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The New Signings Thread

It was suggested to me to start a new signings thread, so here it is. Newest additions will be at the top, so check back continuously for updates:

Madison Younginer, RHP, Mauldin HS (SC), Boston Red Sox 7th Rounder
The bonus amount has finally come out for Younginer, who was rumored to have signed earlier today. It’s $975,000 as reported by Jim Callis.
Younginer was one of my favorites earlier in the season, as he qualified in many ways for what I consider sleeper draft prospects, ones that could easily end up contributing in huge ways in the Major Leagues, though from more modest backgrounds than the top of the first round. First, Younginer’s a prep arm with a FRESH arm. That is, his coach hasn’t run his arm into the ground, mainly because Younginer worked as a closer in high school. That might not have been good for raising his draft stock, but it will ultimately be good for his arm in the long run. The second such sleeper qualification for me is pure fastball velocity. While top guys like Matt Hobgood were busy working in the low-90s with top velocities around 95, Younginer has the ability to work in stretches where the low-90s are disappointments in his series of fastballs. I’ve been told multiple times of him hitting 97, and that wasn’t uncommon. Granted, it was in relief, but it is pure velocity that most prospects couldn’t expect to touch, even the top ones. The last sleeper qualification for me for Younginer was his slider. It’s hard, it’s nasty, and it’s inconsistent. That’s understandable, as most hitters can’t hope to touch a 97 mph fastball when a closer comes on. However, the flashes he shows can be brilliant, and I think with reps, he can unleash a filthy, reliable pitch. He might be a reliever in the long run due to his delivery, but I wouldn’t count out Younginer from turning into a top starting pitching prospect, as he has time and will require starter innings to develop in the minors. Otherwise, the Red Sox might have found Jon Papelbon’s replacement.

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Jeff Inman, RHP, Stanford, Pittsburgh Pirates’ 12th Rounder
Jim Callis says that Inman and the Pirates have indeed agreed to a contract, and Inman will receive a $425,000 bonus. Here’s what I said about Inman in my Pirates draft review:

12. Jeff Inman, RHP, Stanford, #355 overall, 6’3’’/205: Inman was in the running for a top three rounds pick entering the spring. However, huge bouts of ineffectiveness and loss of command meant that he fell down the boards. He’s got the natural talent to be an impact pitcher, but with questions of health and stuff coming in, this was a natural decline in draft stock. I still expected him to go in the 7-10 round range, with someone offering him 3rdround money to sign away from his senior year at Stanford, but it’s looking to me like he’ll return. This is a decent gamble in the 12th round for the Pirates, but I only see him signing if multiple pitchers in the 6-8 round picks fail to sign, opening up enough money for him. DOB: 11/24/87.

Well, I was obviously wrong that the Pirates could only sign Inman if they failed to sign some of their Von Rosenberg/Stevenson/Cain group, as they managed to ink every single one. I was right about the third round money statement, though, as Inman got almost an identical amount to the Pirates’ own Evan Chambers, the fourth pick of the third round. In fact, Inman gets just a tad more than Chambers, moving Chambers further down the bonus chart for Pittsburgh’s 2009 draft. This is just one more step on the road to respectability for the Pirates, and this draft has upgraded their farm system more than you think. Matt den Dekker (16th) and Jordan Cooper (17th) could add a lot more to this draft, too, and I’m starting to wonder if that’s the Pirates’ goal. They’ve spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $9 million so far, so it’s not a stretch to see them go all out for those two prospects in particular, in addition to possibly Josh Urban (19th), Marcos Reyna (14th), and Peter Bako (15th). They spent $9.8 million last year on bonuses, so don’t be surprised to see these names at least considered.

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Wil Myers, C, Wesleyan Christian Academy (NC), Kansas City Royals’ 3rd Rounder
Callis also says that the Royals and catcher Myers have agreed to a $2 million bonus, the highest third round bonus given out this year. Myers was someone I was surprised slipped past the first round, as he had garnered some attention near the top half of the first round as late as the weekend before the draft. He battled all season with Max Stassi as the best prep catcher available after Luke Bailey, and after Bailey went down with elbow surgery, it was just Stassi and Myers. My main concern with Myers is his ability to both handle catching full time and continue swinging a consistent bat. He didn’t play against much tough competition in school, and therefore he didn’t have to concentrate as much on being well-rounded in his play. As a pro, Myers has to prove he can handle all the issues that come with handling a pitching staff and continue what is a pretty sweet swing. He didn’t catch much in the scheme of things in school, so just the physical wear on his body might be enough to throw him off a little, so keep that in mind next year when he goes through his first full pro season. Now that Myers’ signing is out of the way, will there be a run at 37th rounder Tanner Poppe? Probably not, but Aaron Crow isn’t subject to the deadline, so if I were running that draft, I’d at least kick the tires on the rest of my unsigned players to see what I can drum up.

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Miles Head, 3B, Whitewater HS (GA), Boston Red Sox 26th Rounder
Jim Callis says that the Red Sox have agreed with Head on a $335,000 bonus. Head was a prep catcher, though many scouts doubted he had what it took to stay there as pro. As a result, the Red Sox took him as a third baseman, and that’s probably his permanent position. He’s got a good bat, though he essentially is already where he’s going to be in the future in terms of power projection, speed, arm strength, etc. The ways he’ll improve are in areas like pitch recognition and defensive repetitions, rather than maturing physically. As a result, he didn’t earn the recognition his bat warranted as a prep, simply because he wasn’t as toolsy and projectable. Georgia prep Donavan Tate overshadowed Head, though Head was a superior hitter, and I’m not exaggerating. Tate’s got the tools, but Head’s more advanced with the bat. As a result, I’m fairly impressed by this signing, and it wasn’t terribly expensive, especially considering Boston’s record of signing players to much larger bonuses, even outside the first round. In the same blog, Callis also mentions that deals for David Renfroe (3rd) and Madison Younginer (7th) are forthcoming, so stay tuned.

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Tommy Joseph, C, Horizon HS (AZ), San Francisco Giants’ 2nd Rounder
According to Jim Callis, Joseph and the Giants have agreed to a $712,500 bonus. That’s only just under $60,000 over slot for Joseph’s recommended bonus amount, so I’m surprised he held out this long. The bonus amount is worth right in between the recommended amounts for Pittsburgh’s Victor Black and Washington’s Jeff Kobernus, that is, it’s slotted at slightly more than the first pick of the second round. It’s currently the most money given out to a second rounder this year, but that will be surpassed shortly, as multiple second round prospects might garner seven figure deals. Here’s what I had to say about Joseph in my Giants draft review:

2. Tommy Joseph, C, Horizon HS (AZ), #55 overall, 6’1’’/215: I had some people criticize my next-to-last mock draft, because I left Joseph out of the three round mock altogether. I even had a few people say it was idiotic for Joseph to be left out of the first round, as he was a lock. However, I felt a subtle shift in his stock late in the season, as teams were always sure of his bat, but became more apprehensive about his glove. I see first base in his future, as his mechanics behind the plate just aren’t those of a catcher in today’s game. He could easily improve greatly and prove me wrong, but I just don’t see the skills. He does have the tools, however, as his arm is quite strong. He hasn’t signed, but I expect him to agree shortly before Wheeler. DOB: 7/16/91. Commitment: Arizona.

Now we start the process of figuring out whether Joseph is a true catcher or not. The Giants can afford to take the risk with him, as they already have Buster Posey in their system. The bad news is that if Joseph has to move to first, he has no room for error with his bat. He also has Angel Villalona ahead of him there, so there’s also a competition factor. I believe in Joseph’s bat in general, though, and I still like this pick, especially considering he didn’t cost them as much money as he could have possibly commanded. This leaves plenty of time and budget room for first rounder Zack Wheeler, as Brandon Belt also signed earlier today. Is there a Jonathan Walsh, Jason Walls, or Mitch Mormann in the Giants’ future? We’ll see shortly.

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Riley Cooper, OF, Florida, Texas Rangers’ 25th Rounder
I already knew that Cooper had agreed to terms with the Rangers, but Jim Callis finally has his bonus amount, which is $250,000.
Under the terms of the deal, Cooper’s bonus will not be spread over five years, though he’s currently a football player at Florida, as well. In addition, Cooper will get to continue to play football with the Gators as a wide receiver, as his eligibility in football isn’t hampered by his signing a professional contract in another sport. Seems like a sweet deal for Cooper. Cooper’s got a top of untapped potential on the baseball diamond, where his athleticism is a huge plus. However, like I said about Joey Schoenfeld below, Cooper’s simply an athlete at this point, not a baseball player. He needs a lot of work, and though he played very well during his freshman season with the Gators, his regression and lack of playing time really hurt his development. Since he has a full football season at Florida, there’s still the chance of him getting hurt, or simply being tired when it comes time to ramp it up for his first season next spring. He won’t be participating in fall instructs either, so there’s really tons of risk in this signing. The Rangers are banking on the pure talent, but that’s a steep price. It’s obvious the Rangers are working through their unsigned picks this week, leaving Matt Purke for the weekend, and the rest of the Ranger signees, if there are any more, will probably be announced today.

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Joey Schoenfeld, C, Santiago HS (CA), Pittsburgh Pirates’ 10th Rounder
Chuck Finder is reporting that the Pirates have signed Schoenfeld to a $195,000 bonus, though he’s giving the credit to BA for the report. I haven’t found it anywhere on BA’s site, so I’ll give the tip to him. Here’s what I had to say about Schoenfeld in my Pirates draft review:

10. Joey Schoenfeld, C, Santiago HS (CA), #295 overall, 6’2’’/187: This was a large overdraft, as Schoenfeld is one of the more raw players with talent in this draft class. Classifying him as a catcher is a bit iffy right now, as he has the tools, but has bad mechanics and will need a lot of work. There’s been speculation he’ll need to move somewhere else and soon. Same for the bat, as he’s just not up to shape yet. The Pirates surprised me by calling his name this high, and while the talent might be decent, it’s definitely not a strong by draft position. He hasn’t signed yet, either, and I wonder if he will at all. A bit puzzling here. He’s simply an athlete, not yet a baseball player. DOB: 6/11/91. Commitment: San Diego State.

I still stand by this assessment, as I feel Schoenfeld is really a boom-or-bust prospect. He’s so raw that he’ll have to make significant adjustments, and that’s tough on a kid coming straight out of high school. I still don’t think he’ll stick at catcher, and he’s going to have to work hard to become passable at another position, whether it’s third base or at a corner outfield spot. His athleticism is quality, but that’s an excuse that was used more on prospects fifteen years ago than today. Athleticism doesn’t necessarily equal baseball skills, so Schoenfeld will have to prove he’s more than just an athlete. The bonus amount isn’t that significant, and it’s less than I expected for him. He held out this long for just $45,000 over the recommended maximum of $150,000 for his slot, so all he did was slow down his development. Knowing the bonus amount, this isn’t that much of a risk, as the team can absorb the loss of him being a bust. In addition, this might leave some room to ink someone else this weekend for an over slot bonus, perhaps even two players. I’m sure they’d love to ink Stanford’s Jeff Inman (12th), Florida’s Matt den Dekker (16th), and either Jordan Cooper (17th) or Josh Urban (19th). A likely scenario might be that they sign their 14th and 15th rounders, a pair of JUCO players they’ve followed this summer in Marcos Reyna and Peter Bako. Either way, they’ll just be adding on talent to an already stacked draft group.

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Shawn Blackwell, RHP, Clear Creek HS (TX), Texas Rangers’ 24th Rounder
Jim Callis is reporting that the Rangers signed Blackwell for an enormous $300,000, a huge amount for a 24th rounder. I was pretty high on Blackwell coming into the draft, but I wondered if his Kansas commitment would be too much to overcome. While I was high on him, I also knew he was probably someone in consideration for the 7th to 10th round, which probably didn’t offer enough money to lure him away from school. However, the Rangers ponied up what is equivalent to slot money for the late third round. It’s a solid move for Texas, a team that has enough young pitchers to just throw them against a wall and see who sticks. Looking at the greater picture from this draft, though, and you’ll see that this signing is probably the result of a few things. First, the Rangers have probably failed to secure 10th rounder Thomas Lemke, a prep pitcher from Arizona. They wouldn’t have made such a serious run at Blackwell and 14th rounder Chad Bell without knowing that they don’t need the cash for Lemke. That’s fine, as Lemke really took a step backwards this spring in terms of draft stock. Second, the Rangers were able to get the signing of 5th rounder Nick McBride, who I reported on in the last signings thread. Callis says McBride’s bonus is $325,000, quite a bit more than I thought it would be. Lastly, this is the result of the Rangers wanting to set aside the weekend to deal with Matt Purke. I wouldn’t be surprised to see something come out about 9th rounder Jabari Blash today, as well as the final word on Lemke and players such as 16th rounder Mike Revell. 19th rounder Jayce Boyd has announced he’s going to school. So there’s your state of the Rangers’ draft.

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Brandon Belt, 1B, Texas, San Francisco Giants’ 5th Rounder
According to this report by Kendall Rogers, Belt has decided to sign with the Giants for  $200,000. This wasn’t very surprising to me, as I didn’t expect Belt to be too expensive to sign. Here’s what I had to say about Belt in my Giants draft review:

5. Brandon Belt, 1B, Texas, #147 overall, 6’5’’/210: This was a surprising overdraft to me, as I loved what the Giants had done with their first four picks. However, Belt, despite blessed with exceptional size and good natural power, lacks the performance numbers or tools to be drafted this high. Since being drafted in the 11th round in both 2006 and 2007 (Red Sox and Braves), Belt has been a huge disappointment, with relatively weak hitting, making him going this high a big surprise. He’s got good tools at first, and with mechanical adjustments, he might become a more powerful hitter, but it’s just not likely. He hasn’t signed yet. DOB: 4/20/88.

I still feel this way about Belt, and I’m not sure he’ll succeed as a pro. He doesn’t have a first baseman’s performance numbers, and he’ll need some time to get through the minors. However, considering the price wasn’t too extravagant, I’m fine with this deal. It frees up time to deal with Zack Wheeler and Tommy Joseph, the key pieces in the Giants’ draft. In addition, the Giants might have enough money left over for one of the group of Jonathan Walsh (18th), Jason Walls (19th), or Mitch Mormann (20th) to sign, but that’s not likely. However, this draft is still very successful in my eyes, and I’m glad to see one more piece of the puzzle put together with a few days to spare.

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Chris Dwyer, LHP, Clemson, Kansas City Royals’ 4th Rounder
Jim Callis has the bonus amount for Dwyer, who supposedly agreed to his deal over a month ago. It’s a record-setting $1.45 million, the most ever given to a fourth round draftee. First, I want to make clear that I’m not a big fan of this bonus amount. Dwyer’s done little to deserve what is essentially slot for the 17th overall pick. The only reason he’s getting so much is that he’s got more leverage than most, as he’s a rare draft-eligible freshman. Slot for Dwyer’s pick number was only $240,300, and while I wouldn’t expect Dwyer to settle for that, I think half of the $1.5MM he got was more what I would pay him. After all, being a draft-eligible freshman doesn’t mean you’re any more young and projectable than draft-eligible juniors. It just means that you can go back to school and improve your stock multiple times. Dwyer’s already 21, so I’d grade him on an even plane with the vast majority of college juniors. Being left-handed certainly helps, but it’s not enough for me to vastly overpay him. Dwyer’s got a solid pitch mix, but he’s going to take a lot of work in terms of learning how to pitch at the pro level. His numbers alone at Clemson illustrate that. But the Royals are banking on the talent to show up, though Dwyer could easily need a stop at each minor league level before reaching the Majors. Looking at the rest of the week, the Royals have only goal in mind, and that’s making third rounder Wil Myers’ deal official. Like Dwyer, it’s been rumored for weeks that Myers has already agreed to a deal, only to have the commissioner’s office reject it due to its expensive nature. I’d expect it to become official shortly, perhaps even as early as tomorrow. Aaron Crow doesn’t fall under the signing deadline, so I would expect that to only pick up after Myers’ deal is official. They’re reportedly offering Crow $3 million, but he’s declining it. Without Crow, this draft class for Kansas City isn’t that strong, though I expect they’ll get it done.

August 14, 2009 Posted by | Draft Pick Signings | , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

   

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