In the moments leading up to Monday’s 9:01 p.m. PT deadline, the Padres signed three of their “big four” unsigned picks from the June draft. They inked right-handers Joe Ross (25th overall, $2.75 million) and Michael Kelly (48th, $718,000), and catcher Austin Hedges (82nd, $3 million), all of whom had strong college commitments (Ross and Hedges to UCLA, Kelly to Florida).
The only one that got away was catcher Brett Austin (54th), who chose to attend North Carolina State instead. The Padres will receive the 55th pick overall in the 2012 draft as compensation for their failure to sign Austin.
The Padres signed 22 of their top 23 picks, and 35 of 53 total, spending “a little over $11 million” in the process. I can’t find exact slot bonus recommendations, but Baseball America has the 14th pick at $1.6 million and the 67th pick at $545,000.
By my estimation, the Padres went about double the slot recommendation for Ross and more than five times the recommendation for Hedges. They also signed their 14th-round pick, right-hander Burch Smith, for $250,000. Obviously, the organization (and the industry) is cheap when it comes to doling out contracts to amateur talent.
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The draft signing process sucks. People who follow this stuff (at least the ones I encountered on Twitter) were freaking out when nothing had been announced even 30 minutes before the deadline. By that time, if memory serves, 22 first-round picks remained unsigned.
This isn’t a Padres problem, it’s a baseball problem. Or maybe not. Maybe we are better off not worrying about who did or didn’t sign until after the fact. It’s hard to sell that concept to information junkies, but it’s the approach I take.
A few people asked me if I was concerned about whether the Padres would sign their picks. Not really; I’m not the guy negotiating the deal or signing the checks. Nobody is paying me to worry about these things. I’m just some guy drinking beer, watching people freak out on Twitter. Isn’t that entertainment enough?
I’ll tell you what does concern me: I hope the Padres evaluation of talent is better this year than it has been in some years past. And I hope that the player development folks can turn these talented kids into useful big leaguers who provide at least some return on investment.
A team with a $45 million payroll can’t afford to blow a quarter of that amount on draft picks that fail. The commitment to spend is fantastic, but without subsequent development, it means nothing beyond a bunch of money wasted.
Also not my problem. Beer. Twitter. I’m good…