First Pitch: The New Draft Slotting Rules Seem to Be Working

I’ve never been a fan of the new draft rules. I liked the old system where teams could spend whatever they wanted. I think if teams are allowed to spend whatever they want in free agency, then they should be able to spend whatever they want in the draft. I also never bought in to the fear that the Yankees and Red Sox could someday decide to pour all of their resources in the draft and out-spend the Pirates. The draft isn’t like free agency. If the Pirates draft someone, then it doesn’t matter how much money the Yankees or Red Sox have. The only person who can sign that player would be the Pirates.

We’re starting to see what the old system brought the Pirates. Tyler Glasnow and Nick Kingham are emerging as top pitching prospects this year, and guys who could have future top of the rotation potential. The 2008 draft is starting to look like a good one with the emergence of both Justin Wilson and Jordy Mercer this year. Plus there’s guys in the following drafts like Brandon Cumpton and Brock Holt who have helped out at times over the last year.

That’s not to say that the Pirates can’t find success under the new system. It just means they’re less likely to find a Tyler Glasnow in the fifth round, and get him to sign.

The one thing I do like about the new rules is that they seem to have worked as far as cutting down spending and speeding up the signing process. Here we are two weeks away from the signing deadline, and the Pirates have already signed all of their big picks. It’s almost looking like the signing deadline will be an extremely boring day. There’s the chance that they could spend some of the pool savings they’ve accumulated and get a tough sign after the tenth round. It’s also possible that those signings could take place before July 12th.

Austin Meadows and Neal Huntington
Austin Meadows was only the second player in the top ten picks to sign for full slot. (Courtesy: Pittsburgh Pirates)

So far, out of the 33 first round picks, 27 have signed. Of those 27 picks, 15 have signed for slot, including Austin Meadows. Ten players have signed for below slot, including Mark Appel and Reese McGuire. Only two players have signed for above-slot deals, with six more holding out.

In the past, if you signed early, you were signing for slot or under slot. If you held out, it meant you were looking for an above-slot deal. That doesn’t seem to be the case under the new system. If you sign early it still means you’re signing for slot or under slot. But it seems that the players holding out aren’t holding out to get above-slot deals, but are holding out to get the full slot amount. So far the perception has been that players holding out will require an above-slot deal.

That’s the case with some players. Meadows and JaCoby Jones just accepted the full slot amount, but last I heard 7th round pick Buddy Borden was looking for an above-slot deal. The good news is that the slot price doesn’t seem to be automatic, especially in the top ten. Of the seven guys who signed out of the top ten picks, only two have received full slot value. All of the guys who signed before Meadows probably signed early because they weren’t holding out for the full slot value.

We’ve seen the opposite under the new draft rules already. Mark Appel held out and didn’t sign last year because he wanted way over slot. The Pirates didn’t give it to him, and instead got a compensation pick this year, which they used on Meadows. And if you want to compare them in a trade-like method, it wouldn’t be Appel vs Meadows. It would be Appel vs Meadows, Reese McGuire, Blake Taylor, next year’s first and second round picks, and about $2.75 M in taxes. The Pirates were smart for passing on Appel, and Appel ended up getting more money this time around, so he looked smart holding out for one more year, even if Pirates fans don’t like it.

The Pirates currently have $232,800 remaining for over-slot deals this year. That means they could spend $332,800 on a guy after the tenth round (or $216,400 each on two players, since you get $100,000 per guy before you start spending the pool money). If they went up to 4.9% over the bonus pool amount, they would receive a tax on the overage. However, they’d have a total of $668,145 to spend and wouldn’t lose any draft picks.

These amounts won’t get them the type of talent they could have had under the old system. There won’t be a draft like 2011 where they spend $8 M on Gerrit Cole, $5 M on Josh Bell, then still get Tyler Glasnow and Clay Holmes in the middle rounds. However, they could get an interesting guy outside of the top ten rounds. The best options would be Billy Roth, Nick Buckner, or Carson Cross. Last year the Pirates signed Max Moroff, Hayden Hurst, and John Kuchno to above-slot deals after the 10th round, spending $525,000, and being left with $92,600 in their bonus pool. If they go up to 4.9% over this year, you could probably expect the same type of results, with hopefully one of those three guys previously mentioned added to the list of signings.

Links and Notes

**Check out the newest episode of the Pirates Prospects Podcast: P3 Episode 11: Second Half Sleepers and When Can Tony Sanchez Help?

**If you missed it earlier this week, be sure to check out Pirates Roundtable – Episode 1. This week we had Pat Lackey (WHYGAVS), Brian McElhinny (Raise the Jolly Roger), Jim Rosati (North Side Notch), Cory Weibel (Three Rivers Burgh Blog), plus our own James Santelli and Tom Bragg.

Draft Signings

**Pirates Sign Austin Meadows.

**Pirates Notebook: With Meadows Signed, Do Bucs Have MLB’s Best Farm?

**Pirates Sign 28th Round Pick Jerry Mulderig.

**Pirates Sign 30th Round Pick Will Kendall.

**2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Pick Signing Tracker.


**Prospect Watch: Lambo Does It Again; Garcia Continues Hot Month.

**West Virginia Wins 8-6 In Heredia’s Second Start.

**Prospect Trends: Some Lower Level Players Start Off Well.

**Pirates Aren’t Linked to Any of the Top International Prospects.

**Minor Moves: Indianapolis Makes Room For Sanchez and Welker.

**DSL Prospect Watch: Pirates Drop Yankees, Down Angels.

**Minor League Schedule: A Busy Saturday For The System.


**Pirates Use Seven-Run Inning, Cole’s Quality Start to Beat Brewers.

**Tony Sanchez Returns to Triple-A, Pirates Recall Josh Harrison.

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Tim: I have always been curious about stocking the minor league system.

1. The baseball draft lasts many rounds and you can see every year that many of the players drafted don’t sign. What is the average percentage of draftees that sign? Is there an optimal percentage of players signing that teams expect?

2. I assume there is some degree of turnover, especially in the lower minors as guys hit the wall, find out they don’t like pro ball, decide to go to college etc. And I am sure that every year the big club cuts players, who just aren’t cutting it. What are the percentages of guys that don’t make it out of the low minors? How many guys does the big club cut each year?

3. Major hypothetical. Suppose every single guy who was drafted by a team decided to sign. How would a team handle such an abundance of riches, since they would probably already have rosters pretty much set at Bradenton and Jamestown? Are there roster limits at this level? Do we just ship them off to the Domincan League?


Pike{ Not Tim, but I may be able tyo help – Last firsy
3. Many of the folks drafted are courtesy picks. Teams know who will sign and who will not, so if a team thinks they may be interested in a kid who is committed to attending college, it does not hurt to help them a little. Believe me, when a kid is drafted, scouts tend to pay attention to them during college. And then there is always the friends, relatives, and others that a team may want to honor just by drafting them – something that can never be taken away. Or if your Manager is the Godfather of a player like Mike Piazza taken with the last pick of the Dodgers one year just to be nice. And when it comes right down to it, the team limits the number of kids offered a contract.
2. I think the odd are long like maybe 8% of all the kids who play HS will advance beyond HS. From there it is a real longshot to get into pro ball at even the lowest levels of the minors. Pirates 2007 – Watson, Welker, McPherson/ 2008 – Alvarez, Mercer, d’Arnaud, Wilson/ 2009 – Irwin/ 2010 – Cumpton. Hope it helped.

Matt Beam

Borden looking for more than $400K? If not, I think you burn most of the remaining $230K to get him signed, get Frazier for at slot if he’s willing, and that leaves any of the 3 post 10th round guys that Tim mentioned

Nathan Swartz

I’m just in awe of how much positive stuff is surrounding the buccos.

Side note: any chance they might take a flier on Alex Liddi who was just DFAd by Seattle. 3b option, still just 24, decent minor league numbers.


Tim: Agree 100% that the penalty for Appel would have been too great to give him the money he was requesting, therefore the plan to draft him, have him decline so we could get better picks in 2013, has worked very well for the Pirates. I think this would have been the first possible draft eligibility year for the 2010 kiddies like Taillon, 21, and Kingham, 21, (4th Rd). and they are both at AA now and possibly AAA by the end of the year. Brandon Cumpton was a 9th Rd pick that year also 2011 was a big year already and will get even better in the future. Gerrit Cole is already in the Pirate Rotation, 2nd pick Josh Bell, 20, is doing well at Lo A after missing most of last year due to injury. We got Tyler Glasnow , 19, in the 5th Rd, and a “sleeper” I like, Clayton Holmes, 20, in the 9th Rd.You mentioned Max Moroff, 20, drafted in the 16th Rd in 2012 and is doing very well in his first year of full schedule baseball at Lo A. Only a .247 BA, but the switchhitter has 13 doubles, 2 triples, 5 HR, and 37 RBI in just a little over 200 AB’s. Most impressive is the W/K Ratio of 1/1 with 45 Walks and 44 K’s, which helps a lot toward a .760 OPS. He has fielding issues, but is a kid who can stay at SS, and will get better with maturity and instruction.

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