Day Two of the 2018 MLB Draft is here, which means it’s time for Rounds 3 through 10, and it’s time to brush up on the rules of the draft if you forget them. Today’s the day when slots and bonus pools come most into focus.
A reminder: Teams are assigned a “pool” of dollars that they can use to sign players. The pool is based on the “slot” value of each of the team’s picks in the first 10 rounds (each pick in the Draft is given a certain value, and each of a team’s picks’ values are added up to determine the pool amount). You can sign the players for more or less than their individual slot value, but the total of your bonuses has to stay under the bonus pool amount, lest you incur penalties (picks after the 10th round have no slot value attached to them, but the amount of a bonus over $125,000 for a pick in those rounds does count against the pool).
Moreover, if a team fails to sign a player, the slot value from that pick is removed from the bonus pool. This is why you generally don’t see extremely-hard-to-sign hail marys taken in round three through five, and why you’ll see teams heavily taking college seniors in the 6 to 10 round range: the team can sign those players for $1,000 to $10,000, and “save” money to be applied elsewhere in the Draft.
The Cubs’ slot values and bonus pool:
- 1st Round (Pick 24): $2,724,000
- 2nd Round (Pick 62): $1,060,900
- Comp Pick 1 (Pick 77): $775,100
- Comp Pick 2 (Pick 78): 762,900
- 3rd Round (Pick 98): $570,600
- 4th Round (Pick 128): $426,100
- 5th Round (Pick 158): $317,600
- 6th Round (Pick 188): $245,600
- 7th Round (Pick 218): $192,500
- 8th Round (Pick 248): $159,100
- 9th Round (Pick 278): $145,100
- 10th Round (Pick 308): $ 137,600
Total Bonus Pool for the Cubs: $7,491,700 (20th highest in MLB; also, remember that the Cubs can exceed that figure by up to 5% without risking future draft pick loss penalties … so they will do that)
We can’t know for sure until signings start trickling in, but my gut read on yesterday’s picks is that the Cubs will save a few hundred thousand under slot on their first rounder, and maybe a similar amount under slot on their second compensatory pick. Much of those savings will probably go to signing the high school outfielders the Cubs took in the middle two picks.
Today, we’re gonna see the Cubs taking several true-to-slot types (i.e., guys who are simply prospects they like, and expected to sign for right around their slot value). We also may see them take a big swing or two on a falling high school prospect, and then some senior signs in the latter rounds to save some money against the pool.
You could always wait to select your risky high school types until after the 10th round (when failing to sign them doesn’t cost you that bonus pool money), but then you also take the chance that the guy you most want will already be gone. It’s still a draft, after all, and it’s not entirely about financial gamesmanship – sometimes, you just want a guy and you aren’t sure if he’ll still be on the board later.
Generally speaking, everyone the Cubs draft today will eventually sign and become a member of the farm system.
We’ll track today’s Cubs picks below when the draft gets going, which you can also follow along live right here:
Pick 98 – Jimmy Herron, CF, Duke. Hey, it’s another outfielder for the Cubs, and their second college bat. Herron is a speedy on-base guy, who put up good numbers in the Cape Cod league (always a plus because it means wood bat exposure), but he needs Tommy John surgery, per MLB Pipeline. In other words, this is a patience pick, and probably a guy who would have gone much higher if he were healthy. I like that kind of profile. Herron was ranked 165 at BA, and here’s a full write-up on him.
Pick 128 – Ethan Roberts, RHP, Tennessee Tech. Roberts is a 5’11”, 170 lb junior, and he does not show up on BA’s top 500. He pitched in relief this year, putting up silly numbers for a very good college team. The Cubs clearly must like him, either a convert to the rotation, or as a pure reliever (in which case they must really, really like him). You tend not to see huge slot savings on college juniors in this range, so I wouldn’t necessarily bank on that, but his profile doesn’t necessarily seem like that of a full-slot fourth rounder. Interestingly, he was just moved into the rotation to help keep the team’s season alive in the NCAA Tournament, and pitched well.
Pick 158 – Andy Weber, 2B, Virginia. An all-universe bat at Virginia, Weber hit .344/.415/.536 as a junior this year, with 22 BBs and 32 Ks in 209 ABs. Naturally, he was All-ACC. He didn’t put up numbers anywhere close to that in his first two years at the school, so maybe he’s a late-bloomer. He’s another unranked prospect at BA, which is something of a surprise given the numbers. If I had to guess, though, it’s going to be partly because of limited defensive ability (I know nothing of Weber, specifically, but it’s often the case that big-bat college second basemen are not considered premium defensive prospects). I wonder if there’s a slight under-slot ability here (slot is about $318,000), but mostly I think this is just a pick where the Cubs believe in the bat, and want to get some more quality bats in the system.
Pick 188 – Kohl Franklin, RHP, Oklahoma (HS). The Cubs have taken their first high school pitcher, and he’s not on BA’s top 500, so this is another deep scouting dive. The Cubs seem to have a high school pick like this every year in this round, and they tend to sign right around slot (and it was probably a prior discussion that gives them confidence enough to know they can get the youngster to sign. Franklin is currently committed to Oklahoma.
Pick 218 – D.J. Artis, CF, Liberty. Here, the Cubs take a bit of a swing on a college junior who slid. Artis is a smaller, speedy outfielder who hit very well in his first two years at Liberty, but took a step back this year. He has experience in the Cape Cod league, and will probably cost a bit above the $192,500 slot level to sign. It’s clear that the Cubs really wanted to reload in the outfield – rightly so – and are targeting athletic, fast guys in bulk. Artis generally ranks in the 150 range.
Among BA’s comments: “Artis is a no-doubt center fielder with plus speed, albeit fringy lefthanded arm strength. Scouts are more divided on Artis’ offensive approach. The small-framed, 5-foot-11, 195-pound lefthanded hitter crouches unusually low at the plate, shrinking his strike zone. He pairs the stance with a noticeably passive approach, which has been effective at the college level. He led the country with a program-record 62 walks last season and placed second nationally with a .532 on-base percentage. This spring, he’s slashed .305/.464/.489 through 190 at-bats. Despite his statistical track record, some evaluators are skeptical his approach will play at the next level. Artis has several moving parts in his swing, and his hit tool ranks over his mostly gap power.”
Pick 248 – Zach Mort, RHP, George Mason. The Cubs haven’t gone to senior signs just yet, as they take a junior here. Mort is yet another guy not on the BA Top 500 – think the Cubs maybe disagree with the third party services this year? – but was dominant this year (2.48 ERA, 108 Ks, 13(!) BBs over 105.0 innings and 15 starts). He had a down 2017 season after a nice freshman campaign as a reliever, so this is the Cubs taking a leap on a guy who appears not to have established himself on the national radar.
Pick 278 – Derek Casey, RHP, Virgina. Ah, there’s the senior sign. With the 278th pick in the draft, the Cubs have taken Virginia senior Derek Casey in the ninth round of the 2018 MLB Draft. Casey, like a surprising amount of the Cubs picks before him, isn’t on BA’s Top 500, but does come with a bit of an interesting history.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Cubs tried to draft Casey in either the third or fourth round back in 2014, offering as much a $900K to forego college and begin his professional career. However, he declined their offer (citing a desire to graduate college and get a degree (not a bad decision)), and they took Mark Zagunis (3rd) and Carson Sands (4th) instead. Despite his intentions of going to Virginia, the Cardinals actually did select Casey in the 22nd round, but he declined their offer and went to college. Unfortunately, Casey did undergo Tommy John surgery during his freshman season and missed all of 2016 because of it. But in 2017, he emerged as a weekend starter, earning a 3.79 ERA over 14 starts with 58 strikeouts to just 21 walks in 71 IP. And in 2018, he became their “Friday night ace,” working a 3.48 ERA over 95.2 IP, with 106 strikeouts (!) to just 25 walks.
He throws a fastball between 88-94 MPH, but also uses a slider, curveball, and change-up. As a polished college senior, with four pitches, Casey is a strong bet to make the Major Leagues in some capacity. “I think scouts know that he’s a very, very safe pick,” Cavalier’s pitching coach Karl Kuhn said. “He’s going to make them look good because he throws strikes. He’s going to manage the game. He’s a calming presence around some of the young, maybe high school, arms they’ll draft in their organization.”
— FOX Sports South (@FOXSportsSouth) May 25, 2018
Pick 308 – Luke Reynolds, 3B, University of Southern Mississippi
Reynolds was the 404th ranked prospect according to Baseball America, but he comes with a few notable exceptions, as well. Specifically, he’s already 23 years old, making him on the older side of players drafted this year, so he probably won’t cost very much to sign. But that doesn’t mean he’s not good. In fact, he won Conference USA player of the year honors this past season, and is considered a “disciplined hitter,” with raw power to all fields. He’s also a solid defender at third base and bats lefty (but throws righty). The Cubs should be able to save some money on Reynolds and use it on a high-upside pick in the later rounds (or one a tougher, early sign).