From Draft to Dash
The MLB First-Year Player Draft is an interesting entity. The sheer quantity of players taken and lack of immediate impact on the major league level makes it difficult for fans to become invested in an organization’s picks once they are drafted. Where the majority of players do have an impact is at the minor league level. The 2012 draft currently in progress is the first one affected by rule changes that could expedite the path of players drafted through the lower levels of the minor leagues and potentially allow 2012 draft picks to spend time with the Dash this season.
Signing Deadline Moved Up-From 2007 through last year, the deadline to sign draft picks was August 15, two-and-a-half months after the draft and at essentially at the end of the minor league season. A draftee who waited until the deadline to sign most times did not even play that year. That was the situation for the fourth overall pick in 2011 Dylan Bundy, who we spoke to last week. The deadline is now July 13, around one month after the draft and with plenty of time left in the minor league season.
Last year all of the White Sox top seven draft picks had signed by July 20. However, they avoided taking any high school players. This year the White Sox top two picks are both high school players. Even if they sign, the high school players will not be with the Dash this season but early round college players certainly might end up in Winston-Salem by the end of the year.
Current Dash infielder Marcus Semien was drafted in the sixth round last season and signed on June 30. He played in 60 games last season for Kannapolis. The rookie ball teams and Kannapolis are the likely destinations for players in their first seasons, but a successful run could make for a late call up to the Dash.
Draft Bonus Penalties-The 2012 draft is the first that features excessive penalties for teams that overspend on signing bonuses. Each team is allotted a set amount of money to sign picks in the first 10 rounds of the draft. Team that overspend or fail to sign a pick are hit with restrictions, including fines and loss of future first round picks.
This had led to some teams shying away from risky selections in the early rounds. The White Sox drafted 14 players on day two, with 10 of the picks coming from the college ranks. The Sporting News article laid out this potential trend:
“Individual player signability is also likely to be a heightened factor on many team draft boards, a marked change after many years in which the league’s slot recommendations were widely ignored.”
So how does this affect the Dash? More college players mean older guys whose skill sets enable them to move through the organizational ranks quicker. The penalty for not signing early round draft picks ensures a team has done its homework on guys who are likely to sign early. This gets them onto the field sooner and potentially onto the Dash by year’s end.
Chris Sale set the model of the Draft-to-Dash-in-the-same-season process, signing on June 22, 2010, and pitching in Winston-Salem 10 days later. Sale did not have the typical minor league experience, but he did illustrate the road from the draft to impacting the minor leagues in the same season.
The 2012 draft concludes today. Within the next couple of months we will see who could be on the Dash by year’s end.