The 2013 MLB first-year player draft day has finally arrived and later this evening we will learn who the Twins have selected in a draft that many of the “talking head” experts claim has three sure-fire stars, but the Twins draft fourth.
There have been 61,666 players drafted since the draft was instituted in 1965 when the Kansas City Athletics selected Arizona State outfielder Rick Monday with the very first pick. So far, 24 of these players have gone on to become Hall of Fame players. Of these 24 HOF players, eight were selected in round 1 and no first pick overall is on this list. Not to build up hope and put too much pressure on the Twins selection tonight but three HOF players (Carlton Fisk, Dave Winfield, Barry Larkin) have been selected as the fourth pick overall. The Boston Red Sox (Carlton Fisk, Wade Boggs, Jim Rice) and the San Diego Padres (Dave Winfield, Ozzie Smith, Tony Gwynn) lead the list of HOF players drafted with three each, the Minnesota Twins have selected two Hall of Fame players in Bert Blyleven in 1969 and Kirby Puckett in 1982. The latest round that a HOF has been picked? That would be the Philadelphia Phillies 20th round pick in 1978, Ryne Sandberg.
Just because a player is drafted does not mean that he will be signed. In 2012, 73.74% of the players drafted were signed, between 2000 and 2011 the percentages varied between 56.56% and 64.85%, so why the huge jump in 2012? Probably due to the fact that the draft was reduced from 50 rounds to 40 rounds for the first time. But percentages can be deceiving, in 2012 there were 913 players signed, the lowest number since there were 895 draftees signed in 2006.
Over the years first round picks were often signed to huge ridiculous contracts but now that a slotting system was implemented in 2012, that has changed the landscape for everyone. In addition a bonus pool is assigned to each team limiting them to what they can spend on their first 10 picks. These limits however are only “strong recommendations” and teams can spend more but they have to be prepared to pay a luxury tax and possibly even give up their first rounds selection for next year and/or the year after depending on how much they exceed the slot amount. The Twins bonus pool number for their top 10 picks for this year is $8,264,500 and their fourth overall pick has a slot limit of $4,544,400.
It has been reported that some teams are looking to limit what they pay to their top selections so that they have more pool money to spend on their lower top 10 picks. I find that an interesting concept but not one that I think I would pursue if I was the GM. For me, it is all about quality versus quantity. According to MLB, they looked at how the 2012 opening day rosters were structured and here is what they found.23.36% were round 1 picks 11.37% were round 2 picks 9.03% were round 3 picks 7.76% were round 4 picks 9.35% were round 5 picks 14.80% were selected in rounds 6-10
It will be interesting to see if the Twins find diamonds with their picks or if their picks turns out to be no more than lumps of coal, but either way the Twins will pay big money to add these new prospects to their organization. Draft picks are no different than baseball in general, you never know what you will get each year. I think someone said some thing like this about a box of chocolates once upon a time…
UPDATE – The Twins selected right-handed pitcher Kohl Stewart who also was a star quarterback at St. Pius X High School in Houston, Texas with their first selection. Stewart throws about 95 MPH and has touched 97 MPH and is widely regarded as having a “high ceiling” but first, the Twins have to sign the high school star so he does not accept his football scholarship to Texas A&M. Stewart is a type 1 diabetic but that should be a non-issue. The Twins then selected right-hander Ryan Eades from LSU with their second pick. Eades is reported to throw a fastball between 90-95 and has a hard breaking ball as part of his arsenal. The down side with Eades is his injury history which reportedly includes a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder in high school.