Happy Independence Day on this July the 4th of 2012. We are less than two weeks from the Signing Deadline and to be honest with you, there isn’t going to be a whole lot of drama this time. Sure there will be the Mark Appel negotiations and the Washington Nationals doing everything they can to keep Lucas Giolito from heading to UCLA with Hunter Virant.
Mark Appel really doesn’t have a ton of leverage at this point because there isn’t an unlimited amount of funds that the Pirates can spend and there won’t be an unlimited amount of money at the top of the draft next year either. Signing for the $3,837,575 that the Pirates can offer without dropping a draft pick for next year sounds like a solid way to start a pro career. Especially with an up and coming back organization.
Giolito however is a different story. For him, as what we consider the #1 overall talent available, there is $3,034,510 available. Now there is also an injury concern. One that by almost all chance and circumstance will be fine long term. But still, an elbow injury nonetheless. So he could bypass what should be life changing money and start his career at UCLA with the hopes that he develops even further and is a Stephen Strasburg type of above and beyond talent in 3 years. Landing that #1 selection and a maxed out bonus. OR – Giolito could take the $3mm and get his career started. If he needs surgery it will get done. He won’t lose more development time while at UCLA, possibly hurting his draft slot chances in 3 years. He will still have plenty of time to develop within the organization. And he will be part of what is becoming a major organization and play next to the likes of Strasburg and Harper. It seems like an easy decision on the surface to most. But this will come down to the wire and if it falls through the Nats will get a 1st round pick in next years draft.
But there have been so major signings and that’s what we want to highlight today. So here we go.
The M’s finally get Zunino inked. This was pretty much a foregone conclusion but the ink just need to be put on paper. Both sides did well, as Zunino landed $4mm as a college player and the Mariners still came in way under slot evening out their over-expenditures from early in the signing period. Here is Zunino’s pre-draft Instinct:
5. Mike Zunino C Florida - Zunino is the top ranked catcher heading into the draft. He’s the squad leader for the Florida Gators and has hit better this season than he has in the past and he was already considered a 1st round talent. He has above average power and has hit for average despite a long swing. Defensively he’s a plus with the glove and has caught north of 30% of runners looking to steal a base.
Our Instinct - A team with a glaring need at catcher within the organization will reach for Zunino and they’ll get what they’re looking for. His ability to hit for a high average will be a stretch at the higher levels, but if his power translates to average or better he’ll be a valuable commodity based on his defense and make up. Almost a sure-fire full-time professional catcher. His power will define his upside.
Weickel had to be considered a tough sign when he fell to the #55 pick. But the Padres went more than double the slot recommendation and inked him to a $2mm deal. Weickel makes an already excellent draft for the Padres an even better one. Here is the pre-draft Instinct:
22. Walker Weickel RHP Olympia HS, Orlando - At 6’6″ and 220 lbs, Weickel is a big kid and takes to mound with calm and presence. His stuff, while excellent doesn’t translate to his size yet. At least not all the time. He works his fastball in the 92-93 range but at times can push it to the mid 90s. He pairs it with a 12-6 curve and a solid changeup.
Our Instinct - He’s made strides over the past year and is already refining his secondaries. He’ll probably add additional weight to his lower half and tightening his mechanics should add some velocity and get him into the mid 90s regularly. A Miami recruit, he’s going to need to go this high in the draft to sign and has the talent to where he shouldn’t fall out of the 1st round.
The Blue Jays have also added another big arm from their draft, inking Marcus Stroman. He’ll get the slot recommended $1.8mm and had this to say on his Twitter feed:
“Officially a member of THE Toronto Blue Jays! Signed my contract,” Stroman tweeted.“Beyond excited and blessed. Ready to work!”
Stroman was inside our top 25 so the signing is a good one at the slot for the Jays. Here’s the pre-draft Instinct:
18. Marcus Stroman RHP Duke - Stroman is a SP and SS with Duke and throws a low 90s fastball that he can run up into the 93-96 range in shorter stints. He pairs the fastball with a slider that currently grades near a plus pitch. One of the most athletic pitchers with 1st round talent.
Our Instinct - He’s just 5’9″ but has a solid frame and his mechanics are upwards of max effort to get his premium velocity. He looks like he’ll eventually end up in the bullpen due to his size, mechanics and two pitch mix. But a team that thinks he can stay in the rotation will reach for him and he’ll get a shot at the rotation before moving to the bullpen.
The Padres have locked up nearly every one of their picks and each from the Top 10. The top bat, Stony Brook’s Travis Jankowski is now a Padre and is going to get his real first test in the Midwest League. The Supplemental first round pick Travis Jankowski signed with the Padres for $975K. A number we consider a huge steal. Especially since he landed inside our Top 30. Here is the pre-draft Instinct:
28. Travis Jankowski OF Stony Brook – Most often “elite athlete” tags are put on 5 tool players. But Jankowski is one of the top athlete’s in this draft class and power is not one of his tools. But what he does, is control the bat and make hard contact to all fields. His speed is plus and he uses it on the bases and in CF. He’s hit .397 this year and stolen 34 bags.
Our Instinct – Jankowski’s speed is his one elite tool, but he does a lot of other things very well and should be able to run through the minor leagues. He reminds me of Johnny Damon and I think with time, some additional power will enter into his game. An above average CF with 25+ SB speed and some double digit HR seasons makes him a 1st round talent. He’s an exciting player and may be underestimated because he wasn’t at a college powerhouse the past 4 seasons. The Stony Brook prospect is a professional hitter.
The Dodgers have reached an agreement with first round pick Corey Seager on a $2.35MM bonus, reports Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times. The Dodgers went over slot to get him signed and have now inked two very nice pieces to a future infield of possibility. We had Seager just outside the Top 30 and he has the tools to prove to be one of the top bats in the draft over time. Here is the pre-draft Instinct on Seager:
33. Corey Seager 3B Northwest Cabarrus HS, Concord, N.C. – A lefty swinging high school SS, Seager also has major league bloodlines. His brother plays for the Mariners and Corey should be a hitter with more power than his brother Kyle.
Our Instinct – He won’t be drafted as a major league SS. Much like his brother he will be moved to 3B and should be able to handle the hot corner well. He has some range at SS and the arm for 3B, possibly being a solid utility 3B/2B type. He has a smooth swing and already uses the whole field showing opposite field power now that could turn into pull power as he matures into his frame. Already at 205 lbs, his athleticism remains apparent and it will only be a matter of time before his man-power starts to translate. If he develops the power of a pure 3B he should have more than enough defense to stick as a regular.
The Indians agreed to sign first round pick Tyler Naquin, Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game USA reports (on Twitter). We were clearly high on Naquin and believe that he has the bat and the arm to a successful major league OF. He got a $1.75mm bonus from the Indians and is already underway with his career. Here’s the pre-draft Instinct for Naquin:
19. Tyler Naquin OF Texas A&M - Naquin has grown as a hitter year over year, hitting .403 thus far in 2012. He’s a RF for the Aggies, but profiles better in CF as a pro. His lone plus tool is a plus-plus arm which easily handles RF and will handle CF as well. His speed is above average and he’s a threat to steal when on. His power is still lacking though he uses the gaps to get the best of his speed.
Our Instinct - He’s just 175 lbs and could add weight as he matures. If that happens and he adds the power that has been missing he could have the overall 5 tool package that scouts look for. Right now, he has the contact ability to be successful and defensively will make an easy transition to the pros despite questions to the contrary.
This update has a huge amount of Padres action and as we’ve mentioned before, they may have had the best draft in the franchise’s history. The Padres have agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Zach Eflin, a team source tells Dan Hayes of the North County Times. The deal includes a $1.2MM signing bonus — $325K less than the $1.525MM recommended bonus for that slot. Eflin has some big potential and also some true refinement to be made to get there. Here’s the pre-draft Instinct:
23. Zach Eflin RHP Hagerty HS, Oviedo, Fla. - Elfin has a commitment to UCF if he’s not draft inside the 1st round. His velocity which sat 90-93 at the WWBA in October has upticked to the mid 90s this spring and raised the outlook on his draft placement. His changeup is another average or better pitch with good sink while his breaking pitch, a curveball, is inconsistent. The curveball shows sharp break when it’s on but mechanical issues prevent him from locating well.
Our Instinct - Despite a large frame, Elfin doesn’t use it to his advantage to its full extent. His landing point is short and he clearly brings the ball through with mostly arm. That’s an issue short-term because it affects his command and long-term because it can lead to shoulder issues. He’s cleaned it up some this spring and when he’s loose and going in the game he can extend the stride which is when he’s at his most effective. Easily corrected, the mechanical issue shouldn’t stop a team looking for upside to take Elfin inside the 1st round.
The Cardinals signed supplementary first-round pick Stephen Piscotty to a contract, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). Piscotty had been all over the board in the months heading into the draft. He eventually landed with the Cardinals in the Supp round and will get $1.4mm of the $1.43mm of the slot recommendation. He’s going to start in Quad Cities before heading to the FSL. Quad Cities will give him a better chance at showing some power and building some confidence in the part of his game that needs most to be developed. Here’s the pre-draft take on Piscotty:
41. Stephen Piscotty 3B Stanford – Piscotty plays on a talented Stanford roster that provides plenty or opportunity for run production and Piscotty has a balanced all fields approach that takes advantage of that. His power is slightly below average now though he makes consistent hard contact. Defensively he handles 3B and has the arm for the position, but could also handle the move to an OF corner in time.
Our Instinct – Piscotty registered 93-94 when working in relief, so he has the arm for 3B but will need to work hard to stick there. He can still fill out his frame and add some additional power in time and if he does he’ll have the bat to hit for both average and some power. Right now he profiles as a tweener for 3B and more doubles than HR power. So he’s not a premium college pick, but his bat could blossom and make him a fine value pick in the 2nd round.
The Dodgers have signed their supplementary first round draft choice Jesmuel Valentin tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. They inked him for the recommended slot for the selection at $984,700. Valentin played with #1 overall selection Carlos Correa and while Correa has more upside and the potential for a bigger bat, it may be Valentin that ends up being the one that sticks in the middle infield. Here is the pre-draft Instinct on Valentin:
67. Jesmuel Valentin 2B Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Gurabo, P.R. – Valentin has major league bloodlines and has been around the game his whole life. So transitioning into pro ball shouldn’t be much of an issue. He’s a SS playing mostly 2B so he’s already versatile. He’s going to be a gap to gap hitter with occasional HR power.
Our Instinct – Valentin should get a chance to play SS, unless he’s drafted to the same team as Correa, who he’s played 2B next to at the PR Academy. But in time he probably fits better at 2B anyway. He’ll need time to continue to develop as a switch hitter but should be a solid average across the board with the bat.
The Athletics have agreed to terms with third baseman Daniel Robertson, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America. Robertson’s $1.5MM bonus exactly matches the suggested value for the No. 34 pick.
The Cardinals have basically inked all of their top talent from this draft and it has to be considered a great first run through the new system. The recently inked OF James Ramsey from the FSU Seminoles. He’s getting his start right in High-A in the FSL. So the Cards clearly think he’s an advanced bat. The fact that he isn’t a power first hitter will let his tools play up right away. How much he hits and gets on base will determine if his all out play with just average tools will make him a regular. Ramsey’s deal is for a below-slot $1.6MM, according to Baseball America’s Jim Callis (on Twitter).
63. James Ramsey OF Florida State - Drafted by the Twins later int he 2011 draft, he returned to school and has put up a .380 season with 10 doubles, 6 triples and 11 HR. He also has 9 steals and is the first captain of the Seminoles in a long time. He’s not going to stick in CF nor have the power to play LF. But he’s been an infielder before and the team that drafts him will certainly try to make him a 2B again.
Our Instinct - He’s going to have enough bat to warrant a roster spot on a big league club and should play above his tools. Whether or not he can stick as a MI or IF/OF super utility player will determine how valuable this draft pick could be. We think he has the chops to make it as a 2B.
There are still 7 first round picks to either agree to a deal or ink and announce. Each and every Supp pick is now signed. So it’s a pretty amazing thing that the new system has gotten so many players in a position to get their professional careers and development underway. Underlying this of course is the fact that there is some major talent that fell much to far and will head to college based on the new system and the lack of money available. Putting a cap on what a team can spend on a single player would have worked just fine and possibly gotten major talents like Ryan Burr and Hunter Virant signed so they could begin to develop into the talents they might become. Now I have to sit back and hope that the coaches at their respective schools have the foresight to develop them as they ride them to wins.
Stick with Baseball Instinct and we’ll keep you a step ahead of the game. Check back soon for more Prospect coverage. While you’re here, check out our Baseball Instinct 360° – it’s our top 360 prospects for 2012. Also check out a friend of ours for all of your fantasy sports needs. Fantasy Rundown is updated religiously and is truly an awesome resource. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be, so don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at firstname.lastname@example.org. And while you’re at it head over to Facebook and join the Instinct page.