“The early favorite to be the top player drafted next year,” wrote Baseball America this week, as they released their first look at the top prospects for the 2018 draft, “is Florida righthander Brady Singer, who went 2-0, 2.57 with 21 strikeouts and just three walks in 14 innings to help lead the Gators to their first College World Series title.”
Singer. Brady Singer. Now where… where do I know that name from?
“Singer, who didn’t sign with the Blue Jays as a second-round pick in 2015, has used his time on campus to learn how to use his explosive stuff.”
Ohhhh that guy.
After years of watching fans flip out about the Jays not signing their top picks, only to have those situations turn out entirely fine — the pick they got back for not signing Tyler Beede was used on Marcus Stroman, and the one for not signing Phil Bickford was used on Max Pentecost (and the fact that they had two such high picks that year allowed them to take a calculated risk on Jeff Hoffman) — I was awfully ho-hum on the fact that Singer and the club couldn’t reach a deal. (Actually, that’s putting my reaction mildly).
I should not have been.
Partly it was that the issue between the Jays and Singer was related to his medicals.
Blue Jays amateur scouting director Brian Parker declined to offer specifics, but said it “wasn’t a financial decision.”
“I can’t get into details, but it’s unfortunate we weren’t able to get anything done with him,” Parker said. ”We obviously like Brady and we wish him and his family a lot of success moving forward at Florida.”
I wrote that “it certainly doesn’t seem *wink* like the club would like you to think *wink* *wink* that there was an injury or anything. *WINK*”
BA’s John Manuel was more explicit:
— John Manuel (@johnmanuelba) July 17, 2015
Sometimes these things happen!
But looked at with the benefit of hindsight, uh… maybe the failures to sign and the drafting of guys with injury troubles happened a little too much during the Brian Parker era.
The 2012 draft was the first one under a new CBA, and the first one to feature bonus pools and strict spending limits. It was also the final draft headed for the Jays by Andrew Tinnish, who was promoted to assistant GM, with Parker taking over to run the drafts in 2013, 2014, and 2015 under Alex Anthopoulos (he was also scouting director under Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins for the 2016 draft, but one wonders how much sway he held by then, given that he was let go following last season).
By 2013, the league seem to have figured out that, under the new CBA, it was vital to have your ducks in a row and know that the player you select is actually going to sign. In a piece last month at Baseball America, J.J. Cooper noted that 8.5% of players selected in the first 10 rounds of the 2011 draft didn’t end up signing. The next year it dropped to 2.4%, ticking up to 2.5% in 2013, before declining to just 0.6% in 2016. Since teams’ bonus pools are dependent on the total slot values of all picks signed this stuff is kind of important.
Perhaps the Jays were behind the curve?
I don’t want to shit too much on Parker based on total speculation or on trying to read too much into a process that’s really, really fucking hard and involves so many variables, but it’s interesting…
In 2013 they took Phil Bickford (though I’d heard it was because Mel Didier raved about him to Alex, so maybe this isn’t too much on Parker), who they didn’t sign. Their second round pick was Clinton Hollon, who had injury issues but they took anyway based on upside and cost, for well under slot. He served one 50 game suspension for a banned amphetamine, and another for a drug of abuse before being released by the organization this January, having last thrown for them in 2015. Yeesh.
On the other hand, the Jays’ 2014 haul of Jeff Hoffman (since traded, of course), Max Pentecost, and Sean Reid-Foley with their first three selections looks pretty good! But that’s only because Hoffman (since traded — did I mention that?) recovered well from Tommy John surgery, which the Jays knew about when they took him. And because Pentecost (who I’d heard the Jays took based largely on a late look from Parker, which maybe says something about their due diligence re: health — though keep in mind these things I’ve heard are all just whispers that may also entirely be bullshit) has somehow reemerged as a prospect because of his bat, after years in the wilderness because he couldn’t stay on the field.
Then in 2015 you get what some saw as a “safe” pick in Jon Harris — though Keith Law saw him as a prize, saying that “have gone ten picks or so higher” than where the Jays took him at 29 — and a couple “helium” picks that maybe were a little bit risky in Justin Maese, who Law liked quite a lot, and the aforementioned Singer. Uh… this guy:
— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) June 27, 2017
Uggggggghhhhh. And also: Ugh. Not sure how much I like all of that “let’s take the injured guy” and “let’s not worry about not signing this guy even though everyone else has decided that’s a bad idea” stuff, in retrospect.
But, again, it’s so hard to criticize when there’s so much going into these calls that we don’t know, and so many moving parts — and ways to get value back if you do miss. A good example of that is the pick that the Jays got back for not signing Singer. They used it in 2016 on J.B. Woodman, which… ugh. However! Woodman signed for $149,000 under slot, while the club’s next pick, Bo Bichette, signed for $121,000 over slot. If you look the bonuses and slot values for all the picks the Jays made last year, you see that it’s not quite so simple an equation as “no Woodman, no Bichette,” but you don’t have to squint too hard to see that that’s kinda the case. So maybe this is all fine!
There are only two players drafted ahead of Bichette on the mid-season top prospects list at Baseball Prospectus, so… yeah… I think that might be working out just fine.
I’m not expecting to hear it put quite that way over the next year, though. Especially if Singer stays at the top of everybody’s draft board.