On Monday, Major League Baseball will begin the annual Rule 4 Amateur Draft. There is usually a great bit of buzz, especially around these parts, leading up to the draft but this year that isn’t the case. There are likely a few reasons for that, some obvious, others less so. In any case, here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming 2017 MLB Draft.
What is the MLB Draft?
The Major League Baseball Rule 4 Draft happens every year in June and is used to assign amateur baseball players in the United States and Puerto Rico from high schools, colleges, junior colleges and the like to MLB teams. Unlike the NBA (two rounds), NFL (six rounds), and NHL (seven rounds) drafts, the MLB draft happens midseason and goes 40 rounds, plus compensatory rounds for over 1200 picks.
How do I watch?
This year’s draft begins on Monday, June 12 at 5 p.m. MT at MLB Network Studios in Secaucus, New Jersey and includes Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A (Picks 1-36) and Round 2 and Competitive Balance Round B (Picks 37-75). The first round and the competitive balance round A will be on MLB Network, and all of Monday’s draft will be streamed on MLB.com.
Tuesday will include Rounds 3-10, while rounds 10-40 will be held on Wednesday. Again, you can follow all of this live on MLB.com or on Twitter @MLBDraft. If you want every pick dropped right into your Twitter feed, you can follow @MLBDraftTracker.
Where are the Rockies picking?
Picks are in reverse order of the previous year’s standings. The Twins finished with the worst record in baseball in 2016 so they have the first overall pick. Originally, the Rockies were scheduled to have the 11th overall pick after finishing 75-87, one game better than the Los Angeles Angels. When the Rockies signed Ian Desmond as a free agent, they sacrificed their first round pick at 11th overall for the privilege. Had they lost one more game in 2016, they would have had the 10th overall pick, which would have been protected. Such is life.
So they aren’t picking in the first round? Isn’t that bad?
Sort of. The odds are against any particular pick making it to the majors, even in the first round. For every Todd Helton (eighth overall, 61.1 career bWAR) there’s a Casey Weathers (eighth overall, never played in the majors), and for every Jeff Francis (ninth overall, 9.3 bWAR) there’s a few Kyle Parkers (26th overall, -1.6 bWAR).
Instead the Rockies first pick comes in the second round, at 48th overall. For rounds 3-40 they will pick 11th in each round. They also have a pick in Competitive Balance Round B, at 70th overall. But don’t worry: the Rockies have had a lot of success finding good players in later rounds.
What are Competitive Balance Rounds?
All teams that have either one of the 10 smallest markets or 10 smallest revenue pools receive an additional pick at the end of the first or second round. Six picks were assigned between the first and second rounds based on a formula that considers winning percentage and revenue. The remaining eligible teams receive a supplemental selection between the second and third rounds. Lottery picks may be traded.
The Rockies were drafted into CBR-B and will pick third in that round, or 70th overall. The assigned signing bonus for that pick is $837,300, which is part of their bonus pool.
Wait, Bonus Pools?
Teams are allowed to offer signing bonuses to players to entice them to sign with the team. In the past, there were no restrictions on who could spend what amount. This led to smaller market teams having to pass on more talented players in the early rounds who had high bonus demands. After the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, MLB instituted values to each pick through round 10, but allowed teams to go over on individual picks so long as they didn’t go over on their overall pool. 23 of 30 teams went over their bonus pool allotment last year and faced penalties.
This year the bonus pool structure went through some small changes due to the new CBA. Because they are one of just three teams without a first round pick, the Rockies have the smallest bonus pool to use on picks through the tenth round, just $4,615,700 (last year’s fourth overall pick Riley Pint received a bonus of $4.8 million). If they give their second round pick a $1 million bonus, for example, the team would have just over $3.6 million to give to their remaining ten picks. After that they have $125,000 per pick from rounds 11 to 40.
You just said “entice them to sign.” Do players really not sign after being drafted?
It happens more than you might think, but usually in later rounds. For example, in each of the past four years the Rockies have failed to sign almost all of their 40-50 round picks, usually high school players who chose to go to college rather than take a small bonus to go ride the busses in the minors. If a player drafted in, say, the first round and doesn’t sign, the team will get a make-up pick the following draft.
Can the Rockies trade up or down in the draft?
Negative, Ghostrider. In the past, owners tried to save money by trading away all their picks so they wouldn’t have to bring new amateurs onto the team’s ledger. Until recently, teams couldn’t even trade draft picks until they’d been on the team for a full season (which, if you recall, was why when the Rockies traded Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians, it was for a “player to be named later” that everyone knew was Drew Pomeranz).
Who will the Rockies pick?
Nobody knows! They don’t even know! The fact is when you’re picking this late, a lot of things can change—players rise and fall, teams pick players they weren’t expected to pick. We can theorize about different scenarios for the second round pick, and RockShow has even tried to predict who the Rockies might take in the first five rounds, but there’s just no real way of knowing ahead of time.
Looking at some recent history, the Rockies have favored power arms (Jon Gray, Ryan Castellani, JD Hammer) with a big fastball and a big breaking ball (preferably a slider). But, especially early on, expect them to go for the best available, regardless of position.
The Rockies financial situation may preclude them from selecting the high-upside prep type that they have gravitated to with their top pick the last two years. However, this doesn’t mean the Rockies can’t sign good high school players. They will have to do their homework to identify which guys are more likely to sign, but plenty of teams in the Rockies’ position have been able to sign talented prep players without going way over-slot to get it done.
Who is going first overall?
There is some debate about who will go first overall. Hunter Greene of Sherman Oaks, California has already been featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Brendan McKay of the University of Louisville has been excellent as well. There is debate about both players, whether teams should develop as a pitcher or a hitter (or both!). Then again, the Twins could surprise everyone and take a polished college arm in Vanderbilt’s righty, Kyle Wright.
Anything else interesting to note about this draft?
This draft is light on college bats at the top but there are a lot of guys falling based on the idea of a weak college hitter class. Although in the last week this has started to get corrected, there are still a ton of hitters in the college ranks who are being overlooked because of the “weak year for college hitters” label.
It will be interesting to see how far Seth Romero and Clarke Schmidt fall. Both have dropped steadily down lists as the draft has gotten closer. Romero’s drop is due to makeup reasons (he was kicked off his college team) and Schmidt’s is due to an injury that required Tommy John surgery. Both are arguably top-15 talents so how far they will fall should be an interesting storyline.
Where can I find good coverage during the draft?
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article mistakenly named Alex White as the player to be named later in the Ubaldo Jimenez deal when it was actually Drew Pomeranz.