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Draft News and Notes

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From time to time, I'll post a very bloggy post with a nice roundup of links and summaries so that people know where to go for expert opinions from people in the industry itself. Here's some places to hit up.

The commissioner's office reduced slot recommendations by 10%, a sign that they want to use the struggling economy to artificially attempt to reduce signing bonuses. While I agree that bonuses are on the verge of exploding into the out of control arena, this was pretty much a useless move when talking about the first round. They attempted this shenanigan in 2007, and bonuses still rose, so there's no reason to think that they won't this year. However, while most are completely critical of the soft slotting system in MLB, I'm actually somewhat in favor of the system. Slotting keeps bonuses down past the first round, and as you've seen in my draft previews, the huge part of draft budgets for teams are the first round picks alone. Slotting only covers the first five rounds, so if a team cuts its second through fifth round bonuses by ten percent, which is quite likely, they could save somewhere between $150K and $200K. That's easily enough to bridge the gap between a good player in the later rounds and the team's budget levels. So a team could go out with the same budget and get one more solid player, probably at the expense of some bonus money for the second to fifth rounders, as well as cutting some $10K bonuses in the mid to late rounds for less quality four year college players. Teams should be thanking Bud Selig for this development. Looking round by round from a year ago, there was 1 overslot bonus given out in the supplemental first round, 11 in the second, 4 in the third, 2 in the supplemental third, 8 in the fourth, and 6 in the fifth. So the vast majority of those picks sign for slot. Nine first-rounders signed for above-slot a year ago. Two also didn't sign. But on the whole, while bonuses will still likely go up, and while there will be a few more holdouts, I expect to see a slight increase in the number of above-slot bonuses handed out in the 6th-12th round range, which will bring more talent into farm systems.

In other news, BA released their newest draft tracker and updated their draft tracker chart. These are free, so please read them. In addition, they've added a few more stories in their draft blog, including an update on Tyler Skaggs' ankle injury, a writeup on the best prep Canadian prospect Jake Eliopoulos, some info on Tyler Matzek's latest start, and a quick JUCO article with a sentence on Brett Wallach, whom I featured in my JUCO article a few days ago. These short pieces are also free, so I highly recommend them to everyone.

BA also released their Top 100 Draft Prospects list, and you can see the list with statistics for free. Some interesting notes include the fact that I'm not the only one that's bearish on Grant Green, my placement of Tim Wheeler so high is quite merited, and LeVon Washington has risen as fast as anyone I've ever seen that has had so many limitations during the spring of their draft year. Rich Poythress, Matt Davidson, Jiovanni Mier, Tommy Joseph, Drew Storen, and James Paxton are all outside the top 32, with surprises such as Washington and Everett Williams taking their place. It's not a big deal, though, as teams' boards are all over the place this year. Here are the individual scouting reports for those prospects, though that's behind the BA pay wall. It's up to you whether you want to see those reports that badly or not.

Over at Crosschecker, the draft coverage also continues, though you'll be hard-pressed to find anything for free there. They released their own top 100, and the only big differences are that they love Mike Minor and Drew Storen, while they don't favor Washington or Kentrail Davis. Two JUCO players make their list, but I've got my hands tied by the pay wall as to who they are. I did profile both of them, though. They've also had their follow lists up for quite awhile, though only a few are on their final version now. Their state previews are coming out now, and they have up Alabama, California, Florida and Puerto Rico. Alabama's pretty barren this year, but California and Florida are deeper than usual, as is Puerto Rico, who has their best class in a number of years. It's worth the money to read their reports, as they give tons of info on individual prospects, about as much as BA, therefore allowing you to use the two to compare notes. They also have a number of blogs, each with good info on individual prospects taken from seeing the prospects in person. Good stuff.

The ESPN Draft Blog looks at the 1996 and 1997 drafts, in addition to making an attempt to summarize the entire 2009 draft class in three statements. Not easy.

Last, but certainly not least, John Sickels looks at the top righties and lefties in the 2009 class. If you scroll down, you can see his excellent set of writeups on the origins of the best Major League pitchers from the 2008 season, analyzing it from a drafting perspective. There are breakdowns of those pitchers by origin, as well as by college for those with a four year school background. He proposes this question:

"Question: are Pac-10 and SEC pitchers perhaps turning out to be disappointing as pros? To study this we would need to look at ALL picks from those conferences, then compare success and failure rates."

Interesting question, and I'll leave you with that. Comprehensive lists coming out shortly.