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August 7, 2007

Future Shock

First Round Update

by Kevin Goldstein

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Sunday's piece on the draft generated a whirlwind of email responses, many of them looking for specific information about a specific pick. Here's a broader look at where the first-round selections are at, both signed and unsigned. Again, as I wrote on Sunday, despite the 13 first-round picks who remain unsigned, and despite the deadline looming at just over a week away, most within the industry feel that all 30 picks will be professionals when we wake up on August 16.

1. Devil Rays: David Price, LHP, Vanderbilt
Advisor
: Bo McKinnis
Status: Unsigned
Where It's At: There were some rumors earlier that Price was one of the many players who has agreed to terms but has not had his deal announced, but some quick investigation into the matter proved them to be unfounded. Price will almost definitely get a contract done, but deals at the top always take a while, and it will likely be a late announcement, as Price will likely sign a deal that is well above slot (somewhere in the $6-7 million range), while also getting a major league deal as part of the package.

2. Royals, Mike Moustakas, INF, Chatsworth HS (California)
Advisor
: Scott Boras Corporation
Status: Unsigned
Where It's At: When I asked scouts, scouting directors, and agents which first-round picks had the greatest chance of not shining, Moustakas drew the second-highest number of votes after Rick Porcello. That said, with the Royals making a draft-day decision to switch from Josh Vitters to Moustakas, they surely had some sort of conversation with Boras to at least get a price range that they were comfortable with. As with most Boras clients, negotiations are at a standstill, with little movement after the Royals made their initial offer of $3.15 million, which is slot. He'll demand far more than that, likely more in the $4 million range, and it's difficult to see how playing three years at the University of Southern California would make him any more money.

3. Cubs: Josh Vitters, 3B, Cypress HS (California)
Advisor
: CAA Sports
Status: Unsigned
Where It's At: Like Price, Vitters is generally considered a lock to sign, but his representatives are smartly seeing how the pieces around him fall into place before agreeing on a number. He's committed to Arizona State, but that's just a formality--he'll be a pro next year.

4. Pirates: Daniel Moskos, LHP, Clemson
Advisor
: SFX Sports Group
Status: Signed July 17th; $2.475 million bonus
Where It's At: While he was certainly a Top 10 prospect on most boards, Moskos was a bit of an overdraft at four, and it's no surprise that he's the only one of the first five picks to have signed. He made a pair of warm-up appearances in the Gulf Coast League last week, striking out three over three scoreless innings, and reported to Pittsburgh's New York-Penn League affiliate over the weekend. The Pirates insist that he'll be developed as a reliever, which means that he could start 2008 as high as Double-A.

5. Orioles: Matt Wieters, C, Georgia Tech
Advisor
: Scott Boras Corporation
Status: Unsigned
Where It's At: A surprising pick when it was made, because you can't get a more oil-and-water combination than Peter Angelos and Scott Boras. That said, negotiations have been surprisingly private, and by all accounts free of any acrimony. This deal is going to get done, and while it won't be in the Mark Teixeira territory that Boras was floating prior to the draft, it will still be a big league package, and likely second only to Price in this draft. Speaking of Teixeira, some see this negotiation as a stepping stone to the Orioles working in the future with Boras when the Maryland-native first baseman becomes a free agent after 2008.

6. Nationals: Ross Detwiler, LHP, Missouri State
Advisor
: CAA Sports
Status: Signed July 5th; $2.15 million bonus
Where It's At: The general consensus was that the Nationals would go for a big name with the first pick, but when Wieters went off the board, they opted for the best slot-ready talent available, saving some extra money to take a shot at some players that dropped like Josh Smoker and Jack McGeary (also a CAA client). Detwiler is too good for the Gulf Coast League, but the Nationals didn't want to break up their prospect-laden rotation at Short-Season Vermont. In 12 innings, Detwiler has 15 strikeouts and just three walks; he'll likely be ready for Double-A by 2009.

7. Brewers: Matt LaPorta, 1B/LF, University of Florida
Advisor
: Scott Boras Corporation
Status: Signed June 25th; $2 million bonus
Where It's At: Despite being a Boras client LaPorta signed quickly, as he not only went much higher than many expected him to, but as a college senior had little in the way of leverage. The success of this pick could depend on his eventual position, as the Brewers have announced that he'll be developed as a left fielder despite the fact that LaPorta is anything but athletic and played first base for the majority of his college career after converting from catcher. In six games for Helena in the Pioneer League--three in left field and three as designated hitter--LaPorta is 6-for-23 with a pair of home runs.

8. Rockies: Casey Weathers, RHP, Vanderbilt
Advisor
: SFX Sports Group
Status: Signed July 5th; $1.8 million bonus
Where It's At: While the philosophy of using a top 10 selection to take a player who will only pitch 60-70 innings per year in the big leagues is an area of much debate, Weathers should move quickly. At Low-A Asheville, he's been nothing short of dominating so far, striking out eight of the 16 batters he has faced.

9. Diamondbacks: Jarrod Parker, RHP, Norwell HS (Indiana)
Advisor
: Reynolds Sports Management
Status: Unsigned
Where It's At: There are a couple things going on here. First off is the advisor. Larry Reynolds, who for those who don't know is Harold's brother, has a consistent track record of letting the market establish itself and negotiating late. Both of the picks after Parker are unsigned and one for sure is looking for an above-slot deal, so Reynolds is hoping he can turn that into a better figure for his client. The second consideration is that Parker is a little disappointed with going ninth, and his expectations have to be changed. For the last two weeks leading up to the draft, Parker was thought to be going third to the Cubs, until Josh Vitters was suddenly available to them. So Parker lost somewhere between 500,000 and a million dollars with that decision, and that's a hard pill to swallow. All of that said, Parker will likely sign at the deadline and give the hitting-heavy Arizona system a high-ceiling power arm.

10. Giants: Madison Bumgarner, LHP, South Caldwell HS (North Carolina)
Advisor
: Mike Milchen
Status: Unsigned
Where It's At: This one is a bit problematic. Bumgarner's people were furiously calling teams in the days leading up to the draft to let them know that their client wanted "Clayton Kershaw money," which means $2.3 million. Now, Bumgarner is good, but he's not that good, and the Giants either ignored the comment, or didn't take the call, as they have no desire to go over slot (at least not that much) with the 10th pick in the draft, one of three first-round picks they had. For now, traction in talks has been minimal, with the Giants sticking to the recommended slot of $1.8 million. In reality, Bumgarner has little leverage, but he's currently threatening to go to junior college for a year, but beyond the injury risk factor, he'd actually have to be better than expected to improve his draft status, as he'd now be labeled as difficult. That kind of gamble isn't worth the 500 large in the grand scheme of things.

11. Mariners: Phillippe Aumont, RHP, Ecole Du Versant HS (Quebec)
Advisor
: Dan Lawson
Status: Unsigned
Where It's At: Aumont is one of the more surprising unsigned picks. He really has no college options, and without trying to sound harsh, he comes from a difficult background and could use the money. The Mariners are looking to sign him for slot, and he only wants slightly more. It will likely end with a signing for somewhere in between the two figures, and while it's just barely over slot, MLB will still push to delay the announcement until the last minute.

12. Marlins: Matt Dominguez, 3B, Chatsworth HS (California)
Advisor
: Total Sports International
Status: Unsigned
Where It's At: Dominguez will likely sign, and likely for no more than slot. Getting drafted by the Marlins is never especially fun for players, as few teams adhere to the slot system more than Florida does, who with location and stadium problems needs to stay in the good graces of MLB corporate. That said, Dominguez was seen mostly as a mid-first round talent, so the slot at 12 should represent the upper tier of his pre-draft expectations.

13. Indians: Beau Mills, 3B/1B, Lewis Clark State
Advisor
: Hendricks Sports
Status: Signed June 15th; $1.575 million bonus
Where It's At: Mills was one of the initial first-round picks to sign, though it's not as if Cleveland has been a historically cheap team, and they're still in negotiations with their fourth and seventh round picks, lefties T.J. McFarland and Cole St. Clair, for above-slot bonuses. Mills was one of the better pure hitters in the draft, but he lacked a defensive home. Currently at Low-A Lake County, Mills has had an up and down debut, and is sitting at .269/.331/.446 after 32 games.

14. Braves: Jason Heyward, OF, Henry County HS (Georgia)
Advisor
: Career Sports Management
Status: Unsigned
Where It's At: According to industry sources, this is one of those deals that is done but not announced. Indications are that Heyward's advisors simply asked that the Braves ignore the 10 percent slot reduction and give Heyward the $1.7 million received by last year's No. 14 pick, Toronto's Travis Snider. As Heyward was generally considered to be better than the 14th-best talent, the Braves agreed. This deal should be announced soon, and might be one of the deals that opens the floodgates to the others.

15. Reds: Devin Mesoraco, C, Punxsutawney HS (Pennsylvania)
Advisor
: Hank Sargent
Status: Signed June 22nd; $1.4 million
Where It's At: The way Mesoraco zoomed up on draft boards in the last weeks leading up to the draft, even an underslot bonus seemed good. Rarely tested against top competition in high school, it's not a big shock that Mesoraco is struggling early as a pro, batting just .244/.319/.317 in his first 23 Gulf Coast League games, but throwing out nearly 40 percent of opposing basestealers.

16. Blue Jays: Kevin Ahrens, 3B, Memorial HS (Texas)
Advisor
: Hendricks Sports
Status: Signed June 15th; $1.44 million
Where It's At: Unlike Mesoraco, Ahrens was arguably the best prep hitter in the baseball hotbed of Texas, so his struggles are more surprising. Slowly acclimating to third base after starting out at shortstop, Ahrens is hitting just .200/.311/.267 in 105 at-bats with 34 strikeouts.

17. Rangers: Blake Beavan, RHP, Irving HS (Texas)
Advisor
: Hendricks Sports
Status: Unsigned
Where It's At: The negotiations with Beavan have become a bit acrimonious, but it's nothing that can't be overcome. Prior to the draft, Beavan expected to go in the 11-13 range, and now he wants to be paid like that--namely, signing for somewhere around $1.7 million. The Rangers are holding firm to their slot offer of $1.4 million, knowing that they already will need to call the commissioner to go over slot with supplemental first-round picks Julio Borbon and Neil Ramirez. Like Bumgarner, Beavan is threatening to spend a year at a junior college, but like Bumgarner, he stands little to gain with such a gambit.

18. Cardinals: Peter Kozma, SS, Owasso HS (Oklahoma)
Advisor
: Hendricks Sports
Status: Signed July 23rd; $1.395 million bonus
Where It's At: If anything, it's surprising that it took a month for Kozma to sign, as he was seen as a bit of an overdraft, and even slot money likely exceeded initial expectations. The signing also gives the Cardinals a little more wiggle room to sign fourth-round pick Kyle Russell, who will likely get $1 million. After a four-game Gulf Coast League warmup in which he went 2-for-13, Kozma is now in the Appy League with Johnson City, where he's 3-for-12 with three walks and just one strikeout.

19. Phillies: Joe Savery, LHP, Rice
Advisor
: CAA Sports
Status: Signed July 18th; $1.3725 million bonus
Where It's At: Savery's up-and-down stock was on the rebound by the end of the year, and he signed fairly quickly. He made his pro debut on Sunday, firing three shutout innings and allowing just one hit while on a strict pitch count of 40.

20. Dodgers: Chris Withrow, RHP, Midland Christian HS (Texas)
Advisor
: Hendricks Sports
Status: Signed June 15th; $1.35 million bonus
Where It's At: Withrow was a surprise this high, but who is anyone to question the Dodgers in their evaluation of teenage arms? His 5.63 ERA in five Gulf Coast League games is irrelevant--check out the 12 strikeouts in eight innings and the four no-hit innings in his last two appearances.

21. Blue Jays: J.P. Arencibia, C, University of Tennessee
Advisor
: CAA Sports
Status: Signed June 15th; $1.3275 million bonus
Where It's At: Many thought Arencibia played his way out of the first round with an injury-plagued, inconsistent junior year, but the Blue Jays went off what he was on people's boards going into that season, which was a sure-fire top-15 selection. He's struggling as a pro, hitting just .237/.285/.345 in 38 New York-Penn League games.

22. Giants: Tim Alderson, RHP, Horizon HS (Arizona)
Advisor
: CSMG
Status: Signed July 22nd; $1.29 million bonus
Where It's At: Alderson settled for slot money once all the picks around him did the same. An Arizona native, he didn't need to take a plane to attend the Giants camp, and should pitch for their complex team a few times before the season is up.

23. Padres: Nick Schmidt, LHP, Arkansas
Advisor
: Hendricks Sports
Status: Signed June 28th; $1.26 million bonus
Where It's At: Schmidt was rumored to maybe go in the Top 10 picks for a team that was willing to sacrifice ceiling for assurance, but that never materialized. Expected to rocket through the system, he was surprisingly ineffective at Low-A Fort Wayne, allowing 14 base runners in seven innings before flying to California for an MRI on his elbow; results will be known soon.

24. Rangers: Michael Main, RHP, DeLand HS (Florida)
Advisor
: Hank Sargent
Status: Signed June 19th; $1.2375 million bonus
Where It's At: A two-way star who had borderline first-round talent as a center fielder, the Rangers let him DH three times a week while getting his arm ready, and since moving to the mound in the Arizona League, he's been unstoppable, with 9 2/3 shutout innings in four games and 13 strikeouts.

25. White Sox: Aaron Poreda, LHP, University of San Francisco
Advisor
: Sosnick Cobbe Sports
Status: Signed June 17th; $1.2 million bonus
Where It's At: Poreda got the full Ten Pack treatment on Monday.

26. Athletics: James Simmons, RHP, UC Riverside
Advisor
: Hendricks Sports
Status: Signed June 18th; $1.1925 million bonus
Where It's At: Simmons was seen as one of the safer picks in the draft, and one who could move quickly through the minors. His deal mandated an assignment to Double-A Midland, so clearly he thinks so as well. In eight games, he's held his own with a 3.57 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with 17 strikeouts and just two walks. While he has given up 19 hits, all but one have been singles.

27. Tigers: Rick Porcello, RHP, Seton Hall Prep (New Jersey)
Advisor
: Scott Boras Corporation
Status: Unsigned
Where It's At: Before the draft, Boras indicated that Porcello would require Josh Beckett's deal adjusted for inflation, which means roughly $10 million and a big league deal for a teenage pitcher. That plummeted the best high school talent available down to the end of the first round, where Detroit, assuaged by scouting director David Chadd's penchant for power arms, found him too good to pass up. He's not going to get that Beckett deal, but rumors have Detroit getting ready to make an offer north of $4 million, which would be hard to walk away from.

28. Twins: Ben Revere, CF, Lexington Catholic HS (Kentucky)
Advisor
: Barry Meister
Status: Signed June 11th; $750,000 bonus
Where It's At: Revere was the most surprising pick in the first round, and also the first to sign, which isn't surprising considering that his bonus is the lowest for a first-round pick since 1998, not counting players who had their bonuses altered following injury revelations. The fastest player in the draft, Revere is outplaying many of the more 'legitimate' picks in the round with a .328/.373/.481 line in the Gulf Coast League that includes 32 runs, eight triples, and 14 stolen bases in 33 games. The saved cash on the Revere signing will likely be used to sign fourth-round pick Reggie Williams and fifth-rounder Nate Striz, who are both looking for something in the range of $100-150,000 over slot.

29. Giants: Wendell Fairley, OF George County HS (Mississippi)
Advisor
: Jeff Kahn
Status: Unsigned
Where It's At: With three first-round picks and six selections among the first 51, the Giants decided to go the Ben Revere route at 29, but things aren't working out as expected. A supreme athlete with raw baseball skills and some makeup issues, the Giants expected Fairley to sign quickly, but according to sources, once Fairley became a first-round pick, he expected to be paid like one. The same sources indicate that the Giants have upped their offer to $900,000, and Fairley will likely sign for something around that figure.

30. Yankees: Andrew Brackman, RHP, North Carolina State
Advisor
: Scott Boras Corporation
Status: Unsigned
Where It's At: While everyone expects Brackman to sign by the deadline, two questions plague the negotiations. The first is just how much money he'll get, and the second (which has a direct relationship to the first) is the rumor that Brackman needs elbow surgery. It's hard to make any prediction on the answer to the first until we know the answer to the second.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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