Boy, they said it was going to get crazy, right? In the final ten minutes before this year's draft pick signing deadline, we saw 13 of the top-15 picks in the draft sign, and 21 of the top-33. There were people sitting around their computers all day waiting for the news to trickle in (ahem), when realistically all you needed were those ten minutes before midnight and you could've covered pretty much all of the big headlines of the deadline.
And while MLBDD was there all day covering the signings, we're hoping to offer you some analysis now, as well as a neat place to keep all of our previous draft links. Well, here it is. I'm going to cover the surprises, the big winners, the disappointing losers, and [hopefully] everything else in between.
The Pirates: Yeah, duh. They added a premium talent by taking the player they perceived to be the best available in Gerrit Cole, and then forked up the dough to sign him. They proved a whole lot of people wrong by inking arguably the most difficult-to-sign elite talent in the draft, prep outfielder Josh Bell. And then to boot, they continued to bolsteir their minor league pitching ranks with a bevy of high-upside prep arms: Clay Holmes, Colten Brewer, Tyler Glasnow, Jake Burnette and Jason Creasy all signed with Pittsburgh rather than go to college next year. Overall, the Pirates spent an astounding $17 million on 24 players in this year's draft, but when you're able to add two elite talents and a host of other quality prospects, that price tag seems a whole lot less significant.
The Royals: Most people expected the Royals to get a deal done with first-round pick Bubba Starling, but it's the bevy of other picks that signed with Kansas City that should really push this class near the top. Prep pitchers Bryan Brickhouse and Kyle Smith both required over-slot money to sign (Brickhouse got $1.5 million), but they're high-upside guys and the Royals need as many lottery tickets as they can gather. It's a prep-heavy class, but the Royals just added some serious upside to their farm system. Another very good draft class for Dayton Moore and company.
The Nationals: When the Nationals selected Anthony Rendon, Alex Meyer, Brian Goodwin and Matt Purke with their first four picks, most people expected that at least one of them would fall through the cracks. After all, Purke was demanding huge money even after a rough season at TCU, Rendon was expecting to be paid like a top-3 pick even though he wasn't one, and both Goodwin and Meyer were expecting first-round money as well. But one thing we can't call the Nationals after today is cheap. Between those four players, the Nationals spent $13.75 million on signing bonuses, but in doing so, they just added four big-time prospects to their system.
The Red Sox: Boston doesn't boast one mega-elite guy like the preceding three teams on this list, but they have an exceptionally deep class this year with a variety of different player types. They added college pitching (Matt Barnes, Noe Ramirez), college hitting (Jackie Bradley Jr.), prep pitching (Henry Owens, Cody Kukuk), and a host of prep hitters (Blake Swihart, Williams Jerez, Jordan Weems). The Red Sox still don't have a knock-out prospect in their system right now given the struggles of players like Jose Iglesias, Drake Britton and Anthony Ranaudo, but if they continue to build up depth, a few guys will trickle to the top.
Some other drafts I liked: Milwaukee (needed pitching, got J. Bradley, Jungmann and J. Lopez), Chicago (lots of upside in Baez, Vogelbach, Dunston, Maples, Rosario), Tampa Bay (they actually signed everybody), Arizona (Bauer, Bradley, Meo, Chafin)
It's hard to label losers in this draft, because practically every team was willing to fork up and sign the players that they drafted. Teams that were unwilling to sign big-money players essentially shied away from them altogether, leaving numerous big-time money players to teams that were willing to sign them- that's how you ended up with organizations like Kansas City, Boston, Pittsburgh and Washington gathering up multiple top prospects in a single draft class. The Blue Jays are certainly disappointed that first-round pick Tyler Beede didn't sign, but they went out and spent a whole lot of money on some other very talented players, such as Daniel Norris, Dwight Smith Jr., Jacob Anderson, Kevin Comer and John Stilson. It's hard to call them losers with that kind of class.
I will give you guys a list of teams that I think should be underwhelmed with the kind of talent they're walking away from the draft with: Colorado, Texas, Cincinnati, Florida and the LA Dodgers.