Certainly the big news surrounding UCLA Baseball this weekend is the sweep of Cal State Fullerton and the Bruins' upcoming trip back to Omaha and the College World Series. But the just-completed Major League Baseball Draft - and the contract negotiations to come - will have a major effect on the program's future.
A number of current Bruin players and incoming recruits were among the 1216 players selected over the 3 days of this year's draft. Major League teams have just over a month to sign their drafted players (July 12, 2pm Pacific signing deadline) or lose their rights, sending them back to their current or committed-to college.
Where in those three days has significance in terms of how large of a signing bonus a team can offer to a drafted player. After years of having a (n often ignored) set of suggested bonuses for picks, MLB recently implemented a salary cap for each team in the draft, focusing on players selected in the first 10 rounds.
The basics of this system: Each individual draft pick in the first 10 rounds of the draft (316 picks) is assigned a signing bonus value, with the #1 overall pick getting the largest dollar value, decreasing until we get to the 316th selection. The bonus values of every draft pick for each MLB team is totaled, resulting in a hard cap on bonuses that a team can spend - teams can spend more or less than the assigned value on a particular draft pick, as long as they do not go over when all of their draft picks are taken together. If a team spends less that their bonus cap, they can use the excess to offer larger signing bonuses to players taken in later rounds of the draft (which may apply to a couple of our incoming signees).
The 'Slot Values' noted below reflect the 2013 assigned pick value for where that player was taken - per Baseball America.
Seven current UCLA players (all juniors) were selected in this year's draft:
- Nick Vander Tuig (6th round, 192nd overall - Giants)
- Slot value: $212,300
- Zack Weiss (6th round, 195th overall - Reds)
- Slot Value: $206,200
- Patrick Valaika (9th round, 259th overall - Rockies)
- Slot Value: $148,500
- Adam Plutko (11th round, 321st overall - Indians)
- Brenton Allen (20th round, 616th overall - Nationals)
- Kevin Williams (29th round, 862nd overall - Marlins)
- Ryan Deeter (32nd round, 962nd overall - Brewers)
Additionally, eight high school prospects who have committed to UCLA were picked this week (ht - islandbruin2):
- Gosuke Katoh (2nd round, 66th overall - Yankees)
- Slot Value: $845,700
- Dom Nunez (6th round, 169th overall - Rockies)
- Slot Value: $265,000
- Dustin Driver (7th round, 221st overall - Athletics)
- Slot Value: $162,000
- Steven Farinaro (11th round, 335th overall - Cardinals)
- Jonah Wesely (11th round, 337th overall - Angels)
- Scott Burke (31st round, 917th overall - Astros)
- Luke Persico (37th round, 1099th overall - Rockies)
- Dominic Miroglio (40th round, 1211th overall - Athletics)
I will leave the major analysis of whether these guys will sign pro contracts or come to Westwood this fall for the comments and future posts as the July signing deadline gets closer. But a few thoughts on our high school signees to get everyone started.
As a first day (top-2 rounds) draft selection, the likelihood of Gosuke Katoh making it to Westwood is pretty small. While Gerrit Cole's experience of picking UCLA over the Yankees out of high school worked out for the best, that really was the exception to the rule. Per the draft coverage at Pinstriped Bible (our SBN colleagues blogging the Yankees), Katoh was a bit of a reach in the 2nd round. The writer covering the draft at River Ave Blues agrees with that assessment, leading them to the theory that New York got him to agree to take an under-draft slot signing bonus (clearing extra space for their 3 1st round picks) in exchange for making him their 2nd round pick.
As opposed to Katoh likely being a reach, the next two future Bruins (I hope) to come off the board were drafted later than their prospect ratings would have placed them. Baseball America ranked Dom Nunez as the #63 prospect entering the draft, corresponding to a late 2nd-early 3rd round grade all else equal. And Dustin Driver was another guy who fell due to signability concerns. Some of the early post-draft talk over at Athletics Nation has the A's making a run at breaking his commitment to UCLA with a well-above slot signing bonus, though ESPN (Insider) does not think the A's can meet his rumored million-dollar asking price.
The Cardinals will be making a strong effort to get Steven Farinaro to break his UCLA commitment beyond what one might expect for an 11th round pick, at least if these Quotes from St. Louis's scouting director are anything to go by.
Farinaro, a UCLA committ, could turn out to be one of the Cardinals' most difficult signs, but Kantrovitz said he has first- and second-round talent.
"We're thrilled with how it all played out," Kantrovitz said. "Based on saving some money yesterday through some more cost-certainty maneuvers, we could then translate that into some higher-upside guys early on [Saturday]."
... adding that signing bonus, not round selected, is most indicative of how a club views a player's Major League prospects.
"For example, a guy like Steven Farinaro, who we took [Saturday]," Kantrovitz said. "If we're fortunate enough to sign him, his bonus will be a lot more than some of the guys that went before him.
It sounds like the Cardinals will not be afraid to greatly exceed the $100,000 soft cap on post-round 10 signing bonuses to get Steven into their organization. On the bright side, he did spend the past 4 years at a very elite, non-baseball factory prep school. In the same way that I felt optimistic earlier in the year in football recruiting that Issac Savaiinnaea would pick UCLA over Texas A&M after his parents had shelled out for him to prep at Punahou, Steven may well end up signing with the Cards, but my guess is that it will take a very significant offer to get him.
But, that is just one person's take on this particular Bruin draftee. What do you all think?