Sunday, August 14, 2011

The deadline approaches: Be afraid, very afraid

OK, right after the draft my analysis said that the Indians had gone cheap after the first two rounds with their best next prospect being 20th rounder Dillon Peters, who has been listed as a 5’9” about 200 pound HS LHP from the cold weather state of Indiana.  Basically, the Indians drafted mostly lesser talents who should sign for at or below slot money.  They did not set themselves up, as they did in 2010, to sign later picks because, frankly, they didn't draft any highly ranked guys in later rounds, guys who fell for some reason at draft time.
About a week ago I said that it was looking like the Indians were starting to overpay for lower round picks who really didn’t have the talent to justify the overslot bonuses.  I said how stupid that move was, throwing good money after bad in a panic after realizing that you might not get enough from a draft that THEY constructed to be cheap and relatively devoid of top 5 round talent.  I mentioned that they did a similar thing in 2001 when they realized they couldn’t sign Alan Horne and divided his bonus between middling HS pitching prospects TJ Burton, Martin Vergara, and Jimmy Schultz.  Those guys were 10th – 12th round talents and were signed for 2nd-4th round money.  Burton made it the furthest, eventually reaching AA. Now, as we approach the draft deadline on Monday, the Indians, 10 years later, are repeating the mistake of 2001.
Now, just 2 days from the signing deadline, more evidence is surfacing that the Indians are overpaying for lesser talents in this draft.  Here is what they have done now.
Eric Hasse 7th round - $650,000.  The kid was ranked 174th in the country by PG Crosschecker, not even in the top 200 by Baseball America.  His scholarship offer was to lowly Ohio State.  It's not like he was a top prospect.  Yet he commanded 2nd round money!  He should have, based on his talent, gotten 6th round money, or no more that $200,000. 
Shawn Morimando – 19th round: $350,000 – Morimando was not highly ranked.  By PG Crosschecker he was the 247th best prospect.  He was not ranked in the top 200 by Baseball America  His PG ranking would make him about an 8th round talent.  The slot for the 8th round is $150,000 so we paid him more than double slot, basically giving the guy late 3rd round money.   He is a 5’11” lefty who pitches around 87 mph with his fastball (clocked as high as 91 when he airs it out) and he has very good control.  Not exactly 3rd round material on paper or in ranking, more like a 10th rounder, similar to Clayton Cook.  10th rounders max out in bonus around $150,000 unless they are highly ranked guys who just fell at draft time.
Even guys like Zach McPhee ($150,000), Geoff Davenport ($100,000), Ryan Merritt ($150,000), while they are not overslot signings, per se, were not very highly rated AT ALL at draft time and signed at ($150K) or near the maximum you should pay, within the slotting system, for a pick after the 7th round.  Thus, we even pushed the envelope to sign those guys, spending more money than they are probably worth.
In summary, the Indians made one of the classic mistakes in drafting: they didn’t construct their draft to be filled with quality prospects and yet spent as if they did.  THAT is how you end up with a bad farm system and with a bad taste in ownership's mouth about wasting money on the draft.
We have to keep signing these guys.  Some of them may pan out so signing is better than not signing, which assumes we have no better use for the money, which, in turn, assumes that we are done in Latin America, which I hope we aren't.  However, if you are following at home, this is NOT the way to run a draft.
Now, on to signing Lindor, Howard, Tarpley and Peters.  Maybe the talent of the first two and the statistical chance that a few of the overdrafted, overpaid guys in this draft will pan out, may yet make this a good draft down the road, albeit one that is not worth the money that was spent on it.

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