Which drafted players from this year automatically become their respective team's No. 1 overall prospect once they sign?
-- J.P. S., Springfield, Ill.
J.P. has asked me this question going back to the days when I wrote the Ask BA column for Baseball America, and I've answered it the last two years in the Pipeline Inbox (here and here). We'll add Draft picks to our team Top 30 lists in Prospect Watch before the non-waiver Trade Deadline on Aug. 1, and it's tough for them to ascend to their organization's No. 1 spot immediately.
California high school outfielder Mickey Moniak was a worthy No. 1 overall selection, but the Phillies already have shortstop J.P. Crawford, our top-rated position prospect in the entire Minors. We ranked New Jersey prep left-hander Jason Groome as the best talent in the 2016 Draft, but he'd slot in fifth on a stacked Red Sox list behind second baseman Yoan Moncada, outfielder Andrew Benitendi, righty Anderson Espinoza and third baseman Rafael Devers.
I see six draftees who are good bets to become the No. 1 prospect for their organization in July: Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel (over outfielder Jesse Winker and right-hander Robert Stephenson) with the Reds, Alabama high school lefty Braxton Garrett (over first baseman Josh Naylor) with the Marlins, California prep righty Matt Manning (over righty Beau Burrows and outfielder Christin Stewart) with the Tigers, Mercer outfielder Kyle Lewis (over righty Edwin Diaz) with the Mariners, Virginia catcher Matt Thaiss (over outfielder Jahmai Jones) with the Angels and Illinois righty Cody Sedlock (over still-sidelined righty Hunter Harvey) with the Orioles.
In my last Pipeline Inbox, @jonnyj86 asked when I thought the White Sox might call up shortstop Tim Anderson, and I responded that they should do so immediately as they chase a playoff berth. Lo and behold, Chicago promoted Anderson last week.
We'll see if I have the same effect on the Astros and Bregman, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 Draft who's batting .308/.406/.577 with 13 homers and more walks (29) than strikeouts (21) in 52 Double-A games. He leads the Texas League in on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. He's not going to displace Carlos Correa from shortstop in Houston, but if I were running the Astros, I'd give Bregman more time at third base and bring him to Minute Maid Park as soon as he's ready to handle the hot corner.
Doing so is a no-brainer to me. Bregman is a better hitter and defender than Houston's regular third baseman (Luis Valbuena) and its backup option (Marwin Gonzalez). He's only 22 and has played just 118 games as a pro, but Bregman's competitive makeup is off the charts and I have no doubt he'd handle the jump with aplomb. The Astros are trying to get back into the American League Wild Card race after a dreadful start, and he would help.
I have a concern about the Red Sox's pick of Jason Groome. Since he was at one point considered to be a possible No. 1 overall selection, will his financial requirements prohibit Boston from signing any of its other top-10-rounds or later tough-signability draftees? Do you think the Red Sox will sign Groome and any of its other tough signs in later rounds?
-- Jason S., Simsbury, Conn.
Though Groome was MLBPipeline.com's top-rated Draft prospect, the Phillies or Reds never seriously considered taking him with one of the first two selections. He's a left-hander with No. 1 starter stuff, but he also comes with risk because he's a high school pitcher and has maturity issues that concern clubs. On Draft Day, the only real landing spots for Groome in the top 10 selections appeared to be No. 6 with the Athletics (who went with Florida lefty A.J. Puk) and No. 8 with the Padres (who opted for Stanford righty Cal Quantrill).
San Diego hoped Groome would fall all the way to its pair of extra first-round picks at Nos. 24 and 25, and multiple industry sources say the Padres promised him a $5 million bonus if he got there. That didn't happen, with the Red Sox stepping in at No. 12. With a winning big league club that has a strong core of young talent, not to mention several blue-chip prospects rising through the Minors, it may be years before Boston has an opportunity to draft a player with as much upside as Groome.
I don't believe the Red Sox care what the Padres offered, and I don't think they're going to scrape together every dollar they can in their $6,997,400 bonus pool and just hand it to Groome. He'll likely get more than the $3,192,800 assigned pick value at No. 12, but Boston may get all of its other signings done and offer him whatever remains in its allocation. The Red Sox would get the No. 13 choice in the 2017 Draft if he doesn't sign, and I don't see them exceeding their pool by more than 5 percent to land him and forfeiting a future first-rounder as a penalty.
Boston took several talented high school players on Day 3 of the Draft, starting with Nevada second baseman/catcher Nick Quintana in the 11th round and also including Georgia shortstop Cam Shepherd (29th round), Illinois shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (30th), Washington outfielder Christian Jones (31st), New York left-hander Jeff Belge (32nd) and Florida righty Austin Bergner (38th). The Red Sox may be able to fit at least one of them, as well as Groome, into their Draft budget.