As has been the case in recent years, the top draft picks in the MLB First Year Player Draft usually wait to sign until the last minute. Sometimes literally. This year’s Monday midnight deadline was no different. The top overall pick, Bryce Harper, waited until the very end to sign a deal with the Nationals that reportedly included a $9.9 million bonus.
The Pirates made the second overall pick, Jameson Taillon, an offer that he couldn’t refuse. Taillon had committed to Rice University prior to the draft, but the deal that reportedly includes a nearly $6 million bonus will make most people forego college.
The Pirates second round pick, Stetson Allie, was rated by some experts as a top ten prospect before the draft. One of the reasons he dropped so far in the draft was because a lot of organizations thought he would want too much money, and signability could be an issue.
The Pirates gave Allie a $2.25 million bonus. MLB doesn’t have a slotting system or a salary cap. What they do have is a recommended slotting system. But if a team wants a guy, and is willing to pay him more than what’s recommended, then so be it. Allie’s bonus is more typical of a player taken in the top ten of the draft, not 52nd overall. But the Pirates wanted him, and they got him.
The Pirates also gave good money to their fourth round pick, RHP Nicholas Kingham ($485,000), 17th round pick RHP Ryan Hafner ($450,000), first baseman Jared Lakind ($400,000), and 15th round pick, shortstop Drew Maggi ($468,000).
All told, the Pirates spent approximately $12 million on 27 players. “We’ve got a vision,” GM Neal Huntington said. “We’ve got a plan. We’re in the midst of executing it.”
But the top two pitchers will define this draft for the Pirates. Both are very highly rated and should add another level of excitement. “To get two guys alike in your system — two of the top high school pitching prospects in the country — is phenomenal,” manager John Russell said the day after both signings were announced. “We said coming in that to get to the point where we need to be as an organization, the Draft was going to be very important…I’m very proud of the work they’ve done upstairs to get these guys in our system. I can’t wait to see them. It’s going to be exciting times for us.”
As with any prospect, but especially with guys who just received their high school diplomas, time will tell. You hope the organization did a thorough background check and did everything in their power to learn about these guys, but giving a teenager millions of dollars always comes with big risks.