Monday, August 15, 2011

Draft Deadline Eve

Major League Baseball's deadline for amateur draftees to sign professional contracts is midnight eastern time, which is in less than 6 hours. Toronto General Manager Alex Anthopolous likely has an extremely busy evening ahead of himself, as at the time of this paragraph being written, he has only signed a reported 31 of his 55 draftees. Most notably lacking from those 31 are the Blue Jays three big amateur pitchers -- Tyler Beede (1st round, 21st overall), Kevin Comer (1st Supplemental round, 57th overall), and Daniel Norris (2nd round, 74th overall).

The three draft picks have a lot in common:

1. They are all highschool pitchers
2. They all have a boatload of potential (middle to top of the rotation starters)
3. They all have serious commitments to big name colleges (Beede and Comer to Vanderbilt, Norris to Clemson)
4. They all have expensive demands (which is tied into the three previous points)

Due to Major League Baseball's policy of refusing to approve contracts that involve above slot signing bonuses until the day of the deadline, minimal negotiations occur between top talents and their prospective teams until very close to, or on, August 15th. Teams typically have a strong idea of what a players financial demands are well before the June draft, and as they are the only team the player can negotiate with, discussions between the team and the "player's representative" take a short amount of time. The team will make an offer and the player will respond. A small amount of back and forth will occur, before eventually the team will make a "take it or go to college" offer, likely very close to midnight, at which point the player must make a decision on his future.

The reported demands of the Blue Jays three prized highschool draftees have been making their way through baseball's front offices since the spring, and, due to the power of the internet and Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN, and other news outlets, have made their way into the knowledge banks of the general public. Tyler Beede, Toronto's first round pick, has been reported to be seeking 3M in order to pass up his college commitment to Vanderbilt. His potential Commodore teammate, Kevin Comer, is reportedly seeking 2M. Daniel Norris, the last of the three drafted but the highest of the three on most draft boards, has reportedly demanded 3.5-4M to skip out on his Clemson commitment. In total, the three are demanding that Toronto forks over upwards of 9M.

Whether or not they are worth that sort of money is certainly up for debate, but I expect Toronto to submit strong offers to each of the three, and hope atleast two of them sign. In terms of public relations, I expect the front office would like to avoid a repeat of the 2009 draft, in which Toronto failed to sign 3 of their top 4 draftees, one of whom (James Paxton) is now soaring up prospect rankings as a member of the Seattle Mariners organization.

Below are scouting reports on Tyler Beede and Daniel Norris, from Jonathan Mayo of's pre-draft Top 50 list.

RHP Tyler Beede, 6'4", 200 lbs

There might not be a high school pitcher with better mechanics than this Massachusetts product. The right-hander has a clean and effortless delivery, and the ball comes out of his hand really well. Beede throws his fastball 89-93 mph, sitting comfortably at 91-92 mph, with good late life. He's got a nasty hard breaking ball, which is kind of between a curve and a slider, with the shorter break of a slider, but with the depth that looks more like a curve. He's also got good feel for a changeup, and he's got above-average command of all three pitches. He pitches now like an advanced college arm, something it might be difficult to sign him away from doing at Vanderbilt next year.

LHP Daniel Norris, 6'2", 180 lbs

With all the hard-throwing right-handers in this Draft class, it's easy to forget about the high school lefties. Norris might be the best of the lot. The Tennessee prepster has plenty of arm strength in his own right, and it's from the left side, always an exciting combination. His fastball is a plus for a southpaw -- he'll sit around 92 mph but has a little extra he can reach back for. He commands his fastball very well. His curve can be inconsistent, but it should be a plus pitch with hard bite to it. He'll also throw an average changeup, though he obviously doesn't need it much at the high school level. He gets high marks for his mound presence and makeup. There are some concerns with some mechanical flaws in his delivery and his ceiling may be as a No. 3 starter, but that's certainly not nothing and it's enough to get him off the board in the first round.

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