Top prep pitching prospect Lucas Giolito recently went down with a sprained UCL, which won’t require surgery, but ends his senior year. There’s been some speculation on whether the right hander could fall in the draft due to the injury, along with questions on how likely he would be to sign a deal.
The speculation is further clouded by the new collective bargaining agreement. If Giolito would have been taken second or third overall, he would have received $5-6 M. In prior years, if Giolito fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates at eighth overall, they could take him and give him that same amount of money with ease. Now that teams are heavily penalized for spending over their draft bonus pools, giving Giolito a $5-6 M bonus wouldn’t be as easy.
Baseball America has a good look on what it would take for each team to give Giolito $4.15 M and still remain under their bonus pool. They assume that each team would spend $4.15 M on Giolito, then go cheap on two players who would combine for $150 K. For the Pirates, that would leave an average of $301,688 each for their remaining picks.
If Giolito fell to the Pirates, he would be a steal at number eight. He would be the type of talent who you construct a draft around, taking a few lesser players in the later rounds to make sure you can sign him in the first round. He would be a huge luxury for the Pirates, adding another potential ace, and another arm who can hit triple digits on the radar gun. It is too early to predict him falling that far. If he’s this obvious of a choice for the Pirates at eighth, then he’d also be an obvious choice for the earlier selections.
The Pirates would have a hard time taking Giolito if he wanted $5 M or more. That would leave them with about $1.5 M for their remaining ten picks. With a $5 M bonus, the Pirates would have to sign five of their remaining picks to $50,000 or less bonuses, four picks at an average of $300,000 each, and one remaining pick with a little over $113,000.
Lost in all of the big spending over the last few years is the fact that it’s not impossible to get talented players for a low price. In 2008 the Pirates added Justin Wilson for $195 K and Matt Hague for $25 K. They only needed $100 K to sign Jarek Cunningham in the 18th round, a move that wouldn’t eat away at the bonus pool in the 2012 draft. Brock Holt signed for $125 K in 2009. Then there’s all of the later round guys who could be values even if taken earlier. Matt Curry in the top ten, rather than in the 16th round, as a prime example.
Even with that approach, the Pirates would be putting all of their eggs in one basket if they gave Giolito too much. They’d have to draft a lot of college juniors and seniors, and maybe they’d be able to add 2-3 legit prospects. If they went over their draft pool, even by a small amount, they could lose draft picks, or lose the chance of getting additional draft picks in future drafts. Focusing an entire draft on one player, and risking future picks in the process, might be too much, regardless of the talent that Giolito brings to the table.
Notes From the Past Week
-Deven Marrero missed another game this week with an ankle injury he suffered last weekend. His status against Texas Tech is not yet known.
-Mike Zunino hit two homers in a 3-for-3 day on Tuesday, but went 0-for-3 on Wednesday for his first game this season without a hit.
The schedule for the top draft prospects this weekend:
4:00 PM EST – Georgia Southern (Chris Beck) at Elon
7:00 PM EST – Florida (Mike Zunino) vs Florida Gulf Coast
8:00 PM EST – LSU (Kevin Gausman) vs Michigan
8:30 PM EST – Stanford (Mark Appel) vs Rice
9:30 PM EST – Arizona State (Deven Marrero) at Long Beach State
4:00 PM EST – Florida (Zunino) vs Florida Gulf Coast
5:00 PM EST – Arizona State (Marrero) at Long Beach State
1:00 PM EST – Florida (Zunino) vs Florida Gulf Coast
4:00 PM EST – Arizona State (Marrero) at Long Beach State