Everything that could go wrong for UCLA on MLB signing deadline day did. Draftees and MLB teams had until midnight eastern Monday night to agree to a contract or the player would be play college ball in the spring of 2012. That went for all incoming freshmen or college players with eligibility remaining. Heading into Monday, UCLA had four players on the fence, all of whom had a somewhat reasonable chance of turning down the pros for college, but by the end of the day all had put pen to paper and were officially professional baseball players.
Many of the deals on deadline day aren't done until the final hour. The players that the Bruins had an interest in pushed it even further, agreeing to deals in the final 20 minutes to make it a horror of a half hour for the Bruins.
Mitchell Beacom was the first of the quartet to sign, agreeing to a deal with the Giants, who selected him in the 20th round. The next to sign was the biggest surprise as Austin Hedges agreed to terms with the Padres. They selected him 82nd overall after he dropped because of signability concerns, but the Pads shelled out $3 million, which is well over the recommended signing bonus. Tyler Goeddel was next to sign, getting $1.5 million from the Rays, who selected him 41st overall. The final player to sign was Joe Ross, with that announcement coming in minutes after the deadline passed when he got $2.75 million as the number 25 overall draft pick from the Padres.
At 11:40 pm ET, the Bruins had a shot at going 4-4. By 12:10 am ET they were 0-4. It was a pretty awful half hour for UCLA. Hedges was a shocker. He fell all the way to the second round because he was a tough sign and he proved how tough of a sign he was by making the Padres agree to a monstrous $3 million signing bonus to get him. Beacom was a guy that the Bruins had a good chance to get back, but as a junior, this was his last year that he could be drafted with some leverage. Goeddel was always likely to sign so while UCLA had a chance and dreaming of him in a Bruin uniform was hardly delusional, that wasn't a surprise when he passed on college ball. Ross was a guy who was expected to sign when he was drafted, but word as the summer went on was that he was leaning closer to going to school so there was some disappointment in there.
Looking ahead to next year, Beacom could be the biggest loss. He's the least talented of the four and lowest draft pick, but one of the big reasons UCLA struggled last year was a lack of depth in the bullpen. It was at its worst in the postseason when Beacom was out with a broken foot and head coach John Savage was waving to an empty set of mounds in the bullpen. That could be the problem in the bullpen again. Nick Vander Tuig figures to move to the rotation, leaving Beacom as the only reliever that the Bruins leaned upon a year ago. Now Beacom is gone and every single member of the UCLA bullpen is a question mark. Talented, yes, but a question mark.
Losing Hedges is also a dent. He has a bat that needs work, but several scouts have called him the best defensive catcher they have ever seen at the high school level. With Steve Rodriguez moving onto the pros, Hedges could have given the Bruins stability behind the plate, but now they have just Tyler Heineman and maybe Richard Brehaut.
As far as pitchers go, few are as projectable as Ross. One scout told me that you could put him at any position in the field and he would look natural there. That's the type of athlete he is. He just started pitching so there was work, but he's a guy who could have been an All-American with some seasoning. He has the bloodlines too considering his brother was one of the top pitchers in the Pac-10 for Cal.
Rounding things out is another sensational athlete with bloodlines. Goeddel could play a few different positions, but what he would have really brought to the Bruins is a great bat, which is something they could use. It's a bat that could use some work and he could get a little stronger, but he was a guy who could have ended up in the middle of the Bruin order. As the younger brother of Erik, who pitched for the Bruins when they went to the College World Series, some hoped he would have a tie to the school to get him to pass on the Rays offer, but he's going the pro route.
One thing that didn't surprise the Bruins as the deadline came and went was Gerrit Cole signing. That was to be expected and a huge bonus was expected as well, but the right-hander ended up with a gigantic bonus of $8 million from the Pittsburgh Pirates. That tops the bonus that last year's number one overall pick, Bryce Harper, got by $1.75 million so in the land of non-surprises, it was all smiles for the Bruins.
Even with the four guys opting for the pros, the Bruins are hardly in pieces. They still have a strong recruiting class that keeps the program in good shape, but the three would-be incoming freshmen would have made it one of the best in the country. So it's not time to panic in the least, but it is a missed opportunity on what turned out to be an awful night for the Bruins. It's impossible to blame the quartet for choosing to fulfill their dreams of playing pro ball, but it's tough not to be disappointed with the 0-4 day.