The top of the MLB Draft is no stranger to Vanderbilt players and commits, and this year was no different. With three players and 3 commits (would have been 4 commits, but LHP Jason Groome switched his commitment to Chipola JC at the last minute for extra negotiating leverage) going in the top three rounds, and more getting drafted this weekend, now is a good a time as ever to look at what this means for our '17 roster.
Rd. 1 Lot A Pick 36 - RHP Jordan Sheffield (Rs. So.) - Los Angeles Dodgers - Has not signed (Pick value: $1,791,000)
Rd. 2 Pick 45 - LHP Ben Bowden (Jr.) - Colorado Rockies - Has not signed (Pick value: $1,422,900)
Rd. 2 Pick 59 - OF Bryan Reynolds (Jr.) - San Fransisco Giants - Has not signed (Pick value: $1,090,000)
Going into the draft, I had Sheffield and Reynolds pegged for mid-first to early second round picks, and Ben Bowden as a second to third rounder. In general, I was right, but Foil dropped about half a round further than I thought would have been his floor. I expect all to sign for at or near slot value by the July 15th MLB signing deadline. Sheffield and Reynolds could be fast movers, but I'll be conservative and peg their MLB debut dates as '18 September call-ups, or the beginning of '19. Bowden, like most highly drafted relievers, could be in the Rockies bull pen by the end of this year or early '17 - many MLB draft commentators believe he'll be the first in this draft class to reach the majors. However, the Rockies may want to try him out as a starter. This would be a mistake, in my opinion, and would push his MLB debut back a few years. Either way, I have a tough time seeing him as anything but a big left-handed arm in the back of a bullpen.
Rd. 11 Pick 335 - C Jason Delay (Jr.) - San Fransisco Giants - Has not signed (Pick value: $100,000)
Rd. 11 Pick 346 - LHP John Kilichowski (Rs. Jr.) - St. Louis Cardinals - Has not signed (Pick value: $100,000)
Rd. 25 Pick 751 - 3B Will Toffey (So.) - Baltimore Orioles - Has not signed (Pick value: $100,000)
I had both Delay and K-Chow in the Rd. 11-20 range, so I nailed that, but I neglected to include Will Toffey in the draft preview, as it had slipped my mind that his birthday just barely made him a draft eligible sophomore. When this was pointed out in the comments, I fixed the glitch, and said that Toffey might be drafted in the late rounds, but will all but certainly be back in '17. Of this group, I would put it as highly probable that K-Chow will sign with the Cardinals and Delay will sign with the Giants for around $100,000, but I am nearly 100% certain Toffey will be back as our starting 3B in '17, barring the Orioles somehow having saved enough bonus money in rounds 1-10 to be able to throw a massive contract offer at the hockey player/3B.
*Note: Players selected after round 10 can be offered more than $100,000 (and obviously, can be offered much much less), but any dollar exceeding $100,000 will be counted against their round 1-10 bonus allotment. Further, if a player drafted in the first 10 rounds does not sign, their slot value is subtracted from the team's overall bonus pool. In other words, if Jordan Sheffield decided to return to Vandy, the Dodgers would not be able to give $1 of the $1,791,000 slotted to Sheffield's draft slot to a different player. As such, MLB teams can only go over $100,000 on anyone picked in rounds 11-40 if they have signed their round 1-10 picks to contracts worth, in total, less than they have been allotted in slot value for the sum of those rounds. As of press time, there have been no dramatic under slot deals signed (the biggest being the #1.5 million under slot the Cincinnati Reds gave #2 overall pick Nick Senzel, though they have already used up most of that bonus money on their next selection) , though a few teams have managed to shave off hundreds of thousands of dollars in slot value on a few contracts already signed. Many teams have already handed out over slot deals, as the Atlanta Braves gave #40 pick - Kansas HS LHP Joey Wentz - nearly double his $1.6 million slot value, Cincinnati gave Georgia HS OF Taylor Trammell (pick #35) $1.3 million over slot, and the San Diego Padres, signed a 3rd round pick - Texas HS RHP Mason Thompson, picked one slot below current VU commit Thomas Jones - to a deal worth more than $1,000,000 over slot.
Rd. 1 Pick 3 - RHP Ian Anderson - Atlanta Braves - Has not signed (Pick value: $6,510,800)
Rd. 1 Pick 7 - LHP Braxton Garrett - Miami Marlins - Has not signed (Pick value: $3,756,300)
Rd. 3 Pick 84 - OF Thomas Jones - Miami Marlins - Has not signed (Pick value: $741,700)
Ian Anderson is expected to be an under slot signing relatively soon (it was reported that he and the Braves had pretty much agreed on a deal before the draft, and the monetary savings motivated Atlanta to draft him a bit higher than he would have otherwise been drafted). Braxton Garrett is also expected to sign, and is another under slot candidate (though not as under slot as Anderson will be paid), as the Marlins will need to cobble together another $750,000 or so to get Thomas Jones in the fold. Jones is also expected to sign, but it will likely be closer to the July 15th deadline, as he is not expected to sign for slot value. I would imagine the Marlins would at least need to come up with $1.5 million to sign him away from his commitment, though I expect them to be able to do so, as all but their top three picks are college players who should agree to under slot deals, and with no 2nd round pick, Miami will make signing Jones their #1 priority once they get a deal done with Garrett. I predict Garrett signs for $3 million, and Jones signs for $1.5 million when it's all said and done.
Rd. 15 Pick 459 - OF Kobie Taylor - Texas Rangers - Has not signed (Pick value: $100,000)
If Thomas Jones signs with the Marlins - and this is likely - we will need the speedy CF from Portsmouth, NH to make it to campus. With Reynolds leaving, Kendall will naturally slide over to CF, but as a team with a weakness in LF last year even with All-Americans like Kendall and Reynolds manning CF and RF, we clearly need more depth at the outfield positions. Luckily, I'd place this at about a 20% chance Texas is able to sign Taylor. Texas is normally aggressive in drafting high upside HS players, and this year was no different. They have already signed their top three picks to slot or slightly over slot deals, so they will likely not have much excess bonus pool money to tempt their later draft picks with. With so many over slot candidates to deal with, I'm sure Texas will take their best shot at signing Taylor, but I expect them to fall well short of his number. Beyond that, Corbin has always had great success getting Northeastern players, especially New England players, to campus. With the rare starting opportunity present at his position, I say Taylor bets on himself, plays a corner outfield spot in Hawkins Field next year, and then moves over to CF for the next two seasons.
Rd. 39 Pick 1164 - OF JJ Bleday - San Diego Padres - Has not signed (Pick value: $100,000)
Next to no chance Bleday signs. He'll be a Commodore barring something crazy.
*See note above for information on over slot deals for players drafted after the 10th round.
The remaining 9 commits did not hear their names called this weekend, so all should make it to campus. Of them, my best guess as to who might compete for playing time next year are: LHP Jackson Gillis, RHP Drake Fellows, LHP Zach King, and C Tyler Duvall, who might just be able to split time with Karl Ellison next year.