The assigned values for picks in the top 10 rounds of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft and for each team’s four international slots have increased by 1.7 percent over last year’s figures, according to a document I’ve obtained.
The total of the Draft bonus pools for all 30 clubs equals $205,786,400. The total of the international bonus pools for all 30 teams is $79,194,000. The industry as a whole spent $219,302,880 on Draft bonuses in 2013, and had paid out $88.7 million on applicable international bonuses through Feb. 9 (the signing period runs through June 15).
The Marlins, who have more selections (13) in the first 10 rounds than any club, have the highest Draft pool at $14,199,300. The Astros, who own the No. 1 overall choice for an unprecedented third straight year, rank second at $13,362,200. That top pick is valued at $7,922,100, just shy of the all-time Draft bonus record of $8 million, paid by the Pirates to No. 1 overall selection Gerrit Cole in 2011.
The lowest Draft pool belongs to the Orioles, who forfeited their first- and second-round choices by signing compensation free agents Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz. Baltimore has an allotment of $2,204,400.
Our month of updated Top 20 Prospects lists and state-of-the-system reports at MLBPipeline.com concludes today with the Reds and Rockies. I saw plenty of interesting players when I checked out the Rockies at their Cactus League base at Salt River, and here’s one I didn’t mention in the camp report . . .
Another breakout candidate: Johendi Jiminian
Signed for $350,000 from the Dominican Republic in 2010, Jiminian spent the first three years of his career in Rookie ball and is still waiting to make his full-season debut after his fourth. Ticketed for low Class A Asheville in 2014, he could emerge as one of Colorado’s top lower-level pitching prospects.
There’s still a lot of projection remaining in his 6-foot-3, 170-pound frame, and Jiminian already has an impressive fastball. He routinely works in the low 90s with good life, pounding the bottom of the strike zone.
Jiminian cut his walk rate from 6.4 innings in 2012 to 2.6 last year, and he also improved his secondary pitches. But Bridich said the biggest gains the 22-year-old right-hander made in 2013 came with his mound presence.
“He’s a young kid who has grown up a lot and become a man,” Bridich said. “He throws in the low to mid-90s with deep angle on his fastball. His breaking ball and changeup are at least average, and plus at times. He was a little scared when he came over here, but he’s a competitor now.”
The MLBPipeline.com version of March Madness ends today with updated Top 20 Prospects lists and state-of-the-system reports for the Reds and Rockies. Here’s an interesting Reds nugget that didn’t make it into my Cactus League camp report from Goodyear . . .
Three questions with Amir Garrett
Garrett’s upside as an athletic 6-foot-5 left-hander who can hit 96 mph led the Reds to draft him in the 22nd round in 2011, give him a $1 million bonus and let him play college basketball at St. John’s. NCAA transfer rules mandated that he sit out this hoops season after moving on to Cal State Northridge. He used his time off to attend spring training and will be part of low Class A Dayton’s Opening Day roster.
MLBPipeline.com: Have you reached any decision about picking one sport?
Garrett: Right now, nothing is set in stone. I’ve been in a camp for a while but I’m not committing myself to anything yet. I’m not saying I’m done with basketball. I’m just focusing on baseball right now, doing what I need to do. When the time comes, I’ll know. I don’t know when that time will be, so I’m just going with the flow.
MLBPipeline.com: Do you prefer one sport to the other?
Garrett: I love them both equally. That’s why it’s tough to give one of them up. I love to do both, so even though it’s difficult I find a way to do it.
MLBPipeline.com: How much progress have you made in six weeks of spring training?
Garrett: I’ve improved a lot, in my pitching, in my delivery. Everything is coming along well. I just need time on the mound.
Another breakout candidate: Dorssys Paulino
After signing for $1.1 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, Paulino made his pro debut the following summer as the second-youngest regular in the Rookie-level Arizona League. The shortstop had no problems adapting, as he batted .355/.404/1.014 and earned a late-season promotion to short-season Mahoning Valley.
That spectacular performance earned Paulino a trip to the low Class A Midwest League at age 18 last year. This time he was the youngest everyday player in the circuit, and this time he didn’t dominate, hitting .246/.297/.349.
Paulino still has the same quality bat speed and a higher offensive ceiling than most infielders. He had his best month of the 2013 season in August, setting the stage for what the Indians believe will be a strong return to the MWL.
“He’s still just 19,” Cleveland farm director Ross Atkins said. “He has had a great offseason and a great spring training. He has improved his athleticism and overall strength. He’s a lot more confident and has a much better foundation for success at Lake County. Last season affected his confidence but it didn’t affect his work.”
The MLBPipeline.com spotlight shines on the Diamondbacks system today. Here’s a bonus item that wound up on the cutting-room floor when I wrote my Cactus League camp report from Salt River . . .
Three questions with Braden Shipley
Scouts rated Shipley as the third-best college pitcher in the 2013 Draft, so the Diamondbacks were thrilled to get him with the 15th overall pick. The first player ever taken in the first round from the University of Nevada, he orignally was recruited as a shortstop.
MLBPipeline.com: I think it’s mandatory that we ask this of all position players-turned-pitchers. Do you miss hitting?
Shipley: I do. But what’s actually been kind of fun is getting the chance to hit a little bit in camp. We had a little competition one day to see who could hit the ball back through the hole on the ball feeder, and I won it. It feels good swinging the bat. But making the transition to full-time pitcher has been fun.
MLBPipeline.com: Scouts say you have the potential for three plus pitches. How would you rank them?
Shipley: I think my fastball is definitely my best pitch. I can run it up to 97-98 mph when I want. I have that sixth gear where it kicks into overdrive. My fastball is my best pitch, then my changeup, then my curveball.
MLBPipeline.com: For a guy who can sit in the mid-90s and touch 98 mph with his fastball, scouts sure talk about your changeup a lot. Considering that you’ve only been a full-time pitcher for two years, how did you pick up a quality changeup so quickly?
Shipley: The summer after my freshman year, when I was going to Alaska to pitch, I knew the one thing I needed was a changeup. I spent so much time on my changeup and fastball up there that I lost my feel for my curveball, but in the long run, it’s been good for me. I use a modified circle changeup, my own personal touch. It’s just a feel thing. Once it got more like I wanted it to, I stuck with it. Now I can throw it like I want to, where I want to. Guys ask how I throw it and I try to help them out. It’s rewarding to get asked about it because of all the hard work I put in.
Our wall-to-wall Rangers coverage today at MLBPipeline.com includes an updated Top 20 Prospects list. As I’ve done for all the Top 20s I’ve written, I give you the next five prospects who would have made an expanded list, plus a sleeper:
21. Marcos Diplan, rhp. One of three seven-figure international signings by the Rangers last summer, he landed a $1.3 million bonus. He’s small for a starter at 5-foot-10, but he combines stuff (fastball to 96 mph, promising curveball) and polish like few 17-year-olds.
22. Chris Bostick, 2b. Acquired along with Michael Choice from the Athletics in exchange for Craig Gentry and Josh Lindblom in December, he’s a line-drive hitter who’s athletic and versatile. The big question with Bostick is whether his hands are soft enough for him to stay in the infield.
23. Jose Leclerc, rhp. He averaged 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings in low Class A last year, thanks to a lively mid-90s fastball and a nasty cutter. Leclerc also throws a curveball and changeup that can be average pitches at times, though his lack of command and feel likely will keep him in the bullpen.
24. Drew Robinson, 3b. While he has progressed slowly since signing as a fourth-round pick from a Las Vegas high school in 2010, he has the approach, left-handed swing and power potential to profile well offensively at third base. Robinson isn’t especially quick but gets the job done at third base.
25. Cody Buckel, rhp. He went from Rangers minor league pitcher of the year in 2012 to suddenly losing his control in 2013, when he walked 35 in 10 2/3 innings. Buckel looks like he has put those problems behind him this spring, showing a low-90s fastball to go with a solid curveball, slider and changeup.
My favorite deep sleeper: Roman Mendez, rhp. One of three prospects acquired from the Red Sox for Jarrod Saltalamacchia in July 2010, he became a full-time reliever in 2013 but missed most of the year with a stress fracture in his elbow. When healthy, Mendez has a 92-96 mph fastball with sink and backs it up with a slider and splitter.
Three questions with Alex Gonzalez
Gonzalez blossomed from an 11th-round pick out of a Florida high school in 2010 to the 23rd overall selection last June after three years at Oral Roberts. Signed for $2,215,000, he reached high Class A by the end of his first pro summer.
MLBPipeline.com: Scouts love the life on your low-90s fastball and mid-80s slider, and your ability to command them despite how much they move. Have your pitches always danced this much?
Gonzalez: I’ve always had natural movement on my fastball. I’m trying to focus on throwing it straighter at times to help my catcher, but for the most part I command it. I get myself into trouble at times trying to figure out the movement. Now I’m getting more sink with a two-seamer than natural cut. My slider, it’s more of a cutter now because of the velocity. I’m trying to throw a slider now that’s a little less firm than my other pitches.
MLBPipeline.com: How did you go from high school in Boca Raton, Fla., to Oral Roberts in Tulsa, Okla.?
Gonzalez: My high school coach as a junior and senior, Justin Timmerman, was a volunteer at Oral Roberts. I wanted to commit as a junior and I did research on the head coach at the time, Rob Walton. I knew he would help me get a lot better. Before I came to Rob, I was more like a thrower. He set the mentality with me to be more like a hunter, get two strikes and then finish the hitter off. I pikced up my slider from Rob, too. I had more of a slurvy curveball in high school, but he gave me the grip and my slider.
MLBPipeline.com: It’s hard to find a story about you that doesn’t refer to your nickname. Do you prefer to go by Alex or Chi-Chi?
Gonzalez: I’d rather be Chi-Chi. I’ve had that nickname since I was young. My grandpa’s brother gave it to me. I never really asked why. I was just Chi-Chi. My parents and family called me that, and when they started coming to games and called me that, other people picked up on that.
Another breakout candidate: Tayron Guerrero
Guerrero is one of the most intriguing prospects in the system. Signed out of Colombia in 2009, he’s a 6-foot-7 right-hander with an electric arm.
Guerrero’s fastball can put triple digits on radar guns, and his slider has power to it as well. He has been very slow to develop, however, as he’s 23 years old and has pitched just 3 2/3 innings in full-season ball.
He’s still learning to harness his stuff, as evidenced by his 6-12, 5.09 record and 135/120 K/BB ratio in 146 2/3 pro innings. But Smith says Guerrero looks like he’s ready to take a significant step forward in 2014.
“Guerrero looks like he might be clicking in,” Padres vice president for player development and international scouting Randy Smith said. “He can touch 100 and it looks like he’s playing catch doing it. His slider has gotten better and his changeup has gotten better.”
21. Ryon Healy, 3b/1b. His lackluster .230/.255/.402 pro debut notwithstanding, he was one of the better college bats available in the 2013 Draft. A third-rounder, Healy has the swing and bat speed to hit for both power and average, though his plate discipline fell apart last summer. While the A’s will give him every chance to stick at third base, most scouts think he’ll wind up across the diamond at first.
22. Kyle Finnegan, rhp. Another product of the 2013 Draft, he was a sixth-rounder with a live arm but a track record of inconsistency at Texas State. Finnegan can run his fastball up to 97 mph, and Oakland already has made some progress tightening up his delivery and his curveball.
23. Arnold Leon, rhp. Signed out of the Mexican League in 2008, he’s on the verge of making his big league debut in his seventh season in the organization. Leon throws tons of strikes with a plus changeup and a low-90s fastball, but he’ll need to do a better job locating his pitches to reach his ceiling as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
24. Tucker Healy, rhp. No relation to Ryon, this Healy was a 23rd-round pick out of Ithaca in 2012 who posted a 1.31 ERA with 74 strikeouts in 48 innings in Class A last year. He doesn’t overpower hitters at 87-93 mph, but he misses bats thanks to his hard sink and the deception provided by a low arm slot.
25. Anthony Aliotti, 1b. The 2009 15th-rounder broke out in 2013 by leading the Double-A Texas League in hitting (.350), on-base percentage (.452) and slugging (.541). Aliotti cooled off after a promotion to Triple-A and he’s already 26, but Oakland sees him as a guy who contribute with his capable bat and slick glove.
My favorite deep sleeper: Seth Streich, rhp. A two-way player at Ohio, he needs more polish now that he’s a full-time pitcher. But when he’s on, Streich has a hard sinker and flashes a solid slider and changeup.
Another breakout candidate: Daniel Robertson
The A’s got a potential superstar shortstop prospect when they took Addison Russell with the 11th overall pick in the 2012 Draft. They got a second quality prospect at the position with their next selection.
Robertson, signed for $1.5 million as the 34th overall choice, batted .277/.353/.401 as a 19-year-old in the low Class A Midwest League last year. The most promising member of an all-prospect Beloit infield, he makes consistent hard contact and has the bat speed and strength to blossom into a 15-homer threat. His numbers could take a huge jump this year as he moves to the hitter’s haven that is the high Class A California League.
While he’s a below-average runner, Oakland gives Robertson a chance to stay at shortstop. His arm, hands and instincts are all assets, and he’s a reliable fielder who made just 13 errors in 99 games at Beloit.
“He can play shortstop,” farm director Keith Lieppman said. “He’s steady like Mike Bordick was but with some power. He has great makeup. He’s a tough kid.”