So we can't officially close the book on the 2016 Cleveland Indians amateur draft just yet. We have two weeks to go until the official deadline to sign players. However, today's signing of Nolan Jones for a reported $2.25 million basically, for all practical purposes, closes the book on this year's draft.
I have the Indians, with their picks in the first 10 rounds being over by $10,000 from the maximum they can spend and not lose their first round pick next year. Obviously (or I am hoping that it is obvious) my numbers are off. Other sources, including today's signing, have us at anywhere from $10,000 over our budget to about $48,000 under our budget, not counting if we sign Calica.
Also, remember that the bonuses that have been reported are estimates. If Jones signed for $2.49 million and my math is correct, we are right at our pool maximum plus the 4.99% overage from that we are allowed before we lost that draft pick.
Bottom line either way: There is no money left to throw at draft picks beyond round 10. So guys are either going to have to sign for $100,000 or they are going (or going back) to college. Not unexpected as the Indians and other teams pick contingency guys just in case their top draft picks don't sign. I think Baird was that for Jones and, with Jones signing, there is no money left for Baird. Every once in a while a HS guy (like maybe Alvarez or Studstill) will sign for $100,000 as they still get their college paid for and want to start their pro career. However, the most highly rated guys we drafted after the 10th round will, now, likely not sign as there isn't any money left to sign them. As I said previously, I am pretty sure if they stay healthy and productive a lot of these guys will get at least $100,000 in signing bonus in 3 years. Not guaranteed, for sure, as injuries and lack of production will rob some of these kids of their chance to play pro ball, but for the good ones, it is very likely that they will get a higher bonus offer in 3 years.
Just for grins, to help put this draft in perspective, I did an analysis. Assuming no one else signs, here is how this draft plays out if we put the guys in order of their Baseball America ranking next to the draft slots the Indians had. Now, this is NOT where these guys were drafted, necessarily, it is just a construct I am using to rate this draft if we had drafted these guys in order of talent and if those guys had been there where the appropriate pick came around.
14th selection: 19th best player (Jones)
55th selection: 30th best player (Benson)
72nd selection: 62nd best player (Capel)
92nd selection: 65th best player (Ice)
122nd selection: 184th best player (Beiber)
152nd selection: 204th best player (Civale)
182nd selection: 235th best player (Calica)
212th selection: 236th best player (Clemmer)
242nd selection: 254th best player (Cantu)
272nd selection: 294th best player (Tinsley
302nd selection: Unranked (Taylor)
Assuming none of the top prospects that we drafted in rounds 11-40 sign, this is still a good, solid draft and well played by the Indians. If you look the top 4 draft slots the Indians had and the top 4 ranked players they drafted, they essentially got a better player than their slot by an average of 14 slots per player drafted. In English, that means that, on paper, it looks like each of their top 4 ranked players should have been drafted 14 spots before the Indians got to pick them. By drafting Benson first and waiting to draft Capel until the 5th round and knowing Capel would sign for slot, the Indians did better, on paper, overall in the first 10 rounds in this draft compared to any draft they have had in recent years.
And, if we assume Cantu and Taylor are better prospects than their pre-draft rankings (and I think they will be) and Lantrip gives us something (LOOGY?), even without any of our other draft picks this becomes a really good draft. Not a great draft but a really good one and, if I had to grade it, their entire draft would be between a B+ and an A-. And that doesn't count the possibility of getting some production from Plesac, Nelson or any of our other, later, college or JUCO guys. When you consider how good we have been at finding the Ben Hellers, Shawn Armstrongs, etc. in the later rounds, this draft may have a little more than those top 11 picks. It is said that if you can get 3-4 guys out of draft who make some contribution in the majors you have had a successful draft. I think this draft could have 10 guys play at some point in the majors. No guarantees but there is a decent change they get more than the average number of major leaguers out of this draft, impressive considering where they drafted!
So, congratulations to the Indians and let's hope (and I am pretty sure we can be sure that) the Indians did their calculations correctly and we don't lose a pick next year. I am about 99.5% sure we won't lose a pick (i.e., we didn't exceed 4.99% over our draft pool allotment) so if that is true, great work by the Indians.