May
27

2008 Draft Preview: Signability Steals

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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.

(Photo Credits: Austin Jackson via Hawaii Winter Baseball, Nick Maronde via The Kentucky Herald Leader, Bobby Bundy via Coaches Aid)

Categories : Draft
  • rbizzler

    What’s up with the straight lead leg in Maronde’s delivery? It looks awkward just watching the short video, but who am I to judge. Maybe that’s how he gets movement on the ball…

  • J.R.

    Mike, earlier this year you made a post about lefties to keep an eye on. Looks like you called it perfect with Tim Murphy from UCLA. 3 Pac-10 pitcher of the weeks award and leading the leauge in strikeouts and holding hitters to .222 over 94.2 . I think the yankees will never get a cahnce at this kid.

  • Mike R.

    What about the hard throwing lefty from Minnesota TJ House? He is expected to slip due to his commitment to Venderbilt I believe.

    BTW Last years signability drop Matt Harvey is looking very good this year.

  • Rob

    He is just warming up, I would imagine his leg kick gets higher when he is actually pitching. If that was his leg kick he wouldn’t be able to generate enough power to pitch faster than 82 mph.

  • r.w.g.

    I really hope the Yankees don’t spend picks in the first few premium rounds on guys just because they are left-handed.

    I trust the scouting department so if they are looking at somebody, I’m assuming it’s because they think they are in the top available players, not for organizational depth.

    • J.R.

      I agree with you, but in Murphy’s case he is one of the best college pitchers.

      • r.w.g.

        I wasn’t commenting on your suggestions. David Murphy certainly has put up some good numbers on a really bad team.

        I just keep reading reports that the Yankees are “zeroing in” or “focusing on” left-handers. And I’m not saying they shouldn’t scout left-handers or look for ones talented enough to spend an early-round pick on. I just hope they aren’t getting tunnel vision and have decided they want a lefty and are looking for one that they can talk themselves into.

  • yanks99

    How do you register with the commisioner’s office? Is it like the NBA draft (anyone can sign up) I’d like to know the details…I’d like to tell people I’m eligible for this year’s Major League Baseball draft.

  • Miles Roche

    WHAT???

    McCutchen was demoted?
    When did that happen? . . .

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Chillax. That’s the continuation of a game that was suspended over a week ago due to rain. McCutchen pitched the first 3 innings of the game prior to the rains. He’s still in Scranton.

      • Miles Roche

        Oh, Gotcha.
        Thanks as usual. . .

        • Miles Roche

          Thought that the game was suspended today after 3 inn. and will be resumed tonight at 6:05pm. . .
          Yet i knew something was weird with that.

      • Miles Roche

        So, any idea on who will be starting today for them, or will they go to the bullpen right away?

        • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

          No idea. I’m guessing whoever the regularly scheduled starter will “start” the game, hopefully giving the bullpen a rest.

  • Miles Roche

    Anybody know when Hughes is slated to start his rehab?

  • Ron

    A little off topic, but what package of prospects would the Yanks have to give up to land the Brewers (AA) Matt LaPorta?

    • Alan

      Ah the LaPorta ideas spring up again. Honestly I don’t know where people are getting these ideas. I’d imagine the Brewers would have to be blown away by an offer to consider trading away LaPorta, arguably one of the best hitting prospects in baseball right now.

  • Ron

    Well, seeing as they (the Brewers) desperately need pitching, and we have a plethora of it, what package of pitchers would they conceivably accept?

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