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July 12, 2007

Draft Update: Rounds 1-5

1. Blake Beavan (RHP, high school)

Unsigned. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News explained the Beavan issue in detail yesterday. The operative phrase for 2007 and the future is “slot money.? Major League Baseball has recommended signing bonuses for several years, but more recently the league office has increased its oversight.

First, a team must “consult? with the commissioner’s office when it wants to sign a player for an above-slot bonus. The consultation involves Bud Selig doing a really terrible Vito Corleone impersonation, so teams avoid it if at all possible and are toeing the line thus far.

Second, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement has shortened the negotiation period for draft picks and improved compensation for unsigned picks. The changes were effected to give teams more leverage, and so far they have. Bonuses for signed first rounders are down 10% or more from 2006.

Understandably, some players and their representatives are peeved at the new math. As noted by Grant, Beavan is asking for a bit over $1.5 million from a slot valued at $1.4 million. He’s been deemed a middle first-rounder since February, so there’s no issue of deserving top ten money.

The signing deadline is five weeks from today, and only 13 of the top 30 have signed. I won’t worry about Beavan until we’re into August.

1. Michael Main (RHP, high school)

Signed and batting .217/.269/.261 for rookie-league Arizona. He’s expected to take the mound within a couple of weeks.

1a. Julio Borbon (OF, college junior)

Unsigned. No news, no rumors, no nothing. Borbon can return to Tennessee for his senior year, but everything I’ve read about him suggests he’s ready to turn pro. He’s a Scott Boras client.

1a. Neil Ramirez (RHP, high school)

Unsigned. Ramirez entered the season considered a potential first rounder and was ranked 25th on Baseball America’s prospect list. A minor back injury and inconsistent performance dropped him to 44th on draft day. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus claimed Ramirez is asking for above-slot money. I don’t know what Ramirez is seeking, but the difference between his position and the bottom of the first round is $300,000-$400,000. He’s committed to Georgia Tech.

1a. Tommy Hunter
(RHP, college sophomore)

Unsigned. According to the Indianapolis Star, Hunter has avoided the college summer league but has been throwing to stay in shape. On the record, he is utterly noncommittal about his destination. "It's a waiting process to see when everything gets done but I'm pretty sure it will work out. I'm waiting to see what everybody says, take all the advice in that I can and, after that, I'm going to make a decision."

Alabama coach Jim Wells recently retired, but Hunter says that won’t impact his decision.

UPDATE: Wells changed his mind and returned to Alabama.

2. Matt West (SS/3B, high school)

Signed and batting .345/.457/.483 in eight games for Arizona.

3. Evan Reed (RHP, college junior)

Signed last week and appearing on Spokane’s roster as of today.

4. Garrett Nash
(SS, high school)

Unsigned. According to the Portland (OR) Tribune, Nash will enroll at Oregon State. Nash: “I just told [Texas], ‘I’m not going to sign. I’m going to go to school.’ After talking to my dad and thinking about what’s best for my future, I decided going to Oregon State would be the best thing for me. I’ll get better coaching than I would in Rookie League ball, and it’s a great program, something I want to be a part of. I want to start my college education and develop as a player.?

5. John Gast (LHP, high school)

Unsigned. Baseball America considered Gast no worse than a third rounder until he underwent Tommy John surgery in May. Florida State coach Mike Martin, who already has lost Michael Main to Texas, expects Gast to enter college. “I would be very surprised if he signs [with Texas]. With the potential he has, he would be leaving millions of dollars on the table.? Slot money is about $135,000, compared to $250,000-$300,000 for a third rounder.

Posted by Lucas at July 12, 2007 08:45 AM