Cubs Sign 4th Round Pick Tyler Skulina Well Over Slot, Maybe Probably Lose Daniel Poncedeleon

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.

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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