Harvesting Opinion is a regular feature on Seedlings to Stars. Each week, six of FanSided’s team blogs send S2S a question relating to their team’s minor league system, and we answer them in this space–each question gets one article devoted to answering it. In this way, we make sure we regularly get to discuss hot-button issues relating to the systems of every team, as these go on a five-week cycle.
Please note that any statistics used may be a day or two out of date, as we prepare our answers over the course of a week.
In this edition, we tackle a question sent to us from our Toronto Blue Jays site Jays Journal:
A number of people believe the Jays missed out on a big opportunity when they failed to sign this year’s first round pick Tyler Beede. Do you believe Jays fans should be upset about this, or should they focus on the compensation pick and the existing pitching depth in their system? Given the youth of their existing rotation, will failing to sign Beede cause any long term damage to the system?
There’s no way to sugar coat things. Anytime a team fails to sign any of their top picks, they are missing out on an opportunity. With the strength and depth of the 2011 draft class, losing out on a talent like Beede is a significant blow to Toronto’s farm system.
As things stand today, they will get a compensatory draft pick, but next year’s draft class appears to be much weaker than this past one. That means the player they select in the 2012 draft with the 22nd pick is more than likely going to be less talented than Tyler Beede. We also can’t dismiss that the next CBA that will be put in place this offseason figures to make sweeping and significant changes to the draft system.
Beyond the draft implications, you can never ever ever have too many legit pitching prospects and while Toronto did a fabulous job loading up on talent, and an even better job of spending to get most of it under contract, Beede was the cream of their draft class crop and he’s the one that got away.
The pitching depth in their system and the youth of their major league rotation will go a long way toward masking the loss, but the impact will be felt regardless. As Royals fans can attest, you can never have too much talent in your farm system.
When one considers that major league rookies get paid approximately $400,000 per year, and that a fairly average season (say, 2 WAR) is worth $8-10 million, it’s stunning that you see teams fail to sign any first-round picks, ever. After all, if Tyler Beede got an exorbitant $7 million bonus, the Jays could recoup all of that value just by having him pitch one year with 30 starts and a 4.50-ish ERA.
There’s no denying the depth of arms in the Jays system, but Wally’s Royals touchstone is certainly valid. Several of the Royals’ top arms have taken a big step back this year, and what rated as easily the best group of pitching prospects in the minors entering the year is now probably just a merely above-average collection. Jays fans have seen the same thing happen with their top prospect, Kyle Drabek, who’s been torched in both the majors and Triple-A this season.
I’d be less concerned about the failure to sign Beede if it weren’t for the potential hard slotting system in the new CBA that Wally brought up, which could make next year’s 22nd pick far less valuable than this year’s. Perhaps the Jays had reasons to worry about Beede and thought they could get more bang for their buck next year, but it’s a huge risk to think that the value of any pick next season will be similar to this year’s, not to mention the fact that the Jays will have no leverage in negotiating with who they draft, since they lose the pick if they don’t sign next year’s selection.
That’s not to say that failing to sign Tyler Beede is doomsday in Toronto–he’s just one player, and plenty of late first-rounders don’t pan out. Of course, the team also has plenty of in-house arms in the majors and minors, and they get the compensation pick next year. It’s quite possible that this will never come back to hurt the Jays, but given what a huge steal any top pick is in terms of potential payoff, it’s hard to justify the decision in a vacuum.
For more on the Blue Jays, check out Jays Journal.