Results tagged ‘ minor leagues ’

The MLB Draft

I’ve been wanting to start a blog here for a long time, and now’s my chance.  On the boards today, we were discussing the draft, and one thing struck very clear: The MLB Draft nay be one of the most confusing events in all of American sports.  A few years ago, I decided to research the draft so I wouldn’t be quite so lost.  I realize not everyone has been able to do that, so here I hope to lay it out in a fashion that would make sense, even to a Cubs fan.

The “Sections” Of A Draft
The MLB Draft has a few “sections.”  Like most drafts, there are rounds.  In the MLB First Year Draft, there are fifty.  There are a few key differences between the MLB Draft and, say, the NFL Draft, though.  Notably, the Compensation A and Compensation B Rounds.  More on these later.

Rounds 1-50, not including the two compensation rounds, proceed much like the majority of the drafts we’re familiar with: Teams choose players in the inverse order of the previous year’s standings.  When there is a tie, the team records from the previous two seasons combined are used as a tie-breaker to determine order.  Throughout this entry, I will use the 2008 MLB Draft as an example.  In 2007, Major League Baseball finished with the following records:

1. Boston Red Sox (.593)
1. Cleveland Indians (.593)
3. New York Yankees (.580)
3. Los Angeles Angels (.580)
5. Arizona Diamondbacks (.556)
6. Colorado Rockies (.552)
7. Philadelphia Phillies (.549)
8. San Diego Padres (.546)
9. Detroit Tigers (.543)
9. Seattle Mariners (.543)
9. New York Mets (.543)
12. Chicago Cubs (.525)
13. Atlanta Braves (.519)
14. Toronto Blue Jays (.512)
14. Milwaukee Brewers (.512)
16. Los Angeles Dodgers (.506)
17. Minnesota Twins (.488)
18. St. Louis Cardinals (.481)
19. Oakland Athletics (.469)
20. Texas Rangers (.463)
21. Washington Nationals (.451)
21. Houston Astros (.451)
23. Chicago White Sox (.444)
23. Cincinnati Reds (.444)
25. Florida Marlins (.438)
25. San Francisco Giants (.438)
27. Baltimore Orioles (.426)
27. Kansas City Royals (.426)
29. Pittsburgh Pirates (.420)
30. Tampa Bay Devil Rays (.407)

Using the tie-breaker mentioned above, and then inverting the order, we come up with the draft order (when two numbers appear in parentheses, the second in the team’s 2006 record):

1. Tampa Bay Rays (.407)
2. Pittsburgh Pirates (.420)
3. Kansas City Royals (.426/.383)
4. Baltimore Orioles (.426/.423)
5. San Francisco Giants (.438/.472)
6. Florida Marlins (.438/481)
7. Cincinnati Reds (.444/.494)
8. Chicago White Sox (.444/.556)
9. Washington Nationals (.451/.438)
10. Houston Astros (.451/.506)
11. Texas Rangers (.463)
12. Oakland Athletics (.469)
13. St. Louis Cardinals (.481)
14. Minnesota Twins (.488)
15. Los Angeles Dodgers (.506)
16. Milwaukee Brewers (.512/.463)
17. Toronto Blue Jays (.512/.537)
18. Atlanta Braves (.519)
19. Chicago Cubs (.525)
20. Seattle Mariners (.543/.481)
21. Detroit Tigers (.543/.586)
22. New York Mets (.543/.599)
23. San Diego Padres (.546)
24. Philadelphia Phillies (.549)
25. Colorado Rockies (.552)
26. Arizona Diamondbacks (.556)
27. Los Angeles Angels (.580/.549)
28. New York Yankees (.580/.599)
29. Cleveland Indians (.593/.481)
30. Boston Red Sox (.593/.531)

This is our basic order.  It will be our basic order through every phase of the draft.  Some picks will move around, which I will explain later, but this is the template on which each round is based.

Free Agent Signings
The order of the first few rounds of the draft is affected by free agents signed in the previous offseason.  The Elias Sports Bureau ranks the top 40% of players at each position in Major League Baseball.  Those rankings become important, because they determine which of the following three categories a player falls into:

TYPE A FREE AGENTS: A type A Free Agent is one who is ranked in the top 20% of players at his position.  If a team offers arbitration to a Type A Free Agent and he refuses and signs with another team, that player’s new team must surrender their first round draft pick to the player’s old team.  In addition, the old team receives a “sandwich pick.”  More on these later.  Example: Entering the 2007/2008 offseason, New York Mets pitcher Tom Glavine was ranked #50 among starting pitchers. When he signed with the Atlanta Braves in the offseason, the Braves were forced to surrender their first round pick to the Mets.  The Mets also received a “sandwich pick.”

There is one exception to this rule: If the free agent’s new team has one of the top 15 picks in the draft, they do not have to surrender their first round pick to the player’s old team.  Instead, they surrender their second round pick.

TYPE B FREE AGENTS: A Type B Free Agent is one who is ranked in the 21st-40th percentile among players at their positions.  If a team offers arbitration to a Type B Free Agent and he refuses and signs with another team, his old team is awarded a “sandwich pick.”  However, his new team does not have to surrender any draft picks.  Example: Entering the 2007/2008 offseason, Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Luis Gonzalez was ranked #43 among Major Leaguers at his position.  When he left the team to sign with the Florida Marlins in the offseason, the Dodgers were awarded a “sandwich pick.”

TYPE C FREE AGENTS: These are actually not called Type C Free Agents anymore, but I’m going to use the antiquated title anyway, because I need to call them something. These are players who do not fit into either of the above categories.  If they leave a team and sign elsewhere in the offseason, their previous team receives no compensation.

ROUND 1
The 2008 draft had two instances where Type A Free Agents signed with new teams, who had to award the players’ old teams with their first round draft picks: The Braves gave the Mets their first round pick for pitcher Tom Glavine, and the Angels gave the Twins their first round pick for centerfielder Torii Hunter.  That solidifies the first round of the 2008 draft:

1. Tampa Bay Rays
2. Pittsburgh Pirates
3. Kansas City Royals
4. Baltimore Orioles
5. San Francisco Giants
6. Florida Marlins
7. Cincinnati Reds
8. Chicago White Sox
9. Washington Nationals
10. Houston Astros
11. Texas Rangers
12. Oakland Athletics
13. St. Louis Cardinals
14. Minnesota Twins
15. Los Angeles Dodgers
16. Milwaukee Brewers
17. Toronto Blue Jays
18. New York Mets (from Atlanta for Tom Glavine)
19. Chicago Cubs
20. Seattle Mariners
21. Detroit Tigers
22. New York Mets
23. San Diego Padres
24. Philadelphia Phillies
25. Colorado Rockies
26. Arizona Diamondbacks
27. Minnesota Twins (from Angels for Torii Hunter)
28. New York Yankees
29. Cleveland Indians
30. Boston Red Sox

A team also receives an additional pick if their previous year’s draftee did not sign with the team.  In such a case, they would receive a pick at the same draft position – plus one – the following year.  The other teams’ natural order continues “around” these picks.  Example: In 2007, with the third pick in the MLB Draft, the Chicago Cubs chose 3B Joshua Vitters from Cypress High School.  Had he chosen not to sign with the team, they would have received a pick in the 2008 draft equal to the same draft position (#3) plus one.  The first ten draft spots would then have looked like this:

1. Tampa Bay Rays

2. Pittsburgh Pirates

3. Kansas City Royals
4. Chicago Cubs (for Joshua Vitters)

5. Baltimore Orioles

6. San Francisco Giants

7. Florida Marlins

8. Cincinnati Reds

9. Chicago White Sox

10. Washington Nationals

COMPENSATION A
Ah, the Compensation A round.  This is where we go back to all of those “sandwich picks” we mentioned earlier.  They are called this because they are used in this round – which is “sandwiched” between Round 1 and Round 2. 

The Compensation A round has two phases: First, the compensation picks for teams who lost Type A free agents.  Like all other rounds, the order is the inverse of the previous season’s finish.  Once this phase of Comp A ends, we begin the second phase: The compensation picks for teams who lost Type B free agents.

Below is a list of the Compensation A round draft spots.  In parentheses are the names of the Type B free agents whose loss generated the pick:

ROUND 1 – TYPE A
1. Minnesota Twins (Torii Hunter)
2. Milwaukee Brewers (Francisco Cordero)
3. New York Mets (Tom Glavine)
4. Philadelphia Phillies (Aaron Rowand)

ROUND 2 – TYPE A
1. Milwaukee Brewers (Scott Linebrink)

ROUND 1 – TYPE B
1. Kansas City Royals (David Riske)
2. San Francisco Giants (Pedro Feliz)
3. Houston Astros (Mike Lamb)
4. St. Louis Cardinals (Troy Percival)
5. Atlanta Braves (Ron Mahay)
6. Chicago Cubs (Cliff Floyd)
7. San Diego Padres (Mike Cameron)
8. Arizona Diamondbacks (Livan Hernandez)
9. New York Yankees (Luis Vizcaino)
10. Boston Red Sox (Eric Gagne)

ROUND 2 – TYPE B
1. San Diego Padres (Doug Brocail)

When viewing it this way, it becomes clear that a team doesn’t automatically lose out when they lose a key free agent.  For instance, when Tom Glavine signed with the Atlanta Braves, it didn’t simply cost his former team, the Mets, the services of Tom Glavine.  They were compensated with two picks (the Braves’ first round pick and a “sandwich” pick).  They used these two picks to select 1B Isaac Davis from Arizona State University and RHP Bradley Holt from UNC-Wilmington.  In a way, it’s very similar to trading a player for prospects, except that the prospects are generated by the very team who lost the player.

ROUND 2
Round 2 of the draft is very similar to Round 1.  Teams who failed to sign the previous year’s second round draft pick receive an extra pick equal to the same draft spot plus one.  Example, in 2007 the Atlanta Braves selected RHP Joshua Fields from the University of Georgia in the second round.  Since the team was unable to sign Fields, they were awarded a pick in the second round of the 2008 draft.

In addition, teams which held a Top 15 pick – thus preventing them from giving up a first round pick for a Type A Free Agent – must now surrender their second round pick.  Example: Entering the 2007/2008 offseason, Philadelphia Phillies centerfielder Aaron Rowand was ranked #14 among Major Leaguers at his position.  When he
left the team to sign with the San Francisco Giants in the offseason, the
Phillies were awarded a draft pick by the Giants, as well as a “sandwich pick.”  Since the Giants held the #5 pick in the draft, they were not forced to award the Phillies their first round pick.  Instead, they had to surrender their second round pick.

The 2008 draft had three instances where Type A Free Agents signed with
new teams, who held top 15 picks and so did not have to award the players’ old teams with their first
round draft picks, but rather with their second round pick: The Giants gave the Phillies their second round pick for
centerfielder Aaron Rowand, the Reds gave the Brewers their second round pick for RHP Francisco Cordero, and the White Sox gave the Brewers their second round pick for RHP Scott Linebrink.  This solidifies our second round:

1. Tampa Bay Rays
2. Pittsburgh Pirates
3. Kansas City Royals
4. Baltimore Orioles
5. Philadelphia Phillies (from Giants for Aaron Rowand)
6. Florida Marlins
7. Milwaukee Brewers (from Reds for Francisco Cordero)
8. Milwaukee Brewers (from White Sox for Scott Linebrink)
9. Washington Nationals
10. Houston Astros
11. Texas Rangers
12. Oakland Athletics
13. St. Louis Cardinals
14. Minnesota Twins
15. Los Angeles Dodgers
16. Milwaukee Brewers
17. Toronto Blue Jays
18. Atlanta Braves
19. Chicago Cubs
20. Seattle Mariners
21. Detroit Tigers
22. New York Mets
23. San Diego Padres
24. Atlanta Braves (for RHP Joshua Fields)
25. Philadelphia Phillies
26. Colorado Rockies
27. Arizona Diamondbacks
28. Los Angeles Angels
29. New York Yankees
30. Cleveland Indians
31. Boston Red Sox

ROUND 3
Round 3 has a slight twist from the previous rounds.  Unlike the first two rounds, in which a team would receive a compensatory pick if their previous year’s draftee did not sign, in Round 3 those picks are withheld until the following “sub-round”: Compensation B.  If, for instance, the Braves had drafted Fields in the third round instead of the second, they would not receive a compensatory pick during Round 3.  Instead, they would have received a pick in Compensation B.

This is also the last round during which a team is awarded a compensatory pick for unsigned draftees in the previous year’s draft. 

Because this round is largely unaffected by free agent signings and compensatory picks, it usually goes exactly according to the original draft order. 

COMPENSATION B
Compensation B is another type of “sandwich” round.  However, it is usually very small, and consists solely of teams who were unable to sign their third-round draftees from the previous year’s draft.  The selections are made according to order in which the unsigned draftees were picked (in other words, the same order as the previous year’s draft).

In 2008, four teams were awarded with picks in this round:

1. Houston Astros (for 3B Derek Dietrich)
2. Philadelphia Phillies (for LF Matthew Spencer)
3. San Diego Padres (for RHP Thomas Toledo)
4. Los Angeles Angels (for RHP Matthew Harvey)

ROUNDS 4-50
From here on out, it’s smooth sailing.  The draft goes exactly according to the initial draft order, without deviation.  Each team gets one pick, and there are 30 picks per round.

Any team who did not sign the previous year’s 4th-50th round draft pick receives no compensation.  Further, any team who is unable to sign a draft pick chosen with one of these compensatory picks (in either Round 1, Round 2, or Compensation B) receives no compensation. 

And there it is.  The Rule 4 draft. Any questions or comments, please feel free to let me know.

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