Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Giants Sign 6th Round Draft Pick; Still Many More to Go

It seemed like the draft picks were going to sign quickly this season, as many first round picks signed faster than I can recall in recent years, but after a fast beginning, it slowed down to the slow molasses that marks the period for signing draft picks. At least they put everyone out of their misery by making the deadline in mid-August instead of allowing it to drag out into the next draft, like before.

The Giants are usually pretty quick signers of their picks in their first 10 rounds, but it's been slow this season, relatively. Of course, that could be a function of the Giants taking higher round talents in later rounds and paying according to talent and not round, which leads to a huge overslot bonuses, and the MLB Commissioner office delaying approval of the contract until much later.

Baseball America just announced that the Giants signed Matt Graham, RHP, for $500,000, which is the 3rd highest bonus given in the 6th round thus far, and is over slot by $350,000 (slot recommendation is $500,000 max after the 5th round), which as I noted, is a no-no and thus approval was delayed.

Here is what BA noted about Graham:

A righthander from Oak Ridge HS in Spring, Texas, Graham flashes first-round talent but lacks consistency. At his best, he’ll pitch at 90-93 mph with his fastball and back it up with a power curveball. He had committed to North Carolina.
They also noted that the Giants had not signed three of its top five picks thus far:

  • Zack Wheeler, RHP (first round),
  • Tommy Joseph, catcher (second), and
  • Brandon Belt, first baseman (fifth)

Discussion of What Current Signings Suggest They Are Slotted to Sign For

Basically, Wheeler's #5 pick spot has pretty much been market valued at $2.42M, as the pick ahead and the pick behind got that much (long ago, I might add, and getting invaluable professional experience) plus the #3 pick got $2.5M. What is he asking for, the moon? This is disappointing because he seemed like he was eager to sign and start his pro career. Still, I would expect the Giants to sign him: he did not seem to be ego driven, plus was not represented by Boras, and it has to be hard to turn down around $2.5M and to go to college instead.

Tommy Joseph's bonus should be around $650,000. The pick behind him got $643,500 and 3 picks ahead that guy got $670,000, and he was from high school too. And there were a bunch of high schoolers behind that got basically $625,000. So the value is pretty set, how much is he asking for, $850-900,000? No way he can demand and expect to get $1,000,000, not even the late first rounders are getting that. Some wonder if Tim Alderson getting traded has affected him, but he did not seem to be that close to Alderson, and friend or not, it would be tough to pass up $650,000 and then go to college.

Then again, Lincecum passed up similar money because he wanted a million, though I would add that he was already in college and could expect to move up in the draft, assuming hard work and so forth would help him advance, while Joseph has no idea how he will fare in college, and if he is over his head, he would be lucky to ever get drafted again, let alone get a big bonus. Lincecum could reasonably expect to get a similar bonus, whereas Joseph could potentially be passing up on a lot of money if things don't go well for him in college. Still, there are players that cocky that they bet on themselves.

Chris Dominguez signed for $411,300, which is right in range with all the other picks in that general pick vicinity for the third round. And he is benefiting from signing earlier, he's been getting into games and he has already hit 7 HR in 109 AB (though poor BA and 35 strikeouts). He could be a fast mover and would easily make up the $100-200K extra he could have held out for by making the majors one year earlier due to his playing and doing well now.

Jason Stoffel signed for $254,700, which is right in range for all the other picks in that general pick vicinity for the fourth round. He has done OK in limited innings (8.0 IP) in rookie league, not striking out a lot, but walking nobody.

Brandon Belt is in the 5th round where picks around him got between $160,000 and $200,000. Since Graham signed for $500K, I can only assume that Belt wants more than that, at least $600,000. That is the high bonus in the 4th round right now, and there are none higher than $200,000 in the 5th round currently. There is a $750,000 bonus in the 6th round, which would be the max I would expect.

The Giants as usual have been pretty good in signing most of their draft picks. With the Graham signing, the Giants have now signed every pick from the 6th round to the 17th round. And have signed 30 of their 50 picks. Check out this website for the picks who have not signed. Check out this website for the bonuses for the first ten rounds.

They are a bit behind their usual pace with 3 of their top 5 unsigned, but I'm not too worried about those players signing, as I have not heard of any hard stands from any of the Giants draft picks. Still, they might not sign, for whatever reasons. I would expect Wheeler to sign almost no matter what, that is too much money to leave on the table.

Both Joseph and Belt could go either way. I think Belt is more likely now that Graham has signed and given a window on what Belt might be asking for. I don't see the Giants balking at that. Plus 1B is a position that is not taken yet, though Ishikawa and Garko probably has a hold on it for at least another year. But beyond that, Belt could be in line for that if he hits well enough and play good enough defense.

Joseph might not want to be in the same organization as Posey, as Buster would be blocking his way, realistically. Still, the rookie facilities are near home, which I think is a good consideration for a young player. Plus Posey looks to be so good offensively, that he probably will be like Biggio and move from catcher to 2B (or even SS, his former position) at some point in his career. And that is a lot of money to turn down, unless his family is rich enough already. I think he will eventually sign.


  1. Wheeler asking for the moon? this is life changing money. You even said yourself that anything above slot is a no-no. Don't you think that its reasonable that it may take longer for a 1st rounder to sign if it's going to be above slot than it would any other pick in another round below the first?

  2. No need to preach to the choir about this: I've been discussing the draft for a number of years now.

    And the point is not that it's taking longer to get it done, the point is the implications of which deals have been approved by the MLB Commissioner's office already, presumably deals that are the least over slot to the more recent ones where they are much over slot.

    And I would add that the $2.16M that he is slotted for is already life changing money.

    The fact is a number of players in the first round have signed for above slot money. #5 Hobgood signed for $170,000 more, #7 Mike Minor recently signed for around $340,000 more.

    Now Matt Graham signed for $350,000 more than slot.

    Using those last two as guides, that means that Wheeler is asking for more than $350,000 more than slot, which would put him at $2.51M. The logic being that if he asked for less, the deal would probably be consummated already by the office, as that is about what the Giants have paid over slot for other players in the past.

    The slot for his pick last season was $2.4M, so if he is really asking for over $2.51M, then he's not only asking for over slot for this year but also last year.

    I think $2.5M is about as far as the Giants are going to go over slot for Wheeler, based on what they have done in the past. If Wheeler wanted $2.5M, the deal should have been approved by now, it is not much over slot, so therefore he must be asking for more.

    That would suggest that he might be using Gordon Beckham's $2.6M as a yardstick for what he and his representations think he is worth.

    But wait, there's more. Some new over slot signings have been announced today. The Orioles just signed a 22nd rounder to a $990,000 bonus and there is probably no slot for the 22nd round, so that is all over slot. And the Royals just signed their 4th round pick, Chris Dwyer to a $1.45M bonus, which is roughly $1.21M over slot.

    See where I'm going with the moon part now? And FYI, when someone puts a question mark like that on a statement, it means that person is not sure what is happening, but the question is a legitimate one.

    If he were asking for something slightly over slot, he would have been signed already, the commissioner's office has cleared plenty of contracts that were not much over in terms of total dollar amount. Therefore, he must be asking for more.

    The Giants have been generous before, but I don't believe that they are going to give an unproven high school pitcher much more over slot.

    Wheeler is good, but there were a number of other high school pitchers that experts thought was better than he is, so I don't see the Giants paying him that much more than slot.

    So I don't think that there is a deal between the parties that is waiting for the MLB Commissioner office to sign off on. If the difference were less, it would have been approved already.

    He must be asking for more than the slot and probably more than the slot for 2008 when it was higher.

  3. I think in the end he would be forced to decide whether he is willing to pass up the Giants offer, which I expect to be in the $2.4-2.5M range, and go to college instead or accept life-changing money.

    If he weren't asking for "the moon" and accepted slot or near slot, he could have been pitching already and learning already. He could be one level closer to the majors if he's as good as he thinks he is.

    Now he will lose what could be valuable time in the professional ranks and not get much more money than he would have gotten had he signed right away.

    The Giants have been right about slot except for Posey, which is understandable as he could have legitimately been picked first. They have not been afraid to pay more than slot to their draftees, in fact, most of their first rounders have gotten more than slot, even if marginally so. The last time slots were marked down, the Giants gave Lincecum the amount the #10 pick was slotted for the previous year, $2M. They also gave Bumgarner $2M when he was also slotted for $1.8M. So $2.4-2.5M is right around where they have been comfortable giving up more than slot for high draft picks.

    But I see nothing about Wheeler that makes me think that they are going to extend beyond their previous policy and give him more.

    In fact, I have to think that they might be willing to let Wheeler go unsigned if that is not enough money for him, as that would give the Giants the #7 pick next year, when perhaps an advanced college hitter might fall their way, a la last year when Alonzo, Beckham, and Smoak were available at the #7 pick.

    Of course, the risk there is that there are still 3 picks unsigned ahead of the Giants, and each one that ends up unsigned pushes the Giants back one more pick in the draft. They could end up as far back as 10th in next year's draft.

    Still, I think the risks of that is low. Rumor is that Tate is close to signing with the 'Dres and I cannot imagine that the Nationals would let Strasburg go, particularly since that hot prep catcher (Harper I believe) is probably the #1 pick next year and the way the Nats are playing, they could get the #1 pick next year too. That would leave Ackley, making the #8 pick the worse the Giants can reasonably expect to fall too.

    Even if Wheeler were as good as Bumgarner and rose quickly, it would be the fourth season after he was drafted that he makes the majors. A college player, pitcher or hitter, drafted next year could make the majors before Wheeler would, even given that Wheeler would have an extra year on that draftee by playing pro in 2010.

  4. Right now, based on this website, there are 6 top college players out of the Top 10 prospects for the 2010 draft. Harper is probably #1 and if Ackley doesn't sign, he would be in the mix for being picked high in the 2010 draft. The vast majority are pitchers, but I would note that Evan Longoria was rated as 10th best by Baseball America and rose to the #3 pick the year we drafted Lincecum. And Crawford probably was ranked in the Top 10 pre-season but fell all the way to the 4th round to the Giants in 2008.

    Here is what Perfect Game Crosschecker cautioned about Wheeler (

    "There is some concern on the part of scouts, though, that his arm slot and the lack of an established third pitch may relegate him to a bullpen role in the future."

    An updated report noted that "His off-speed stuff is inconsistent, but Wheeler flashed plus potential...". That means that he still doesn't have a third established pitch, and frankly, some pitchers never do pick up that one.

    But the potential is obviously there, as PG said he profiles as an impact #1 or #2 or a power closer.

    But Hobgood, whose description sounds pretty good too, has already signed. Minor has the ability to throw four pitches for strikes and outside of Strasburg and Leake, might be the safest college pitcher in the draft. Both have signed already.

    I have to think that Wheeler won't pass up $2.5M, but was it really worth waiting 2 months and only getting slightly above slot? That doesn't even pay for the agent's fee, I would bet.

    Meanwhile, he could have put in 2 months extra worth of pro ball playing, learning from professionals how to throw that third pitch that he needs. Getting him to the majors that much more faster.



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