher Dylan Bundy, who some scouts considered the most talented pitcher in the entire draft.

-- As recently as Sunday, the Royals were expected to stay away from local high school product Bubba Starling, not because they didn't like him but because he has a football scholarship to Nebraska and they weren't convinced he wanted to sign. Eventually, the Royals took Starling, in part because their preferred picks were taken before they drafted. The Royals loved Bundy, and would have liked the college pitchers, too, but with Mike Moustakas on a fast track to the big leagues, they didn't want a college third baseman (Rendon). Kent Babb, a writer for the Kansas City Star, wrote on Twitter that Starling told him two months ago that "it would make it very difficult to go to Nebraska if the Royals picked him." The pressure is now on the Royals to come up with the money to sign him, but it's a good bet that they will.

-- Two picks after Nebraska's next quarterback went to the Royals, Oklahoma's next quarterback went seventh overall when the Diamondbacks used their second first-round pick on Archie Bradley. Bradley is also well-regarded, enough so that there was talk before the draft that the Orioles would take him with the fourth pick.

-- Starling and Bradley are the type of athletes that baseball needs, and also the type of athletes that teams often need to go "above-slot" to sign. With that in mind, I asked commissioner Bud Selig if he worried that the hard-slotting system that he advocates would make it harder to attract the best athletes. Not surprisingly, he insisted that it wouldn't.

-- UCLA became just the second school to have two of the first three picks. Arizona State did it in 1978, with Bob Horner going first overall to the Braves and Hubie Brooks going two picks later to the Mets. Cole is the first UCLA player to go first overall in the June draft. Chris Chambliss went first overall in the January draft, back when there was a January draft.

-- Bundy and Bradley didn't go to school together, but they have worked out together for years. In an interview on MLB Network, Bundy said they were "pretty much brothers."

-- Mets pick Brandon Nimmo is from Wyoming, which made him the first first-round pick ever out of a Wyoming high school. He was only the 13th player ever taken out of a Wyoming high school. The only previous pick in the first 10 rounds was Michael Beaver, taken by the Phillies in the sixth round in 1966. Neither Beaver nor any of the other 11 has played in the big leagues. Thirteen Wyoming-born players have played in the big leagues. Mike Lansing, who had the most at-bats of anyone born in Wyoming, went to Wichita State and was drafted out of college.

-- As advertised, this was a pitcher-heavy draft. The first four picks were all pitchers, for the first time ever. But it also points up another general problem baseball has right now, which is that there aren't enough good young hitters in the game right now. It's one of the reasons that offense is down in the big leagues, and it's one of the things scouts covering the minor leagues talk about.

-- Baseball has improved the visibility of the draft in recent years, almost all for the better. But it probably wasn't a great idea for one of the MLB Network guys to walk to the front of the media section and yell to the fans sitting behind that they should applaud every pick: "Even if it's fake, it looks good on TV."

-- Baseball keeps trying to get more players to attend the draft, but the only player in attendance who was drafted Monday was Larry Greene, a high school outfielder from Georgia who went to the Phillies in the sandwich round (39th overall). Some players are still playing, others are advised by agents not to attend, but Greene was thrilled he made the trip from Nashville, Ga. He said his father and mother convinced him to come. "She got what she wanted," he said. One of the few players to attend the draft in the past was Mike Trout, who was taken 25th overall by the Angels in 2009 and has since become one of the hottest prospects in the game.

-- Sign of the times? A couple of hours after they were both drafted by the Diamondbacks, Bradley (@ArchieBradley7) sent a public Twitter message to Bauer (@BauerOutage): "hit me up man we need to talk lol."

-- Because the Yankees signed Rafael Soriano as a free agent, they didn't have a first-round pick, and didn't pick at all until the sandwich round (51st pick, for losing Javier Vazquez). They took Dante Bichette Jr., the son of the ex-big leaguer. And according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, that's appropriate because Dante Sr. and Yankee manager Joe Girardi were close when they played for the Rockies. Girardi has a son named Dante, and Bichette's youngest son is named Joseph.

For more draft coverage from CBSSports.com, click here

Posted on: June 6, 2011 9:21 am
Edited on: June 6, 2011 9:44 pm

UCLA's Cole will go #1 in draft

The Pirates plan to make hard-throwing UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole the top pick in the draft, a baseball source confirmed to CBSSports.com Monday morning.

Cole, whose fastball has been clocked at 100 mph, finished his junior season with the Bruins with a 6-8 record, a 3.31 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 114 1/3 innings. UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA tournament with a Sunday night loss to UC Irvine.

The Pirates had narrowed their search to three players -- Cole, University of Virginia right-hander Danny Hultzen and Rice University third baseman Anthony Rendon -- before settling on Cole.

Rendon is expected to go to the Mariners with the second pick, and the Diamondbacks will likely take Cole's UCLA teammate Trevor Bauer third. The rest of the first round is harder to call, but Hultzen and high school kids Dylan Bundy and Bubba Starling are widely regarded as three players who should go very quickly after Cole, Rendon and Bauer -- but not necessarily in that order. There has also been talk that the Orioles will take Oklahoma high school pitcher Archie Bradley with the fourth pick.

Assuming that Cole and Bauer go 1-3, and that seemed very likely as of midday Monday, they would be the first teammates drafted that high since 1978, when Arizona State's Bob Horner and Hubie Brooks went first (to the Braves) and third (to the Mets).

Cole was the Yankees' first-round pick in 2008, but refused to even consider an offer, telling them he was determined to go to college. He and Bauer led UCLA to a second-place finish at the College World Series last year (Cole was 11-4 with a 3.37 ERA, with 153 strikeouts in 123 innings), but Cole and the team had a disappointing 2011 season.

Pirates scouting director Greg Smith has a history of success at picking pitchers. He selected Justin Verlander in 2005, when he was the Tigers' scouting director, and last year with the Pirates he chose Jameson Taillon, now regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in the minor leagues.

The draft begins at 7 p.m., and the first round will be shown on the MLB Network.

For more draft coverage from CBSSports.com, click here
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com