Sunday Insider: Talking dollars and sense with MLB draft

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 10, 2012 - 8:37 AM

Less than a week after the draft, several No. 1 picks already have signed, a hint that new MLB rules are working.

Major League Baseball's No. 1 draft pick Carlos Correa, 17, from Puerto Rico, participates in an infield drill after signing with the Houston Astros before a baseball game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Astros, Thursday, June 7, 2012, in Houston.

Photo: Pat Sullivan, Associated Press - Ap

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The first-year player draft is over, and it's time to find out how well Major League Baseball's efforts to restrict wild spending on signing bonuses will work.

We won't know for sure until all the contracts are signed, but there already are some things about which to be encouraged.

As of Friday, five first-round picks already had signed. With the league imposing budgets and setting slot recommendations, there's less room for teams and players to negotiate up or down. There are indications that the Twins are close to agreements with several draft picks, and that negotiations with Byron Buxton, the second overall pick Monday, won't take long.

Perhaps the best thing to come from the new system is that the league also has moved up the signing deadline to July 13, which many are applauding.

"It benefits everyone," said Mike Radcliff, Twins director of player personnel. "The player, the organization, the scouting director. And the colleges, they can go out and replace the guys they didn't get. That is one positive repercussion of the agreement."

Here are some other notes following one of the most important drafts in Twins history:

Strategy

The talk of the draft was about teams selecting players they could sign for less than the league's recommendations, giving them more room to sign players in rounds five through 10. In most cases, that meant drafting college seniors, who have little leverage because they can't return to college.

Houston took shortstop Carlos Correa with the first overall pick and he agreed to a $4.8 million bonus, well under the league's recommendation of $7.2 million. The savings will help the Astros in their efforts to sign righthander Lance McCullers Jr., who dropped to 41st overall reportedly because of salary demands.

The Twins didn't go that route, but their picks were interesting.

Several picks over the first seven rounds were ranked by Baseball American to go lower than where the Twins selected them. In the sixth round, for instance, they took lefthander Andre Martinez with the 190th pick when he was ranked as the 404th-best prospect.

Everything turned around after the seventh round. Every player the Twins selected was supposed to be off the board by then. Was it intentional?

"It's about what you think the players are worth," Radcliff said.

What's next?

Teams now turn their attention to July 2, when international players can be signed as long as they are 16 years old. Amaurys Minier, a shortstop from the Dominican Republic, and Luis Torrens, a catcher from Venezuela, are two players in which the Twins are interested. The rules have changed here as well. Teams can't spend more than $2.9 million on their international signings.

First one up?

Who will be the first player from the Twins' draft class to be called up? I'll go with second-round pick Mason Melotakis, from Northwestern State. He's lefthanded and throws 96 miles per hour with a good breaking ball. The Twins will give him a chance to start, but I can see him getting to the bigs in a little over a year as a reliever.

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