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Everything you need to know about the 2018 MLB Draft

The 2018 draft is mere days away, here is a primer on everything you need to know about the upcoming draft.

MLB First Year Player Draft Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

It is the most wonderful time of the year (well, one of them) and that means the Major League Baseball draft is upon us. It is that time of the year when baseball diehards furiously go over their own personal rankings, shout at national writers about why they are right/wrong, and eagerly await the picks as they roll out.

For others (and dare I say most), it is the time when you start to learn about the top players in the draft, where your favorite team(s) are picking, and beginning to look to the future a bit. This particular is certainly geared towards the latter group, but should be a useful quick resource or the former as well.

This is a quick primer on all things 2018 MLB draft. Below you will find info on what players are actually eligible to be drafted, the draft order for the first few rounds, bonus pools, and some helpful links to let you dig deeper. Lets get to it.

The Basics

The First Year Player draft is held in June each year (this year it will begin Monday, June 4th, 2018 and run through June 6th) and consists of three classes of players

  • High school players that have graduated but have yet to go to any form of college
  • College players that have finished at least their junior year of college and/or are 21 years old
  • Junior college players (no restrictions on how long they have been enrolled or how old)

The vast majority of the earlier picks come from the first two groups as they are the most high profile and visible players. Notably, Bryce Harper was a 1st overall pick from a junior college, but that had more to do with him gaming the system a bit by getting his GED early and then enrolling at the College of Southern Nevada so he could go pro faster.

There are a ton of resources available to find out information about the specific draft prospects in a given draft, but there are actually very few writers that go out and watch any meaningful sample of amateur players before the draft. The consensus amongst them seems to be that Auburn RHP Casey Mize is the top prospect in the draft and a pretty overwhelming favorite to go 1st overall to the Tigers with other top prospects including Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart, Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm, high school LHP Matthew Liberatore, Oregon State infielder Nick Madrigal, and Florida RHP Brady Singer among others. Here are some good resources to find out information about lots of different draft prospects with rankings and whatnot.

Baseball America’s Top 500 2018 MLB Draft Prospects

Fangraphs’ THE BOARD Draft Rankings (with reports)

MLB Pipeline’s Top 200 Draft Prospects

The Draft Order and Bonus Pools

There is no lottery for draft picks like in the NBA. The pick order is determined (largely) by each team’s record the previous season. The Detroit Tigers have the first overall pick in this year’s draft because they had the worst record last year and so on and so on. This can be changed if a team fails to sign a player drafted in the first 3 rounds of the draft. In that case, they are given a pick one pick later than the pick they failed to sign (An example: if the Atlanta Braves drafted someone with the 8th overall pick this year, but could not get that player to sign a deal, they would be given the 9th overall pick in next year’s draft).

Each draft pick is assigned a slot value, which really only matters when calculating a team’s total bonus pool and as a tentative guide for how much one can usually expect a given draft pick to sign for. When you add up all of those slot values, you get a team’s bonus pool...this is the magic amount of money that a team cannot exceed (too much) in terms of spending in the draft. If a team overspends its pool, penalties range from being taxed on the overage for minor violations to losing future draft picks in the case of major violations. Lots of teams go a bit over (less than 5%) all the time and just pay the tax. However, no team has gone over enough to lose draft picks under these rules.

The Kansas City Royals have this year’s largest bonus pool at $12,781,900 followed by the Rays ($12,415,600) and then the Tigers ($12,414,800). Yes, it does not make intuitive sense that the team with the highest pick (the Tigers) to have only the third highest bonus pool, but this number is goosed a bit by the presence of competitive balance and compensation picks.

In between the 1st and 2nd round as well as the 2nd and 3rd round of the draft is where teams that have been awarded competitive balance picks (which are awarded to small market/low revenue teams) and compensation picks (picks given to teams that lose players to free agency after giving them a qualifying offer). Those picks have slot values, too. The Royals lost some players to free agency, so their compensation picks combined with them receiving a competitive balance pick gave them the highest bonus pool. Here is a link to the total bonus pools for each team, although this is a slightly older link and the San Diego Padres and Minnesota Twins pools are slightly higher and lower respectively due to the Twins trading one of their competitive balance picks (which are the only kinds of picks that CAN be traded) to San Diego recently.

MLB Bonus Pools and Slot Values

Make sense to you? Yeah, me either...but lets move on to the draft order.

Below is the draft order for the first couple of rounds of the 2018 draft, so feel free to control+F your team to find out the important info about your squad. This list also includes the slot values for each pick. From the third round on, the draft order is set based solely on 2017 team records without any weird subset categories of picks...with one notable exception in the 3rd round. The Atlanta Braves lost their 3rd round pick due to violations from last year’s draft after an investigation from MLB, but the rest of their picks are unaffected. Here is the 2018 MLB draft order:

First Round

1 Detroit Tigers - Slot value: $8,096,300

2 San Francisco Giants - Slot value: $7,494,600

3 Philadelphia Phillies - Slot value: $6,947,500

4 Chicago White Sox - Slot value: $6,411,400

5 Cincinnati Reds - Slot value: $5,946,400

6 New York Mets - Slot value: $5,525,200

7 San Diego Padres - Slot value: $5,226,500

8 Atlanta Braves - Slot value: $4,980,700

9 Oakland Athletics - Slot value: $4,761,500

10 Pittsburgh Pirates - Slot value: $4,560,200

11 Baltimore Orioles - Slot value: $4,375,100

12 Toronto Blue Jays - Slot value: $4,200,900

13 Miami Marlins - Slot value: $4,038,200

14 Seattle Mariners - Slot value: $3,883,300

15 Texas Rangers - Slot value: $3,738,500

16 Tampa Bay Rays - Slot value: $3,603,500

17 Los Angeles Angels - Slot value: $3,472,900

18 Kansas City Royals - Slot value: $3,349,300

19 St. Louis Cardinals - Slot value: $3,231,700

20 Minnesota Twins - Slot value: $3,120,000

21 Milwaukee Brewers - Slot value: $3,013,600

22 Colorado Rockies - Slot value: $2,912,300

23 New York Yankees - Slot value: $2,815,900

24 Chicago Cubs - Slot value: $2,724,000

25 Arizona Diamondbacks - Slot value: $2,636,400

26 Boston Red Sox - Slot value: $2,552,800

27 Washington Nationals - Slot value: $2,472,700

28 Houston Astros - Slot value: $2,399,400

29 Cleveland Indians - Slot value: $2,332,700

30 Los Angeles Dodgers - Slot value: $2,275,800

Compensation picks

31 Tampa Bay Rays - $2,224,400

32 Tampa Bay Rays - $2,171,700

33 Kansas City Royals - $2,118,700

34 Kansas City Royals - $2,066,700

35 Cleveland Indians - $2,016,400

Competitive Balance Round A

36 Pittsburgh Pirates - $1,967,900

37 Baltimore Orioles - $1,923,500

38 San Diego Padres - $1,878,300

39 Arizona Diamondbacks - $1,834,500

40 Kansas City Royals - $1,786,300

41 Cleveland Indians - $1,744,800

42 Colorado Rockies - $1,704,000

43 St. Louis Cardinals - $1,664,200

Second Round

44 Detroit Tigers - $1,625,500

45 San Francisco Giants - $1,587,600

46 Chicago White Sox - $1,556,100

47 Cincinnati Reds - $1,520,300

48 New York Mets - $1,485,100

49 Atlanta Braves - $1,450,500

50 Oakland Athletics - $1,414,200

51 Pittsburgh Pirates - $1,382,400

52 Toronto Blue Jays - $1,350,000

53 Miami Marlins - $1,318,500

54 Seattle Mariners - $1,287,800

55 Texas Rangers - $1,257,500

56 Tampa Bay Rays - $1,228,000

57 Los Angeles Angels - $1,196,500

58 Kansas City Royals - $1,168,300

59 Minnesota Twins - $1,140,600

60 Milwaukee Brewers - $1,113,500

61 New York Yankees - $1,086,900

62 Chicago Cubs - $1,060,900

63 Arizona Diamondbacks - $1,035,500

64 Boston Red Sox - $1,010,500

65 Washington Nationals - $986,200

66 Houston Astros - $965,300

67 Cleveland Indians - $939,700

68 Los Angeles Dodgers - $917,000

Competitive Balance Round B

69 Miami Marlins - $894,600

70 Oakland Athletics - $872,400

71 Tampa Bay Rays - $850,700

72 Cincinnati Reds - $837,700

73 Milwaukee Brewers - $824,900

74 San Diego Padres - $812,200

Compensation picks

75 St. Louis Cardinals - $799,600

76 Colorado Rockies - $787,200

77 Chicago Cubs - $775,100

78 Chicago Cubs - $762,900

The draft begins Monday evening and is going to be a whirlwind of speculation and information. We will be providing in-depth coverage of the draft throughout the process so make sure you keep an eye on the site as we will have more coverage previewing the draft up until draft time plus profiles on all the players picked in the first round and the comp and balance picks after the 1st round in addition to pick grades and useful info throughout the draft. Stay tuned, guys and gals...this is going to be fun.