First Rounders Yet to Sign

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The signing deadline for 2013 draft picks is coming up, and so far, 29 out of 33 players have completed deals. Most recently was the Padres first round pick, Hunter Renfroe of Mississippi State University. The remaining picks to sign are as follows:

University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant, who was chosen second overall by the Chicago Cubs. Sources indicate that Bryant and the Cubs have been “far apart in negotiations”, but the Cubs are “confident that they can get a deal done”. Bryant was Baseball America College Player of the Year and is also a finalist for the Golden Spikes award. It has been reported that Bryant’s camp wants more than the $6.7 Million that is recommended for the second overall pick, while the Cubs want Bryant to sign for slightly less than that amount, as they are over budget and could forfeit draft picks if they do overspend for Bryant. If the Cubs do not sign Bryant, he will likely finish his senior season at San Diego, and hope that he can raise his stock to the point where he is the number one pick in next year’s draft, much like Mark Appel did last year.

North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran was chosen with the sixth pick by the Miami Marlins. So far, nothing has come out of either camp. The Marlins have dealt with this situation before, when last year, Andrew Heaney of Oklahoma State waited until the final hour to sign with the team, despite rumors that he would not sign as the Marlins would not offer him a contract. One point worth noting is that the Marlins also have not signed top pick Matt Krook and have no plans to, potentially freeing up more money to sign Moran.

Oaks Christian High School pitcher Phil Bickfordwho was chosen tenth overall by the Toronto Blue Jays, is the sole remaining high schooler who has yet to sign. Bickford, who had signability concerns, is expected to command more than $3 million, which is more than the recommended slot for the tenth pick. Out of all the choices, he and Bryant seem the least likely to sign their deals.

Fresno State outfielder Aaron Judge was taken 32nd overall by the New York Yankees. Judge is expected to sign soon, and had no signability concerns when he was drafted, in fact, he did take batting practice with the team after he was drafted.

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Since 2008, when the “Draft and Follow” signing was eliminated, there has been at least one first round draft choice who ultimately did not sign, which led to compensation for the drafting team in the form of a draft pick. Here’s a rundown of those unsigned picks and where they ultimately went.

2008:

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Aaron Crow was chosen with the ninth pick in the 2008 draft by the Washington Nationals out of the University of Missouri. Crow elected not to sign, citing the infamous reason that the Nationals were a “Losing Organization”. He had exhausted his college eligibility, and ended up pitching for the Fort Worth Cats. A year later the Kansas City Royals chose him with the twelfth pick. He signed, and has since served as a valued bullpen arm and an emergency closer. He earned an All-star selection in 2011, although he didn’t pitch in the game.

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(The Nationals used their compensatory pick the following year on Drew Storen, who pitched for Stanford University. Storen now serves as the Nationals set up man.)

Gerrit Cole was taken by the New York Yankees with the 28th pick in the draft out of Orange Lutheran High School. He never had any intention to sign with the team, and ultimately went to pitch for UCLA, where he had a half-decent college career. Three years later, the Pirates took Cole with the first pick in the 2011 draft. He was promoted to the major leagues a little less than a month ago, and has contributed to the team’s ascension to the top of the NL Central standings.

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(The Yankees used their compensatory pick the following year on Slade Heathcott, an outfielder from Texas High School in Texarkana. Heathcott is currently playing for the AA Trenton Thunder.)

2009:

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Matt Purke was a high school arm in Texas who drew rave reviews and was considered to be a potential first round pick. The Texas Rangers chose him with the 14th pick in the draft. He didn’t sign, and opted to pitch for the Texas Christian University baseball team. After two seasons, Purke’s stock fell, as he was injured his sophomore season. The Washington Nationals took him with their third round pick, where he signed. He’s currently pitching in Double-A after missing most of last year due to injury.

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(The Rangers used their compensatory pick on Jake Skole, an outfielder from Blessed Trinity High School in Roswell, Georgia. Skole, who has struggled since being drafted, is currently on the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in Single-A)

LeVon Washington was a highly touted outfield prospect from Buchholz High School in Gainesville, Florida. He was chosen by the Tampa Bay Rays with the 30th pick in the draft. He elected not to sign, and ultimately went to Chipola College, a Juco team from Marianna, Florida. Washington was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the second round the following year. He currently plays for the Lake County Captains in the Midwest league.

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(The Rays used their compensatory pick on Justin O’Conner, a catcher from Cowan High School, in Cowan Indiana. O’Connor currently plays for the Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Midwest league.)

James Paxton was a supplemental pick by the Toronto Blue Jays out of the University of Kentucky. The Canadian chose not to sign, and because he was ineligible to return to the Wildcats, pitched for the Grand Prairie Airhogs of the American Association. The following year, the Seattle Mariners took Paxton with their fourth round draft choice. Paxton has managed to climb onto the top prospect list, and currently pitches for the AAA Tacoma Rainiers.

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(The Blue Jays used the compensation pick for Paxton on Noah Syndergaard, a pitcher for Legacy High School in Texas. Syndergaard was traded to the Mets following the 2012 season and currently pitches for the AA Binghamton Mets. He will be pitching in the Futures game on July 14th.)

2010:

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Barret Loux was the sixth pick in the 2010 mlb draft, chosen by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Loux, a senior from Texas A&M, was not offered a contract after he failed a physical. After being declared a free agent, he signed with his home state Texas Rangers. Loux was later traded to the Chicago Cubs as a player to be named later in the Geovany Soto trade. He is currently pitching for the Iowa Cubs in AAA. Incidentally, the pick after Loux was North Carolina pitcher Matt Harvey.

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(The Diamondbacks used their compensatory selection on Broken Arrow High School pitcher Archie Bradley, who is currently pitching for the AA Mobile BayBears.)

Karsten Whitson was taken out of Chipley High School, in Florida by the San Diego Padres with the ninth pick in the draft. Whitson declined his offer and went to pitch for the Florida Gators, where he’s had a solid college career. However, after an injury plagued 2013, Whitson’s stock fell, and he was chosen in the 37th round by the Washington Nationals. It is unlikely that he will sign, as he will want to raise his stock so that he can be a first round pick in 2014.

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(The Padres used their compensatory selection the following year on Indian River State College third baseman Cory Spangenberg. He is currently playing for the AA San Antonio Missions.)

Dylan Covey was taken with the 14th pick our of Maranatha High School in California by the Milwaukee Brewers. He did not sign after tests revealed that he was suffering from Type 1 diabetes. Covey spent the next three seasons at the University of San Diego where he took control of his medical condition. Covey was drafted this year by the Oakland A’s in the fifth round. He signed a contract and is currently pitching in short season ball.

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(The following year, the Milwaukee Brewers selected Georgia Tech left hander Jed Bradley. Bradley is currently pitching for the A level Brevard County Manatees)

2011:

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We already covered Tyler Beede,  who currently pitches for Vanderbilt and is likely a top pick in next year’s draft.

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(The Blue Jays used their compensatory pick on Duke reliever Marcus Stroman, who, despite a suspension for PED’s, is now pitching for the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats.)

Brett Austin, a catcher from Providence High School in North Carolina, was chosen by the San Diego Padres in the supplemental round of the draft. Austin didn’t sign and is currently a catcher for the North Carolina State University team. He is a projected top prospect for the 2014 draft. With the team drafting Austin Hedges in the second round, it’s unlikely that they miss Austin that much though.

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(The Padres selected Walker Weickel out of Olympia High School in Florida as compensation for losing Austin the following year. Weickel, a pitcher, currently plays for the Fort Wayne TinCaps in the Midwest league.)

2012: 

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Mark Appel was chosen by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 8th pick in the 2012 draft. He didn’t sign with the team, spent one more year at Stanford, and was chosen last month by the Houston Astros with the first overall pick.

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(The Pirates chose Grayson High School outfielder Austin Meadows as compensation for Appel with the ninth pick in the draft. Meadows, who signed his contract last month, is currently playing for the Gulf Coast League Pirates.)

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How many first rounders do you think will sign? Will this be the first year since 2007 where all the first round picks are signed?

5 comments

  1. Steven Inman

    Biggest surprise to me is Bickford who wasn’t even a first round guy by most goes 8th overall. I know KC isn’t giving him 8th overall money slot but he has to be the biggest surprise not to have signed yet right? Oh and keep up the good work really like the site. -Steven

    • alexgiobbi

      First, thanks for the vote of confidence, really appreciate it. Second, I honestly think that the biggest surprise non-sign is Aaron Judge. He seemed pretty happy to be picked by the Yankees, plus, his facebook indicates that he really wants to be a Yankee. It wouldn’t surprise me that much if Bickford opts to pitch for Fullerton, if he does, he could raise his stock to be a number 1 pick in three years. Plus, given Toronto’s recent history with certain arms (Paxton, Beede), a third deserter would indicate that the Blue Jays really need to alter their draft strategy.

      • Steven Inman

        Ditching the Blue Jays looks to be working out nicely for Paxton and Beede who could go in the top 5 next year. If Im Bickford I don’t see how I don’t take the money if they did in fact offer him slot.

      • alexgiobbi

        Toronto either deliberately chooses players they know that they can’t sign so that they can get the extra pick, or players just don’t want to pitch in the great white north.

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