It's finally here: tonight the Major League Baseball Rule 4 Draft gets underway from Secaucus, New Jersey with the first 77 picks covering the first and second rounds, as well the "sandwich" wounds of extra picks that follow each. This of course will be the focal point as teams gobble up talent and mint scores of new millionaires, but the bulk of the picks will also happen on the last two days, with rounds 3 through 10 Friday and rounds 11-40 on Saturday.
Over the last month, Bluebird Banter has been previewing the draft - organizational depth, recent team history and tendencies, as well as looking at options for the Blue Jay picks on the first day (beyond that is way too speculative) - all of which can be found in one place on the Draft Stream here. There are two pieces still to come later today, a preview of second round high school pitching options to complete that octet, and a quick look at some of the Canadian content.
Below are some latest news items, a reminder of the Blue Jays picks and slot allocation, as well as some links to more information. Feel free to add other stuff and updates in the comments
Some recent developments and themes:
- The top of the draft remains muddled, without a clear sense of even who will go first overall and a handful of players still in play. Most of the chatter for the Phillies with the first overall pick is around A.J. Puk and Mickey Moniak, but the other usual candidates don't seem to be categorically out of the mix. This uncertainty has a domino effect further down.
- Several of the teams at the top - where the slotting structure almost invariably allows them to save slot money even without truly cutting a deal - have extra picks before the second round (Cincinnati at 35 and Atlanta at 40) where they could look to cut an overslot deal with those savings on players who slip, especially if it's a due to a big price tag that teams in the bottom of the second round can't or don't want to meet. And of course, those teams also have high second round picks, which represents further potential to spread money around and makes everything more unsettled
- Delvin Perez was a player I didn't profile because barring something unexpected, there was no chance he's be in considered for the Jays. That certainly came to pass, as he apparently tested positive for an undisclosed PED. Perez, at 17.5 one of the youngest players in the draft, was easily the top ranked shortstop, but there were already questions about his makeup and maturity. His stock is apparently plummeting, out of the top 10 and perhaps out of the first round entirely. At some point though, the talent's got to be too enticing to pass up for teams who wouldn't otherwise have a chance to sniff that kind of premium talent.
- Blake Rutherford - another player I didn't bother profiling since he seemed unlikely to fall outside the top 10 -is apparently slipping, probably outside the top 10. He's older, already 19, which apparently has some teams backing off, along with the bonus demands. He would be a candidate for exactly the kind of overslot deal discussed above, and it wouldn't be surprising if he had a deal and the fall was being engineered.
- A couple of college pitchers have some major helium. Boston College's Justin Dunn is being linked as high as 11th overall to the Mariners, as well as a few other teams in the teens. Illinois righty Cody Sedlock is linked to Houston at 17th overall (I had profiled him as a second round option). On the high school side, Jared Horn is reported to be rising up boards.
- Jason Groome has apparently decommitted from Vanderbilt in favour of Chipola College (Blue Jays connection: Jose Bautista and Russell Martin went there), which would allow him to re-enter the draft next year instead of having to wait until 2019. He's been talked about for the 1st overall pick, but has seemed to slip with some makeup questions. This may thus be a bargaining ploy, but with next year's draft considered deeper at the top, it may not be that effective.
- Jim Callis and Jon Mayo reported on some of the larger bonus demands by high school players, including $3-million plus price tags for Horn, Matt Manning, Joey Wentz, Drew Mendoza and Will Benson.
A quick breakdown of where the Jays pick and the slot allocation for each
The total draft spending pool is $6,665,900, and the portion of any bonus after round 10 over $100,000 must count against that. They can spend up 5% above above that without serious penalty (just a tax), which would be bring the total to a hair under $7-million.
Links and non-paywalled information:
Perfect Game Draft Coverage (including state by state breakdown that have their top 500)