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It’s Draft Day

Jun 4, 2012, 9:47 AM EDT

Mark Appel

The Rule 4 draft is today.  That’s the fancy way of saying “the regular old draft.” It used to go on until teams got tired of picking, maybe reaching a hundred rounds. Then it was cut to 50. It’s now a crisp 40 rounds. I fully expect you have your team’s 40 picks all mapped out and are, as we speak, painting yourself in team colors and heading to Madison Square Garden for the insanity.

Oh, wait.  This is not the NFL or NBA so the insanity is kept to a minimum.  Indeed, no one in this draft is going to be a household name already, let alone someone who is going to immediately change the fortunes of the team which selects them.  Baseball just doesn’t work like that.  Which is probably good because I don’t think I could stomach some five-hour glitzy prime-time telecast with baseball’s equivalent of Chris Berman and Mel Kiper barking at me.

Overall, draft experts are saying that there isn’t much in the way of extreme impact talent a la Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg, so unless you’re a big fan of amateur baseball or religiously read Baseball America, Kevin Goldstein or Keith Law, you probably don’t know a ton of these dudes. Confession: I don’t either. It’s enough to keep up with the majors and high minors. I’m sort of lost when it comes to the draft — there are people whose full time job it is to follow it — so we’re reading the same stuff in that regard.

It’s even more complicated this year, as several new rules besides the round limits are in place:

Under baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement, teams will have a pool of bonus money from which to sign players. The Astros, for example, have about $11.2 million to use as bonuses on their 11 picks through the 10th round. The Twins, who have 13 picks in 10 rounds, have about $12.4 million to use for bonuses. Teams face a punitive tax and the possibility of losing draft picks if they stray from the prescribed bonuses.

All of the teams have been thinking about this since the new CBA was signed, but I imagine it’s still kind of scary for them.  Add in to it the fact that the signing deadline for drafted players has been moved up to mid-July, and there is added pressure.

So, lots of uncertainty. But I do know this much: the Astros pick first and are widely expected to take Stanford right-hander Mark Appel, who (a) happens to throw close to 100 m.p.h.; and (b) is from Houston.  And there is nothing as old and time-tested in the baseball draft as tall, hard-throwing Texas pitchers, so it’s not all unusual.

  1. sknut - Jun 4, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    I thought I would like the way they cap the bonuses but now I am not so sure. It limits options for teams and plays into the cheap owners hands in fact in the above article there was thought that teams might draft their own interns to pay small bonuses to them and have more money for their higher picks but MLB caught wind of that and put an end to it.

    • js20011041 - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:22 AM

      The new CBA is terrible. The cap on bonuses is designed solely to take money out of the pockets of the players and put it into the pockets of the owners. It’s going to push two sport athletes away from baseball and it’s going to limit the impact that the draft can have on small market teams. And the real kick to the nuts is that the amount of money that the teams will be saving is ridiculously small. We’re talking about at most a few million dollars a year in bonuses. Teams routinely waste more money than that on mediocre middle relievers and backup infielders.

      • paperlions - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:27 AM

        All true…plus, it limits the amount of money teams can spend on amateur FAs, which may kill academies in Latin America. MLB invests a lot of money in those academies, if they continue to invest that money…they are probably looking at a far smaller return on their investment……the allure of many kids was million dollar signing bonuses when they are only 16….with those severely limited to the point of almost being gone, it isn’t clear that kids capable of playing soccer (i.e. the great athletes) will continue to devote time to baseball.

      • js20011041 - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:37 AM

        I have heard Kevin Goldstein bring up a great point before. How much money and effort has MLB poured into the RBI program over years to more or less try and piss those efforts away with this CBA. The cap on bonuses will absolutely push many blacks away from baseball and into basketball and football. Why play baseball when, for one, the possibility of a lucrative bonus is small, and two, there is no possibility of a full scholarship in college baseball?

  2. thekingdave - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    Astro fan, and while I’m no amateur talent expert, I totally think they should take a flier on Buxton. The ceilings much higher, plus Appel or any college player will be pushing 30 by the time we’re competing in the AL West. A shame the pick can be traded pre draft.

    • stex52 - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:20 AM

      I discussed this on an earlier thread with Paperlions. Springer is doing well in the minors, so I wasn’t too wild for another Center Fielder. But after thinking about it some, I think you are right. Age difference is enough we will probably need both of them. And a fielder is a lot surer bet than a pitcher. Don’t want to waste #1 overall.

      • paperlions - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:24 AM

        Yeah, if I am an Astros fan….I am rooting for Buxton or Correa….it isn’t even clear at this point that Appel is the best college arm. Even with the new CBA, signability and bonus demands (assuming they have been communicated to the team) may still affect choices as teams figure out how to maximize value in the new system.

  3. thekingdave - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:20 AM


  4. paperlions - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    Stryker Trahan isn’t a household name? Are you sure?

  5. jimbo1949 - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    Hmmm, back to back draft stories.
    Must be 5 o’clock somewhere.

  6. proudlycanadian - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    My team has 44 picks rather than 40, and 5 of them are in the top 60. It will be fun to watch the kids develop. Last night’s starter (Drew Hutchinson) was a 15th round pick in 2009, who should have gone higher. The Jays went above the slot to sign him. That type of signing bonus will no longer happen.

    • natstowngreg - Jun 4, 2012 at 4:44 PM

      Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post wrote a piece about how the Nats might deal with the new system. He notes that last year, they spent aggressively on several guys, knowing 2011 would be the last year they could do it.

      Of course, they lucked into the chance to get two great propsects in Strasburg and Harper, and didn’t shy away from dealing with Boras and paying the big bucks. Picking 16th will be more of a test for the front office.

  7. BLEED BOSTON - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    Reblogged this on BLEED BOSTON and commented:
    Come on young pitching prospects!

  8. jeffa43 - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    With the direction of the Astros youth movement, and the fact they are looking a lot better, a lot sooner than most experts thought over this past winter..

    It looks as if we will compete a lot sooner than previously thought. I believe we will step in and trail LA & Tex for a couple of years, and then compete.

    As of now we are looking alot stronger than Seattle and Oak. This team has a bright future…

    We seem to have 5 great OF prospects going as of right now…


    GET THE BIG STRONG TEXAS ARM OUT OF STANFORD ……. History has been solid with them.

    • paperlions - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:29 PM

      Being 8 games below .500 instead of 20 games below isn’t really a step toward competing sooner…as most of the guys currently on the roster aren’t going to be around or are already as good as they are going to get….it isn’t like this roster has a bunch of young talent on it that will blossom, transforming them into a decent team….most of these guys (with a few nice exceptions) are just place holders, and the Astros minor leagues are still a disaster…no real help is on the way in the next couple of years.

    • stex52 - Jun 4, 2012 at 5:03 PM

      I’m afraid you are overly optimistic. They had a very nice run at home and got to within one game of .500. Then they went west and reality set in again. The pitching staff is yet to prove they can handle a full season; I fully expect them to tire toward the end of the summer and there is very little back up. In my opinion 2nd base and SS are the only two that belong on a championship calibre team. I have to agree with Paper that most of these guys are placeholders until things get better. Then you look at the minors and see Wallace sitting there; still not getting untracked. This was a key trade for them. Outside of the two young Phillies prospects, the Red Sox trade, and Springer, we have not much in the pipes.

      I am happy that they are playing better this year. And, up to a point, it does look promising. But miles to go.

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