This year, 25 pitchers received at least a $1 Million signing bonus to turn pro. This ranges from #1 overall pick Mark Appel, who received $6.35M from the Astros to 2nd round pick (55th overall) Tyler Danish, who took a $1.001M check from the White Sox to start his career. In my opinion, the best so far have been Jonathan Gray and Corey Knebel while Sean Manaea and Ryne Stanek get the default worst of the group since neither have toed the rubber yet this year. Without further rambling, I present the Newest Million Dollar Arms.
WARNING: If you have a slow connection or are viewing this on your phone, I apologize for the wait, there are a lot of pictures.
Hunter Harvey - RHSP, Baltimore Orioles
18 year old RHP Hunter Harvey has certainly gotten off to a hot start since signing for a little over $1.948M as the 22nd overall pick. At 6'3 175 lb, he's got room to grow and pack on some poundage and hopefully, velocity as well. Before the draft he was the rare prep player to publicly state he had zero intentions of going to college. He made 5 starts for the GCL Orioles before getting the promotion to short season Aberdeen of the New York-Penn league. In those 6 starts he's thrown 17.2 IP, allowing 14 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, and 23 K. He's holding the opposition to just a .215 batting average. Next year he will pitch the entire season at the tender age of 19, possibly debuting in Low A Delmarva.
Jonathan Gray - RHSP, Colorado Rockies
As you may recall, going into the draft Gray was seen as a possibility along with Mark Appel and Kris Bryant to go 1st overall to Houston before they decided on Appel. Since then, Gray has outperformed Appel for a little more than $1.5M less, signing for $4.8M ($826K under slot) as the 3rd pick. The 21 year old stands on the hill with an intimidating 6'4 255 lb frame while pumping fastballs routinely in the high 90's. He began his career with 4 starts for Grand Junction of the rookie Pioneer league before jumping up to A+ Modesto, skipping Low A Asheville completely. He was actually worse at Grand Junction, allowing 15 H and 6 ER in just 13.1 IP for a 4.05 ERA and 10.1 H/9. Since the promotion he's only allowed 10 H and 2 ER in 24 IP with 6 walks and 36 K. For the year he's made 9 starts, pitching a total of 37.1 IP, surrendering 25 H, 8 ER, 8 BB while getting 51 K for a 1.93 ERA and just 6.0 H/9. It would not surprise me to see Colorado start Gray in AA Tulsa next year with an outside shot at the rotation by the end of the year if he continues to dominate as he has this year.
Corey Knebel - RHP, Detroit Tigers
When most teams take a pitcher in the 1st round, much more often than not the organization anticipates them to be a starter. Not so with Corey Knebel who signed with Detroit for $1.433M with the 39th overall pick, the last of the supplemental 1st round. Knebel was a lights out closer in college for University of Texas and has continued to do so as a pro. At 6'3 195 lb, the 21 year old right hander has finished out 25 games so far this year, saving 13 of them. He's totaled 26.1 IP for Low A West Michigan, allowing just 12 hits, 2 ER, 8 walks while striking out 36. He's only allowing 4.1 H/9 so far while striking out over 12 batters per 9 innings. Knebel has the profile of a fast moving reliever, probably kicking off 2014 in AA Erie with a promotion to AAA not far off after that.
Kohl Stewart - RHSP, Minnesota Twins
Kohl Stewart was widely seen as the best prep pitcher in the draft, and the Twins thought so as well. He signed for $4.544M as the 4th overall pick. The 6'3 210 lb right hander started his career In the GCL, making 6 appearances spanning 16 IP with a 1.69 ERA. That earned him a promotion to Elizabethton in the rookie Appy league. For the season, he's pitched 20 innings, allowing just 13 H, 3 ER, 4 BB and 24 K. Next year Stewart will spend the entire season at the age of 19, and could presumably make his season debut next year in Cedar Rapids if he continues to dominate the much older competition.
Tyler Danish - RHP, Chicago White Sox
Bahahahahaha. That face. Ok, now that I've addressed the elephant in the article, the goods. Danish signed for a thousand bucks over $1M with the 55th pick overall during the 2nd round. The 6'2 190 lb righty breezed through the rookie Appy league, throwing 26 IP over 13 appearances with a 1.38 ERA. That got him the promotion to Low A Kannapolis in the South Atlantic league. He's only made 1 appearance at the time of writing and it was a dandy, getting 4 K's in 2 IP while allowing a single hit. For the year, Danish has posted a 1.29 ERA spanning 28 IP, with 16 H allowed, 4 ER, 5 BB and 26 K. If the Southsiders decide to keep Danish in the pen, he could make quick work of the minors if he keeps this level of production up. Even though he's a reliever, he's one to keep an eye on that could make an impact sooner rather than later.
The 6'2 205 lb right hander began a string of 10 consecutive college pitchers taken by the Tigers in the 2013 Draft. After he signed for $2.001M as the 20th overall pick, he was sent directly to Connecticut of the New York-Penn league. He's made 8 abbreviated starts spanning 19 IP where he's allowed 15 H, 4 ER, 9 BB and struck out 21. Crawford only threw 86.2 inning in college, so for now he's sitting at 105.2 IP for 2013. Next year expect him to begin the year in Low A West Michigan of the Midwest league and throw around 125-130 innings next year, possibly ending up in Lakeland if things progress well.
Chris Anderson - RHSP, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers went with a college arm for their first pick this year, taking Chris Anderson with the 18th overall selection, inking him to a deal with a $2.109M bonus. The 21 year old right hander was sent straight to Low A Great Lakes in the Midwest league, where he's excelled. In 42 IP, he's allowed just 31 H, 10 ER, 22 BB and 46 K. In college he threw 104.2 IP, putting him at 146.2 IP for the year so far. Look for the Dodgers to test him at A+ Rancho Cucamonga in the Cal league to kick off 2014. I would imagine with his workload this year he should have no problems powering through the grind of the season, throwing up to 175 innings.
Rob Kaminsky - LHSP, St. Louis Cardinals
Kaminsky was the second of two southpaws taken by the Redbirds in the draft, shelling out $1.785M to Kaminsky to keep him from going to school and begin his professional career. He was picked at the end of the 1st round, going 28th overall. Kamisky doesn't even crack 6 ft, coming in at 5'11 191 lb and he bats right handed but throws left. He will be 19 all next year and has spent his first taste of pro ball in the GCL. He's made 8 appearances going a total of 22 IP with 23 H allowed, 9 ER, 9 BB and 28 K. He's done a good job of getting the K but has also been a bit hittable. The Cardinals have zero reason to even begin to think about rushing Kaminsky through the system, so expect him to move at a Rays pace. Johnson City of the Appy league will probably be his destination for next year and will probably stay there the whole year unless he forces the team's hand.
Rob Zastryzny - LHSP, Chicago Cubs
The Northsiders passed on Jonathan Gray with the #2 overall pick, favoring Kris Bryant's power bat, so they drafted a college pitcher in the 2nd round, with the 41st pick. They took southpaw Rob Zastryzny and gave him $1.1M for a bonus, $250K less than slot. He started the year in short season Boise of the Northwest league before getting promoted to Low A Kane County in the Midwest league. For the year he's thrown 24 IP with 24 H allowed, 6 ER, 8 BB and 22 K. In Kane County alone he's posted a 0.93 ERA in 9.2 IP with 9 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, and 6 K. Scrabble will pitch all of next year as a 22 year old so look for him to kick off 2014 with a challenge in A+ Daytona of the Florida State league. The jury is still out though whether he will progress as a starter or in the pen. If it ends up being the latter, expect a more accelerated timetable with an outside shot at Wrigley in 2015.
Trevor Williams - RHSP, Miami Marlins
Miami struck out with their first choice of pitching in the draft, failing to sign 35th overall pick Matt Krook. They did sign 2nd rounder Trevor Williams though for $1.261M with the 44th overall selection. He made a brief appearance in the GCL (1 G) before heading to short season Batavia in the New York-Penn league. He's toed the rubber 11 times this year, going 31 IP with 29 H, 9 ER, 8 BB and 21 K. Williams threw 111.1 innings in college for Arizona St. so he should be good to go next year, barring injury, without many restrictions. Low A Greensboro will be the starting point for him next year with a chance at reaching AA by the end of the year with they way the Marlins have been promoting top prospects.
Marco Gonzales - LHSP, St. Louis Cardinals
Gonzales was the first of the aforementioned lefties to get drafted by the Cardinals, going 19th overall and signing for $1.85M ($205K under slot). He actually struggled a bit to kick off the year, posting a 5.40 ERA in 4 GCL appearances before being promoted all the way to A+ Palm Beach of the Florida State league. For the year he's got a 2.70 ERA through 23.1 innings, allowing 18 H, 7 ER, 8 BB and he's got 23 K's. At Gonzaga he pitched 106 innings, coupled with the 23.1 he's got in pro ball has him sitting at 129.1 IP for 2013. Considering his polish, it's not outside the realm of possibility for the Cards to start him at AA next year and let him throw around 150 or so innings for the year.
Mark Appel - RHSP, Houston Astros
We all know Appel's story. The 8th pick in the 2012 draft passed on signing with the Pirates and came back for his senior season at Stanford. Houston picked him 1st overall this year and signed him with a $6.35M bonus ($1.44M under slot). He made 2 brief appearances for short season Tri-City in the New York-Penn league before moving up to Low A Quad Cities. For the year he's thrown 38 innings, allowing 36 H, 16 ER, 9 BB and 33 K. As far as next year, he could start of the season in either Lancaster or Corpus Christi. Since he threw 106.1 innings at Stanford, and 38 so far in pro ball, expect him to top out around 175 or so innings next year which should only be important if Houston decides to get his feet wet in the bigs in September.
Devin Williams - RHSP, Milwaukee Brewers
With no 1st round picks this year, Milwaukee didn't get to pick until the 2nd round where they went with prep righty Devin Williams with the 54th overall selection. Williams signed for $1.35M ($333K over slot), packed his bags and headed to the Brewers AZL affiliate to begin his career. Standing 6'3 and only weighing 165 lb, he's got room to add to his frame as he matures. He's been a bit wild this year, walking 19 with 9 wild pitches and 3 HBP already in just 31.2 innings. He's also allowed 27 H, 13 ER and has struck out 35 with a 3.69 ERA. Williams should have be given a chance to work on his control in Helena next year of the Pioneer league, so don't expect to see his name pop up again once the season ends until June of 2014.
Braden Shipley - RHSP, Arizona Diamondbacks
There was talk that Shipley could have gone in the first 10 picks of the draft, but he would end up falling to the Arizona Diamondbacks with the 15th overall selection. He recieved a $2.25M bonus to sign and was sent to Hillsboro of the short season Northwest league. In 8 starts there, the results didn't really show, posting a 7.58 ERA with 30 H and 16 ER in just 19 IP to go with 6 BB and 24 K. He was still promoted to Low A South Bend of the Midwest league and has made 3 solid starts there, compiling a 2.65 ERA in 17 IP with just 12 H and 5 ER. For the year he's thrown 36 IP, allowing 42 H, 21 ER, 9 BB and 37 K. He's also already surrendered 3 HR. Shipley threw 107.1 IP in college at Nevada, combined with 36 IP in pro ball, for a total of 143.1 IP so far. Assuming usual progression for young pitchers, 175 will be near his max next year. I'm expecting him to get thrown into the Cal league fire to start next year in Visalia.
Aaron Blair - RHSP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Aaron Blair was taken 20 picks after Braden Shipley, going 36th overall in the supplemental portion of the 1st round this year. The 6'4 205 lb right handed pitcher signed for $1.435M ($112K under slot) and was sent along with Shipley to Hillsboro. He had a much better showing there, posting a 2.90 ERA in 8 games, spanning 31 IP with 25 H allowed, 10 ER, 13 BB and 28 K. He also received a promotion Low A South Bend and has thrown well there as well. For the year, Blair has thrown 43 IP with 37 H, 15 ER, 17 BB, and 38 K with a 3.14 ERA. At Marshall, he wasn't ridden hard, only throwing 82 innings for them. This puts Blair at 125 innings for the year, with a max of around 150-160 next year where he should follow in Shipley's footsteps through the organization.
Alex "Chi Chi" Gonzalez - RHSP, Texas Rangers
First off, I really hope the nickname "Chi Chi" sticks with the dreadful lack of interesting nicknames in baseball. As for the actual pitcher, Chi Chi was selected 23rd overall by Texas and signed for $2.215M ($295K over slot). He's 6'2 and weighs in at 195 lb, throws right handed, and also began his professional career in the short season Northwest league with Spokane. He made 9 starts there, totaling 23.2 IP with a 4.56 ERA, 30 H, 12 ER, 7 BB and 20 K. He jumped Low A Hickory and has made his past 4 starts for A+ Myrtle Beach in the Carolina league. He's done a better job of limiting hits but at the expense of his control, only allowing 13 H in 15 innings with 6 ER, 7 BB and 11 K. For the year, he's gone 38.2 IP with 43 H, 18 ER, 15 BB, and 31 K with a 4.19 ERA. When Gonzalez was pitching for Oral Roberts in college, he was their ace and was used accordingly, throwing 113.1 innings with them. Add in his 38.2 from this season and Chi Chi is already sitting at 152 innings. Also keep in mind last year as a sophomore, Gonzalez only threw 86 innings, so this is quite a jump in workload for him. I can't see him getting another promotion to start the year in AA next year, so Myrtle Beach fans can get another look at him.
Andrew Thurman - RHSP, Houston Astros
After taking arguably the best college pitcher on the board in the first round, the Astros went back to the college ranks to take Andrew Thurman with the first pick of the 2nd round, 40th overall. He signed for $1.397M to forego his senior season at UC Irvine, and start his pro career in Tri-City of the short season New York-Penn league. Thurman stands 6'3 200 lb, an ideal frame for an innings-eating pitcher. He's made 12 appearances so far this year, spanning 39.2 innings where he's allowed 43 H, 17 ER, 11 BB and 5 HR. On the plus side he has struck out 43 already. He only threw 100.1 innings at UC Irvine before being drafted with 140 innings under his belt this year. He's thrown 42 more innings this year than any previous year, so he may be close to done, with a limit near 170 innings next year, which he shouldn't surpass. The organization looks to be taking it slow with Thurman, so I'm thinking Quad Cities will be his new address next year with a promotion if everything looks good.
Jason Hursh - RHSP, Atlanta Braves
The Braves bucked a long standing trend by taking a college right hander this year in the draft, selecting Jason Hursh with the 23rd overall pick. The 6'3 190 lb righty signed for $1.704M and was sent to Low A Rome in the Sally league to start his career. He's been excellent so far, only allowing 2 ER and 20 H in 27 innings. Over that span he's walked 10 while striing out just 15. Its easy to see why the Braves have taken such a cautious approach with Hursh who missed all of 2012 with Tommy John surgery. This year at Oklahoma State, he tossed 106.1 IP, which puts him at 133.1 for the year. Look for him to anchor the Lynchburg rotation next year, throwing around 150-160 innings with a probable promotion to AA Mississippi around mid-season.
Cody Reed - LHP, Kansas City Royals
The Royals took some gambles with their first 3 picks in the draft, none bigger than their 2nd round selection of Cody Reed 46th overall. He's an intimidating presence on the mounding, standing 6'5 and tipping the scales at 220 lb and he comes from the port side. He signed for $1.198M and took his talents to Idaho. The Royals assigned him to Idaho Falls of the rookie Pioneer league, and he's struggled with his command considerably. In 25.1 innings, he has already walked 20, allowed 27 hits, 16 ER, 4 wild pitches, 3 HBP and 23 K. This totals up to an unsightly 5.68 ERA. Though Reed was the ace of his college staff, he only threw 73.1 innings for NW Mississippi CC. Coupled with his performance in Idaho, Reed sits at 98.1 innings for the year. He's probably going to have his workload managed carefully next year, and it would be unlikey he throws more than 130 innings next year. If he continues to struggle with his control at instructs, Reed could wind up back in the Pioneer league or in Burlington of the Appy league instead of progressing to Low A Lexington.
Michael Lorenzen - RHP, Cincinatti Reds
With a second pick in the 1st round of the draft, the Cincinatti Red went with 2 way standout Michael Lorenzen with the 38th overall pick i the supplemental 1st round. They decided to put him on the mound and gave him $1.5M ($30K over slot) to do so. So far, Michael Lorenzen has been moved the fastest of any 2013 draftee, which is very confusing considering he's spent only 44.2 innings on the mound in 2 years at Cal State Fullerton. The Red Legs had the 6'3 180 lb right hander make 1 very brief appearance with the GCL squad, 9 games for Low A Dayton, 5 games with A+ Bakersfield, and now 5 games with AA Pensacola. He's totaled 19 IP in 20 appearances with 18 H allowed, 6 ER, 13 BB and 17 K with 3 HBP and 2 HR allowed. He has also saved 4 games. Its obvious now that he is going to be used as a reliever, which accelerates his time table to The Show quite a bit. I'll be the first to say that Lorenzen will be the 1st player to reach the majors from this draft class, despite his lack of experience.
Ryan Eades - RHSP, Minnesota Twins
After taking the top prep pitcher on the board, the Twins went college pitcher; selecting Ryan Eades with their 2nd round pick in the draft, 43rd overall. He signed for $1.294M and was assigned to Elizabethton of the rookie Appalachian league. The 6'2 178 lb right hander has made 9 relief appearances there, resulting in a 4.61 ERA over 13.2 IP. He's allowed 11 H, 7 ER, 11 BB and 11 K with 2 HBP and 3 wild pitches. Its safe to say his control has not been as good as it was in college. Speaking of college, Eades threw 100 innings for LSU this year. If the Twins decide to return him to the rotation, he should be looking at around 140 innings as his limit for the season. Cedar Rapids is the likely starting point for Eades next year where he will try o keep his control in check.
Trey Ball - LHSP, Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox were holding out for OF Clint Frazier to drop to them with the 7th overall pick, but he was nabbed by Cleveland two picks earlier, so Plan B went into effect. Plan B was prep 2-way player Trey Ball. He was a late 1st round talent as an OF, but with his super projectable 6'5 185 lb frame, the Red Sox took him as a left handed pitcher, signing him for $2.75M ($495K under slot). Since signing, Ball has made 7 appearances for the rookie GCL Red Sox, throwing 7 innings while allowing 10 H, 5 ER, 6 BB and 5 K. Ball will turn 20 half way through the 2014 season, so I can see the Boston front office waiting til June to deploy Ball to Lowell in the short season New York-Penn league.
Ian Clarkin - LHSP, New York Yankees
Clarkin made news not for being the 33rd overall pick by the Yankees, but by declaring that he actually hated the Yanks. A check for $1.65M can change somebody's tune real quick. That's what he signed for after being the 3rd first round pick of the Yankees. Clarkin stands 6'2 186 lb and comes from the left side. Because of a twisted ankle, he's only made 2 appearances for the rookie GCL Yankees, throwing 2.1 innings and allowing 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP and 1 HR already. These stats should be taken with a grain of salt, not only due to such a tiny sample size, but rookie league numbers in general don't mean much. With such limited amount of playing time this year, I wouldn't be surprised to see Clarkin back in the GCL next year to start.
Sean Manaea - LHSP, Kansas City Royals
Sean Manaea has yet to make any professional appearances for the Royals due to surgery on his labrum in his hip. He had the procedure done at the end of June and should be ready to go to start 2014. Manaea garnered national attention with an outstanding performance in the collegiate Cape Cod league, but injuries limited him to only 73.1 innings at Indiana State. The 6'5 235 lb right handed batter, left handed thrower went into the 2013 season as a possible #1 overall pick, but he fell all the way to the end of the 1st round where he was taken with the 34th overall pick. He signed for $3.55M, not only a record for the supplemental 1st round, but $1.927 over the recommended slot bonus. Manaea will be 22 to start the 2014 season so I would expect the Royals to send him straight to Low A Lexington.
Ryne Stanek - RHSP, Tampa Bay Rays
Stanek is another guy who had top 10 pick aspirations before an inconsistent junior year dropped his stock and he slid all the way to the 29th overall pick. This was Tampa's second pick of the first round, and they shelled out $1.758M to sign him. Stanek is a 6'4 180 lb right handed pitcher that racked up 97.1 IP while playing for Arkansas this year. He has yet to appear in a game yet this year due to a wonky hip that's been giving him problems. There was plenty of talk that his pitching mechanics are just begging for an injury, so it could be plausible that Tampa's front office will want to rebuild his motion from the ground up to reduce his injury risk. As far as next year, he will be 22 for half the year and my best guess would have him starting the year in Princeton of the rookie Appy league.