Minors Only - Draft Signings Recap

August 18, 2009

The draft signing deadline is one of the most exciting days of the year for anyone who follows the minor leagues. With so much not being announced until the bitter end, there are a lot of on the edge of your seat moments. If you're not reloading Baseball America or Twitter every minute, a lot can get lost in the shuffle.

Here is a recap of various draft signing storylines:

Nationals sign Strasburg to record deal 

Stephen Strasburg, who went first overall to the Washington Nationals, agreed to a four-year, $15.67 million contract, which eclipses the previous record payout ($10.5 million to Mark Prior in 2001). At the same time, it fell short of pre-draft rumors of a $20, $30 or even a $50 million deal. Strasburg instantly becomes one of the best prospects in the game and should be in the Washington rotation sometime next year.

The historic contract is a game-changer for both Strasburg and the Nationals.

"No 21-year-old deserves such responsibility; but Strasburg has put the Nats squarely on baseball's map, on the list of can't-miss attractions in the game that must be seen," wrote Thomas Boswell of The Washington Post.

Rangers fail to sign 1st rounder Purke

Despite a rumored $4 million offer, the Texas Rangers failed to come to terms with 14th overall pick Matt Purke, who now becomes a member of the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. While most unsigned high school draft picks need to wait three years before re-entering the draft, Purke will be a draft-eligible sophomore in 2011. It has been speculated that the financial troubles of owner Tom Hicks may have played a role in the failure to sign Purke.

“I’m not going to sugar coat it: we wanted to sign the guy. But it wasn’t meant to be,” Texas general manager Jon Daniels told The Fort-Worth Star-Telegram.

Rays, Jays come up short at the top

The Tampa Bay Rays did not sign their first rounder, LeVon Washington, or their second round selection, Kenny Diekroeger.

"We are disappointed that LeVon has chosen not to sign with the Rays. We offered him a bonus consistent with late first-round picks. Immediately following the draft, he seemed eager to sign but it has not materialized," Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told The Associated Press.

By not signing with the Rays, Washington seemed set to play for the University of Florida, but he reportedly failed to meet the school's academic requirements. He could end up playing in the independent leagues or enrolling in a junior college program.

The Toronto Blue Jays signed their top pick, Chad Jenkins, for $1,359,000, but couldn't come to terms with supplemental first rounder James Paxton, who reportedly turned down an above-slot offer. The Jays also failed to ink second rounder Jake Eliopoulos and third rounder Jake Barrett.

"We went into this year's draft with eyes wide open, knowing that we were taking players that had options and leverage. But we knew we had some leverage too, knowing that if we couldn't sign those players, we'd get those picks back in 2010. So we decided to swing for the fences," Blue Jays scouting director Jon Lalonde told TSN.

Matzek signs afterall

Prep pitcher Tyler Matzek was the one first rounder who many thought may go unsigned. In the end, the 11th overall pick agreed to a $3.9 million bonus, giving the Colorado Rockies a fearsome trio of pitching prospects -- Jhoulys Chacin Christian Friedrich and Matzek.

It wasn't a given, but Givens signs

After announcing they had broken off talks with Mychal Givens, the Baltimore Orioles agreed with the 54th overall pick on a $800,000 bonus. A two-way player in high school, Givens may be a hitter going forward.

"We saw him last summer a great deal, and I'm always going to lean toward offense if we feel that we can keep a player on the dirt. And at shortstop, we need to add depth at that position in our system," Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan told MLB.com.

Givens had committed to Oklahoma State.

Keeping a locker for him just in case

The Los Angeles Angels signed tenth rounder Jake Locker, who also plays football for the University of Washington. While Locker figures to pursue a football career, the Angels control his baseball rights for the next six years, and he is said to have “Hall of Fame” caliber talent on the diamond. The Angels had previously drafted Locker in 2006.

Mets add area native to system

The star-crossed New York Mets didn't pick until 72nd overall, but made it count by going over-slot on Long Island native Steve Matz, whose bonus is believed to be $895,000. The negotiations were far from easy.

"The negotiations were very stressful and draining. We agreed just before midnight. And then we were so wiped out, we were up until 3 (in the morning)," Matz told Newsday.

Quite a catch

Wil Myers had first-round talent, but slipped to the third round due to signability concerns. The prep catcher received a $2 million bonus from the Royals, which proved to be higher than the bonuses received by 15 first rounders. Max Stassi, another top high school backstop who fell due to signability, netted a $1,500,000 bonus after being taken by the Oakland Athletics with the 123rd pick.

Crow, Scheppers yet to sign

Aaron Crow and Tanner Scheppers, two 2008 draftees who re-entered the draft after not signing last year, have yet to sign. Unlike other players in the draft, they were not subject to the August 17th deadline and can negotiate until a week before the 2010 draft. Crow was drafted by the Kansas City Royals 12th overall this year while Scheppers was picked by the Rangers with the 44th pick.

Facts and figures

The Kansas City Royals doled out more in bonuses on their third and fourth round picks (Myers and Chris Dwyer, $3.45 million) than the Arizona Diamondbacks did on the 16th and 17th overall picks (Bobby Borchering and A.J Pollock, $3.2 million). 

The Pittsburgh Pirates dished out more in bonuses on their sixth and eighth round picks (Zach Von Rosenberg and Colton Cain, $2.32 million) than the Seattle Mariners did on the 27th and 33rd overall picks (Nick Franklin and Steven Baron, $2.26 million). 

Catch up on all the draft signings at our draft forum.


Contact Ryan Fay at rfay@projectprospect.com