As you all know by now, signability is a major factor in MLB’s first-year player draft, so much so that it’s informally referred to as “the sixth tool.” While big names like Andrew Miller and Rick Porcello receive the bulk of the attention as players who fell because of their price tags, more often than not it’s the lesser-known players, the second or third round guys who feel they’re worth first or second round money, who end up being the real signability steals of the draft.
The Yanks have worked this angle to perfection in recent years, digging deep in their Swiss bank accounts to bring players such as Austin Jackson, Dellin Betances and Carmen Angelini into the system. All three were solid sandwich or early-second round talents in their respective drafts, but their lofty bonus demands and college commitments scared teams away. The Yanks took each player later than their talent warranted (Jackson and Betances in the 8th round, Angelini in the 10th), and paid out bonuses typically given to players selected in the late first round. All three are now among the most promising prospects in the system.
While this year’s draft class is lacking in overall quality compared to that of the last three or four years, there is still plenty of talent to go around. Here are two guys who fit the Jackson-Betances-Angelini mold — top talents with top bonus demands. It’s not a matter of if the Yanks will pay the money needed to sign these kids, it’s just a matter of how fast the ink can dry on the signing bonus check. Fun starts after the jump.
Nick Maronde, LHP, Lexington Catholic High (Ky.)
A three pitch southpaw with a near-ideal pitcher’s frame (6’3″, 195 lbs), Maronde has a commitment to Florida and is being advised by Scott Boras, which instantly means it’ll take more than slot money to sign him. Maronde’s two best offerings are a fastball that checks in at 88-91 mph, and an upper-70’s slider. He can vary the break on his slider to better combat lefty and righty batters. His third pitch is a changeup, but it needs work.
While his stuff is obviously good, what sets Maronde apart is his command and polish. He works both sides of the plate and pounds the lower third of the zone consistently. His delivery has a little funk to it but nothing extreme. Maronde is a rare safe high school pick, a kid that knows how to pitch rather than throw, similar to a Zach McAllister type.
Maronde also has a little bit of projection left, and should sit around 92 with his fastball when he fills out. If he follows through on his college commitment and adds that extra tick to his fastball, he’d be a surefire first-rounder in the 2011 draft. Baseball America ranked Maronde the 70th best prospect in the draft while Keith Law ranked him at 59. The Boras factor is likely to cause Maronde to slide into Day 2 of the draft and he’s a “must draft” in my completely amateur opinion.
Here’s a clip of Maronde warming up before a recent start:
Bobby Bundy, RHP, Sperry High (Ok.)
First things first, his name is Bundy, and that’s awesome. Now that that’s taken care of, let’s get down to business.
Bundy was working his way up draft boards late last year and had realistic shot at being a first round pick, but he pulled an Aaron Boone and
hit a walk-off homerun to send his team to their sixth World Series in eight years tore his ACL in a pickup basketball game during the winter. The injury not only ended any chance he had of being taken in the first round, it also kept him off the bump for the most of the spring. Bundy was able to take the mound with the aid of a knee brace late in the season, but it didn’t give him enough exposure for scouts to properly evaluate him.
A power pitcher with a big 6’2″, 205 lb frame, Bundy regularly sat 92-94 with his fastball prior to the injury and used a power downer curve as his put-away pitch. He hasn’t regained all of his velocity yet because of the knee, but it should return in time. He needs to develop a third pitch. Bundy pitches aggressively and is an extreme strike thrower, to a fault almost.
Committed to Arkansas, Bundy is still looking for the second round money he likely would have received if he remained healthy. Rated the 96th best draft prospect by Baseball America, a team willing to overlook the injury may still pop him early, but he’s a candidate to drop because no one has gotten a good look at him this year. Bundy’s not a must-draft like Maronde, but he’s a nice guy to have in the fold if you can get him with the mid-to-late round “value” pick.
Just as a quick reminder: The draft goes down next Thursday, June 5th, with ESPN2 televising the first and sandwich rounds beginning at 2 p.m. As usual, RAB will be bringing you tons and tons of coverage before, during, and after the big event. Here’s Baseball America‘s rundown of how the whole thing works in case you need a reminder.