2014 MLB Draft Day 3: Signability issues help uncover late-round gems

Rich Schultz

While the flood of famous names and faces slowed to a trickle, the perils of signing young players may have led to quality prospects falling into the laps of teams much later than projected.

Outside of a few familiar familial names like Mariano Rivera III -- who was selected in the 29th round with the 872nd pick by the New York Yankees out of Iona -- the story of Day 3 of the 2014 MLB Draft was the effect that "signability" can have on your draft position.

Unlike Days 1 and 2, other than Rivera and Cal Ripken, Jr.'s son Ryan -- picked up in the 15th round by the Baltimore Orioles' regional rivals, the Washington Nationals -- the famous names were in relatively short supply, depending on how you feel about Bobby Bonilla's oeuvre. In some cases, like that of Benito Santiago's son, Benito, Jr., those not drafted weren't passed over because of a lack of talent, but worry over whether the team could offer a deal that would entice the player to renege on his commitment to his college team.

Santiago wasn't the only prospect teams were scared away from over fears of a wasting a valuable draft pick on a player that would likely refuse to sign. RHP Jacob Bukauskas, RHP Keaton McKinney, OF Jeren Kendall and RHP Bryce Montes de Oca all found themselves selected on Day 3 instead of the first two -- where they were projected talent-wise -- because teams were unwilling to meet their bonus demands. However, teams were more than willing to risk a late-round draft pick on the off chance the players would agree to a lower bonus instead of heading to college.

Those looking for large bonuses weren't the only ones who saw their draft stock drop as a result of signability issues. In some cases, it had less to do with the players' "issues" and more with the run on relatively cheap players who have run out of college eligibility. Prospects like Arkansas LHP Jalen Beeks, Fresno State RHP Jordan Brink, and Hawaii HS C K.J. Harrison were pushed aside by Day 2's 69 easily-signed seniors despite scouting grades that would have placed them squarely in the second day of the draft.

It's impossible to tell how any of these players will project going forward, especially when the majority of players who make it to the majors are found in the first 10 rounds. The good news is that it's entirely possible many of these players may find themselves being drafted even earlier in the process... if they choose to forgo the money and stay the course, that is.

Those risks can swing wildly the other way, however. Such was the case with Karsten Whitson, who was originally selected ninth overall in the 2010 draft by the San Diego Padres before plummeting to an 11th-round selection by the Boston Red Sox this year. Whitson's stock dropped precipitously following a string of injuries that sidetracked his collegiate career following a fantastic freshmen year with the Florida Gators.

But for now, it's just time to appreciate the hope that springs from the draft, even if the faith put in these players may not pay off for several years. The draft, which ended after 1,215 picks -- the last one being Davis Ward, a right-hander out of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas taken by the St. Louis Cardinals -- is something with an impact that takes time to feel, even if some of us have made up our mind on what that impact will be.

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