Three Maryland baseball players were selected in the 2016 MLB Draft: Mike Shawaryn (5th round, by the Red Sox), Mike Rescigno (25th, Giants), and Robert Galligan (36th, Diamondbacks). Also selected was Maryland recruit Tyler Blohm (17th, Baltimore Orioles). Galligan, who was a senior and thus had little room to negotiate (see below) signed quickly and is now pitching for the Missoula Ospreys in the Pioneer Rookie League. But the road for the other three players had Maryland baseball fans waiting until literally minutes before the July 15 signing deadline.
Slot machines and The Unicorn
Slot machines, sometimes referred to as one-armed bandits, were made famous in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. But a different sort of gambling involving slots can be found right after the MLB draft concludes. Each player who is drafted is given an estimated value ("slotted value") based on exactly where they’re selected. But whether a player actually gets that amount is another story. Teams have a total allotment that they can spend on on their picks, a sum of the first 10 rounds’ slotted values, before they incur stiff financial penalties. So if one player is signed for $50,000 above his slotted value, another of that team’s draftees will have to get $50,000 under his slotted value. Seniors don’t have much wriggle room, as their collegiate career is over. Clear as mud, right?
Shawaryn had a slotted value of $375,500. But it was generally accepted that The Unicorn was taken much later than his true value. Hence the Red Sox had to be somewhat prudent when signing other draft picks in order to pay Shawaryn a realistic signing bonus. Many teams find that money by undersigning seniors, as mentioned above, and paying first round picks well under their slotted value. For example, the first five draft picks in 2016 had a combined slotted value of close to $35.0 million, but ended up signing for about $25.5 million. In the case of the Boston Red Sox, their first round pick, LHP Jason Groome (high school senior) had a slotted value of $3.2 million, but he had reportedly wanted $4.0 million. Thus it wasn’t surprising that three of Boston’s picks in the first ten rounds were unsigned as of July 14th, including Shawaryn.
This particular tale has a happy ending, at least for Maryland fans. The Red Sox and Shawaryn were able to come to terms that more accurately aligned with Shawaryn’s value, roughly that of a third-round pick. The actual signing occurred Friday afternoon. Shawaryn will now don the uniform of the Class A Short Season Lowell Spinners.
Will lightning strike thrice?
Rescigno is a rising senior and thus eligible to be drafted again next year if he returns to play his senior year at college. There is a risk in doing so, as seniors who are drafted don’t have a lot of room to negotiate. However, if a player can substantially move up the draft boards as a senior, then it might make sense for that player to return for his final year.
Two Terrapin pitchers in the recent past took this chance and turned down going pro after being drafted as a rising senior. In 2012 LHP Jimmy Reed was selected in the 21st round by the New York Yankees, but returned to College Park for his senior season. He went 6-4 with a 2.33 ERA and was drafted in the sixth round of the MLB draft by St. Louis. That same year (2013) RHP Jake Stinnett was selected in the 29th round by Pittsburgh. Following Reed’s example, Stinnett turned down pro ball for one more year. In 2014 Stinnett went 8-6 and struck out 132 hitters in 118 innings. He was subsequently selected in the second round by the Cubs.
Rescigno has opted to do the same, and Baseball America has more on his decision. Will lightning strike thrice for a Terp pitcher? Rescigno will certainly be in a good spot to do so if he becomes the team’s closer.
A gutsy decision by Blohm
All Tyler Blohm did this past year as a high school senior was to go 9-0 and be named the Gatorade Maryland High School Player of the Year. His hometown Orioles drafted him in the 17th round, a high enough position where going pro is tempting. However Blohm turned down going pro for the moment and elected to attend Maryland to pitch for the Terrapins. The southpaw has terrific potential. His coming to Maryland is a real coup for the Terps and new pitching coach Ryan Fecteau.