contractAnother top draft pick is in the fold, and it’s another one for which we actually have some bonus information.

Fourth round pick Tyler Skulina was a big-time starting pitching prospect at Kent State who was expected to go in the second or third rounds, but slid to the Cubs. The Cubs must have been thrilled, because they just signed Skulina to an $800,000 bonus, per BA’s Jim Callis, which is the amount slotted for picks at the very end of the second round. The bonus is also about $323,000 over the slot value for where Skulina was actually picked.

Callis describes Skulina as “A 6-foot-6, 225-pounder, he has a 91-96 mph fastball with tailing action and maintains his velocity into the late innings. His 80-84 mph slider is his second-best pitch, and he also uses a curveball and changeup. If he improves his control and command, he could be a No. 2 starter.” That’s a fantastic scouting report for a guy the Cubs got in the fourth round, and you can see why they were willing to pay handsomely to get him in the fold.

With 9th round pick Charcer Burks getting $21,000 over slot, and 12th round pick Trevor Clifton reportedly receiving a bonus that will include an estimated $450,000 or so that counts against the draft pool, the Cubs are already some $800,000 in the red.

The Cubs’ total bonus pool for 2013 is $10,556,500, and they can exceed it by up to 5% without surrendering a future draft pick. That means they can go over by about $525,000 and suffer no serious penalties (just a tax). As you can see, they’re already in the danger zone.

That tells me a few things: (1) The Cubs expect to save/have already saved money on other top 10 picks (best guess is that they’ve already agreed to under slot deals with second round pick Rob Zastryzny and third round pick Jacob Hannemann); (2) the Cubs anticipate being able to sign first round pick Kris Bryant for something under slot; and (3) the Cubs have no doubt that they will sign Bryant.

That last one requires a little explanation. When a team fails to sign a player in the top 10 rounds, they lose the slot money associated with the pick from their bonus pool. Moreover, that 5% the team can go over? Well, it’s based on the actual, final pool. If the Cubs failed to sign Bryant, their draft pool would fall all the way to about $3.85 million, and the amount they could go over without forfeiting a future first rounder would be just $190,000 or so. That could lead to some problems if you’ve already made some healthy over slot deals.

Thus, I read this as the organization being fairly confident about their ability to sign Bryant – and probably a bit under slot, too.

On a related but separate note, one of the pitchers the Cubs were believed to have signed is now, like, not signed. Well-regarded 14th round college righty Daniel Poncedeleon had tweeted that he had signed with the Cubs (complete with a picture) last week. But that tweet has now vanished, and Kendall Rogers reports that Poncedeleon, a junior, is headed back to Houston. Poncedeleon’s Twitter stream seems consistent with that report.

So, um, what up?

It seems pretty clear that he did sign a deal with the Cubs, though it was likely contingent on a physical. Did that scuttle things? Did some other contingency kick in? Was he allowed a little time to back out? Were the Cubs?

I’m not sure we’re going to get answers to these questions now that Poncedeleon is headed back to school. Because he was a post-10th round pick, there are no bonus pool implications to him not signing (unless his deal was going to be for more than $100,000, in which case the Cubs might have more money to play around with that they’d earmarked for an over slot Poncedeleon signing). It’s a bummer, though, as the big righty was thought to be a much better talent than your typical 14th rounder.

  • Dwhit33

    Some other Minor league news, according to Baseball America, the Cubs released Chad Martin, Hunter Ackerman, and Dong-Yub Kim

    • JJ

      Martin was a 10th rd pick just last year, wonder what he happened in Arizona for team to drop him. A reminder to calm any hype about the Cubs 10-20 picks this year.

      • Luke

        Last year’s picks between 7 and 10 tended to be low ceiling college seniors who would sign for very cheap. I wouldn’t read anything into the draft slot on this one.

  • SenorGato

    Skulina sounds like a guy who might become Scott Feldman one day. Maybe I am just missing something on him. OTOH, Feldman isn’t exactly a bad outcome for a 4th round pick.

    • Andrew

      Scott Feldman wouldn’t be a bad outcome for just about any pick that isnt in the top ten overall.

      • SenorGato


  • Colocubfan

    This slot stuff stinks! (Just sayin’)

  • SenorGato

    Things I’m bored of hearing and annoyed at knowing it’s a necessary evil in prospect world:

    – Grab a handful of pitching prospects and at least a couple will be said to be a “potential #2 starter”

    – Grab a handful of position prospects and a couple will be a potential 70zzzz guy in some tool.

    There’s probably plenty more, but these two really stick out to me in the new decade of prospecting.

    Also a draft profile I notice this FO has avoided fairly often (unless Hoyer was behind the Donovan Tate pick) is the “extremely athletic HS OFer with some swing and miss issues.” I can’t think of a guy who fits this category in his amateur scouting reports that this FO has picked up. Good thing too since it’s usually expensive to go with risky.

  • North Side Irish

    Jason Parks ‏@ProfessorParks 15m
    @CubsDen @harrypav Just looking at the rough draft of our Mid-season Top 50, Almora, Baez and Soler in the top 20. That’s impact talent.

    • SenorGato

      Also said he would make the case that the Cubs are a top 3 system. Not a hard case to make honestly.

  • gocatsgo2003

    I’m probably just missing it here, but did Skulina really have that much leverage in negotiations that he got 2nd-round money as a 4th-round pick? Sure he could have returned to college for his senior year, but that could just as soon mean a blown-out elbow as a repeat performance and higher draft slot.

    • Brett

      That’s most of the leverage right there, especially once he fell out of the top 2/3 rounds. Also possible that the Cubs had already told him how much they valued him, and other teams were scared off from drafting him because they knew the Cubs wanted him the most – in other words, the Cubs may have “bought” him falling in the draft in the first place because they were willing to pay, for example, $800,000.

      • gocatsgo2003

        The “but I could go back to school” angle doesn’t feel sufficient to nearly double his assigned slot value while your second theory feels more plausible to me; Skulina or his agent could very well have circulated a number that would keep him from returning to school and the Cubs decided he was worth it at that point.

        • wvcubsfan


          I feel like the AFLAC duck listening to Yogi Berra after reading that response.

          • gocatsgo2003

            HA. Sorry — (i) Skulina threatening to go back to school doesn’t seem to have enough weight to get almost double his slot allocation and (ii) Brett’s theory about either the Cubs or Skulina setting a number at which he would sign is more likely.

            • wvcubsfan

              Right but they are still the same thing. Here’s the number I’ll sign for regardless of round or I’m going back to school. It’s not an idle threat if you 100% intend to return to school if you don’t get x number of dollars.

              • gocatsgo2003

                Also a good point — didn’t mean to imply that one scenario would/could/should preclude the other.

                • wvcubsfan

                  They give you cash; which is just as good as money.

                  So if you’re hurt and miss work; it doesn’t hurt to miss work.

        • King Jeff

          That probably also explains why he slipped to where he did. If he didn’t get the bonus he wanted, he was going back to school. Seems that every team in baseball was aware of this, and that lead to him slipping as far as he did.

  • ozzzie19

    The likely scenario is that the Cubs and other teams had discussions with him, understanding his signing demands (ie 2nd round $) and it was his demands that lead him to drop down the draft (ie he wasn’t at the top of anyone’s board while they were picking in the 2nd round/he was, but that team wanted to select a player to sign under slot and save $). And in the 3rd round he likely was at the top of some boards talent-wise, but no one was interested in paying him over slot. So signing him for double his slot is (true, but) really a misnomer, because he was picked later than his talent alone would have indicated.

    The same scenario goes into the Cubs 5th round pick in Masek (who BA ranked higher than Skulina). We’ll likely see some significant underslot signings finalized (likely rounds 1-3) before we see another big overslot

  • Rudy

    Someone on PSD is reporting Bryant has signed for 5.6 mil. Would be awesome if true!

    • Rudy

      Now others with seemingly ‘reliable’ sources are chimming in saying its a done deal, (pending physical). The number hasn’t been confirmed yet though.

    • ssckelley

      This would not surprise me one bit, and that dollar amount could have been locked in when the Cubs were on the clock. But one thing everyone seems confident about is that Bryant is signed and is taking a break before getting his physical done. Those sources seem a tad better than the one that says he signed for 5.6 million, that could be a number thrown out there since it is in between what Appel and Gray signed for.

      • Jp3

        I’m fine with him taking a break before he begins his long career, hope it’s not because he’s feeling fatigued though. He was playing baseball in San Diego, it’s a far cry from playing in Chicago in the middle April or September. Get the great weather and waves while you can dude.

  • North Side Irish

    Rob Zastryzny ‏@RobZastryzny_8 33s
    Officially part of the Chicago Cubs organization. Thanks for all the support and I can’t wait to start the journey. #Cubs

    • King Jeff

      Just saw that. Since you seem to be the breaking news guy, any word on these rumors I’m seeing about Bryant getting ready to sign for 5.6 mill?

      • Jp3

        That would make my week… Can’t wait to start obsessing over Arizona SS games😀

    • Brett

      You beat me again.

      Just the way I like it. Well done.

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Eric Young Jr. DFA by Rockies would be a nice addition to Cub bench, switch hitter with speed who can play IF & OF. Still only 27 years old and can steal a base or two.

  • BleedingCubbieBlue

    So if Bryant signed for say 5.6 mil, is there any chance we signponcedeleon? I just love his name.

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