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August 17, 2011

When You Absolutely, Positively Needed it Overnight: Overnight Millionaires

Filed under: baseball,Moneyball — baseball91 @ 6:28 PM
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With less than a six percent chance to make it to the big leagues, three names on the following list were made millionaires over night. Of course by waiting until the last minute before the August 15th deadline, these three guys lost out — if truly really big league players, with the average salary somewhere between two million to three million dollars per year — on being a year closer to their own development as big leaguers, besides the interest of more than $4,000, which would be chump change to a professional ball player.

Here is the list of draftees of the Minnesota Twins, the round signed for in parentheses, along with the amount signed for, in a year where all 30 major league ball clubs spent approximately $87 million in draft bonuses on just the first round draft choices. (There was reportedly $228 million spent on signing the entire Major League Baseball draft of 2011.)

SS Levi Michael (1) $1.175 million, last minute sign before senior year at the University of North Carolina.
3RD Trav Harrison (1), $1.05 million, out of high school, last minute sign.
RHP Hudson Boyd (1) 1 million, out of high school, last minute sign.
RHP Madison Boer (2), Oregon; $405,000, native of Eden Prairie, MN signed right away.
LHP Corey Williams (3), Vanderbilt reliever; $575,000, after missing much of last season with a shattered kneecap, a 5.64 ERA in 24 appearances. Signing at end of July double the slot.
RHP Matthew Summers (4), Cal-Irvine, hard-throwing pitcher, 9-2 with a 1.90, wanted $500,000 to sign out of high school as a pitcher but $100,000 to sign as an outfielder. Signed for $172,000.
INF Tyler Grimes (5), Wichita State; 30 errors in 329 chances in 2011, signed for $132,500.
OF Ivan Rodriguez (6) Opa Locka High School, Florida, $130,000
LHP Steve Gruver (7), Tennessee, $125,00
LHP Jason Wheeler (8), Loyola Marymount, 6-4 with a 3.84 ERA as a 6-foot-8 junior, last minute sign at $132,000, 2010 Northwoods League pitcher of the year (8-1 with a 1.35 ERA last summer for the St. Cloud River Bats). How much do those signing at this point of a season want to play? The minor league season has less than 3 weeks left.

Described by scouting director Deron Johnson as a switch-hitting 20-year old college shortstop with speed, Levi Michael signed for $1.175 million, $86,000 above all the discussion of slots. Selected 30th overall, junior INF Levi Michael appeared in 65 games in 2011 for the University of North Carolina, batting .289 in 242 at-bats with 22 extra base hits, five home runs and 48 or 49 RBI. These are million dollar statistics? In 2010, Michael appeared in 60 games, with a .346 average and 76 runs scored. So his performance diminished over the last twelve months, as well as his own private hopes of player development missing the 2011 season, setting him one season behind his own contemporaries. He must have a really bad agent, if he can play the game. And I heard about a bad performance in the College World Series. Not exactly a jump on my back Kirby Puckett-type.

Power-hitting third baseman Trav Harrison, a 50th overall pick from Tustin High School in California, reportedly signed for $1.05 million.

Righthanded pitcher Hudson Boyd, a 55th overall pick as a right-handed starter from Bishop Verot High School in Florida, who once attended school directly across the street from the Twins’ spring training complex in Fort Myers, reportedly signed for $1 million.

All these guys who have a six percent chance to get to the big league asking for big league bonuses to sign. It was the system, from the free agency draft. What did a big league club have to budget to sign these guys the FIRST time?

There was a lot of money spent in baseball over the last ten years. And what was the legacy built … by players like Mike Jacobs, who made it to the big leagues? Mike Jacobs was given his unconditional release by the Colorado Rockies after testing positive for the Human Growth Hormone. When you were up against time, as a player. With a finite end, these ball players were always commodities. And the number one draft choices signed at the last minutes believed somehow that they were gods, without an end?

The Colorado Rockies issued a press release to address the release of Mike Jacobs. Their press release about his exit visa from the game said, “There is no place in baseball for such substances, and we have and will continue to do what we can to eliminate them from our game.” Mike Jacobs had been leading the Triple-A Colorado Springs affiliate of the Rockies’ in home runs (23), doubles (30) and runs batted in (97). The 30-year-old first baseman did receive a 50-game suspension by Major league Baseball, should anyone elect to pick him up. In a 2005 call up by the Mets, Jacobs hit 11 home runs in 30 games. He was soon traded to Miami for Carlos Delgado before the 2006 season. Jacobs did hit 32 home runs for he Marlins in 2008 when he was traded at season’s end for Leo Nunez. He made $3.25 million playing for Kansas City in 2009, being used primarily as a designated hitter, hitting 19 home runs. He was released following the 2009 season by Kansas City. The validity of his first 80 home runs are in question for this confessed cheater who played six seasons in the major leagues, with diminishing performance based upon the statistics, earning in his big league career $5.27 million, playing with the New York Mets, Florida Marlins and Kansas City Royals.

If you did the math, the first round draft choices of 2011 received a total 0f $87,442,000, with one selected drafted-player electing not to sign. Within the 33 players selected, the Tampa Rays had three selections (most likely from losing a Type A player as described by the Basic Agreement). The real expense of these draft players are found in the first 16 selections of the 2011 draft with cost 16 teams a total of $63,611,000, BEFORE an organization spent its own professional resources in player development. There is no guarantee that the first round draft choice will develop faster in comparison to a second round draft choice — or over a third round draft choice. And the same six percent chance of making it to the big leagues still applies. The $228 million-evaluated-talent will be playing in minor league cities throughout North America mostly over at least the next five years, unless they first receive their release. And there will be a new class of draftees next year to reduce the value of the 2011 class. As time erodes all commodities, even in the real diamond business.

2014 POST SCRIPT: By next year, the superstars who received this money should be ready to make their major league debuts if the players were as good — in a way, as sexy — as the scouting directors projected. It is interesting to see how many of them make it. The Chicago White Sox selected catcher Brett Austen in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. Austen had been selected as a first round draft choice coming out of high school –when the organization thought you were good enough, but you could not believe them, when you were only 18. Rather than use an organization’s professional resources in player development, Austen elected to play college baseball at North Carolina State University. Selected in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, he signed in June 2014 for $450,000, an amount well below what he would have received as a first round draft choice. Because if you could not tear up college baseball, how would you ever make it to the big leagues now? And fewer baseball people believed you were now really good enough? And based upon your decision, you blew the chance to get the big money – however messed up a system was that paid in the beginning to the unproven this kind of money. And in Houston, the Astros have received much criticism for not signing left-handed pitcher Brady Aiken, their number one draft choice from Cathedral High School in San Diego, from the media that so often liked to have good relations with the agents representing the athlete, in contract talks. (ED NOTE: See the link about this author’s perspective of Astros general Manage Jeff Luhnow. https://baseball91.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/the-cardinal-way/ as a bit of a fraud, as he has tried to reinvent the National Past Time.)

Yes, there was a lot of money planted in baseball over the last ten years, based on raw talent. There is little reason from a statistic-basis to be paying this kind of money to the likes of Mike Jacobs. The ownership would be getting a six percent chance of return on their investment, while granting an entry visa to a young kid that might last a lifetime. And what, in these FARM SYSTEMS, was the legacy grown? How could there ever be any remorse by those in the front office about having to let these one-time prima donnas go some day when 94 per cent of the time they did not measure up. And these front office personnel who have entered the game after 1976, often themselves the recipient of the privilege of the NEW SYSTEM, were spending one billion dollars every five years on minor leaguers who had a six percent chance to get to the big leagues? (And the money given to Levi Michael and Tyler Grimes was just a crime, from the start.) Was it a wonder that the people working in the front offices today, as described in Pat Gillick’s Hall of Fame speech, with so little shared suffering, had little deep concern for guys like Mike Jacobs, who should be scorned by anyone who ever played the game professionally — like a priest might hold scorn for a colleague who tarnished his profession — and maybe little deep concern for each other. In the age of free agency, everything and everyone had become a commodity, in the seen and the unseen futures game, as the wheat was to be separated from the chaff. And along with free agency came the change in covering the games by the likes of Baseball’s Bible, The Sporting News. And now there was no right and no wrong-doing, and so little shared suffering?

OH, CONCERNING HUMAN GROWTH AND PLAYER DEVELOPMENT, Mike Jacobs is back in the game, playing in organized baseball for the Reno Aces, in the Arizona Diamondback organization. In May, the Diamondbacks named him the organization’s Player of the Month. At the time Jacobs was leading the Pacific Coast League in hits (77), doubles (24), extra-base hits (34), and total bases (131) while hitting .365, with 49 RBIs. Having been only out of the game until January 4, 2012 after the release by the Rockies, the Arizona Diamondbacks signed him to a minor league contract, recalling him on September 19, 2012. Invited to spring training in 2013 by the Seattle Mariners, he was released on March 23, 2013; Jacobs played in the Mexican League in 2013 until signing a second time with the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 4, 2013, to a minor league contract. Most fans in rooting for the home team would never know — maybe a minority would care — about the route Jacobs had taken to the majors, if he ever makes it back.
 

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7 Comments »

  1. In 117 games at Fort Myers, Levi Michael hit .246 with two homers, playing second base in 65 games and shortstop in 53 games.

    The 55th overall pick in the draft, Hudson Boyd will turn 21 on October 18, 2013. In 58 innings at Elizabethton last year, he went 2-5 with a 2.95 ERA. Boyd signed just minutes before the deadline in August before being sent to the rookie league.

    In 59 games at Elizabethton, Travis Harrison committed 24 errors, hitting .301/.383/.461 with 12 doubles, four triples and five home run. Playing third base, Travis Harrison will turn 21 on October 17, 2013.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    THE MARGIN OF ERROR: For a September 2013 update, Levi Michael hit .239 in 2013 in his second year at Fort Myer, showing very little power at the age of 22, with 43 extra base hit in 887 plate appearances. Michael missed the first part of the year with a sore throwing shoulder. “He hasn’t had much luck,” Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. The scouting director who recommended this signing bonus of $1.175 million should start to recognize that those last minute signs have some character flaws, and should also have a hard time looking the owner in the face. He thinks it is luck? He thinks what you are born into with a certain ability is luck? Like the sons of the guy who bought the team 29 years ago this month. The employees think it is luck? With so little feel for the game, luck has so little to do with the results over two seasons.

    Hudson Boyd pitched in the Midwest League this year, started 16 games and pitched 101 innings. With a record of 4-5 over 29 games, he will turn 21 in October. He is still a baby proving his worth, with only a six percent chance to make it to the big leagues.

    Third baseman Travis Harrison will also turn 21 in October. He played in the Midwest League this past season, made 26 errors in 112 game at third base while hitting .253 with 15 home runs and 59 runs batted in in 537 plate appearances. He is mostly likely playing against older competition. The totals on the board are correct: Harrison has committed 50 errors at third base in 186 games since turning pro. What do you think his confidence level is? Of these three first round draft choices, he has the best shot, if he find some softer leather for his fielding hand. Is he really a third baseman? Shouldn’t someone in the front office have figured it out by now?

    After turning pro, Tyler Grimes has made 29 errors at shortstop in 109 game which should be no surprise to anyone who scouted him in college.

    There is little margin for error for everyone once out of college. That includes the new farm director as well as the one time public relation director who got promoted to assistant general manager — maybe because he knew the president of the ball club so well who had had been the public relations director before him. And more and more the operation of the Minnesota Twins had become nothing but a public relation campaign…but who now understood the mechanics of the game? And who could criticize the president of the team? If you went back in history, to look at all the relationships, wasn’t it the club president who had placed Bill Smith in charge as the general manager who created this fiasco? Bill Smith and Rob Anthony and Dave St Peter had created this mess. And Terry Ryan was hamstrung by being surrounded by Rob Anthony and Bill Smith instead of Wayne Krivsky, Joe McIlvaine, and Larry Corrigan who were his advisers fifteen year ago.

    The problem with the operation is not the current general manager who came back to help dig the ownership out of a hole, like an old pitcher heading back to the mound after another error at third base –where a base runner never wanted to make the first or third out of the inning. Maybe Bob Pohlad would figure this baseball operation out, since his brother Jim could not — that the front office did not have the jockeys to ride all the horses in the stable. And the stable really stunk. And when you needed to restock the stable, the American breed was not hungry enough to win a World Series any more. Because the world had changed.

    Comment by baseball91 — April 9, 2013 @ 3:35 PM | Reply

  2. THAT MARGIN OF ERROR: In player development through July 2014, 2011 first round draft pick Levi Michael hurt his foot on May 8 while still playing Class A ball in Fort Myer. Michael has not shown much development since collecting his one million dollars. After more than a 75 day recovery from fouling a ball off his own foot, Michael was seen playing shortstop this week in Gulf Coast League action. Levi Michael sat out 2011 and signed at the last minute, when the rookie league season was over; he has averaged less than 62 games a year since he left the University of North Carolina — this is all he does for a living. So far, he has played a total of 35 games in 2014, in his own development as a big leaguer. The professional scout still has to wonder if he truly really was ever a big league player, despite the designer label that comes as a number one draft choice. This young man who turns 24 next February is still playing in Class A against a lot younger group of kids, while hitting over .300.

    Signed out of high school, after playing in the Midwest League in 2013, Trav Harrison has been learning to play the outfield for the Fort Myer Miracle. Harrison is hitting .292 in the last week of July.

    Signed out of high school in the supplemental first round like Harrison, Hudson Boyd is spending his second year in the Midwest League as he is apparently being developed into a closer. It was announced on July 29, 2014 that Boyd was suspended indefinitely from his Cedar Rapids team without explanation what, in violations of team rules, he had done during a road trip to Fort Wayne (Indiana), Bowling Green (Kentucky) and Dayton (Ohio). The announcement of the indefinite suspension was made from Minnesota, as if this young man was on the 25 man roster. The suspension of six days was lifted after the Twins farm director, Brad Steil, met with Boyd.

    The best draft of 2011, which seemed appreciated at the time of his signing, left-hander Corey Williams, was to undergo Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, per an announcement on March 21, 2014. He is missing the entire 2014 season.

    Unless the high-price talent makes it to the big leagues, this is never money well spent. The success is missing for this scouting director who has one player in his 2010 draft — a left-handed pitcher — pitching this year on the Triple A level at Rochester. After spending the money to sign his draft choices, there is a lack of development in the first ten rounds of his draft choices in both 2010 and 2011. After five years, something should begin to grow.

    Here is the list of the first round draft choices with the amount of money for which they signed in 2011.

    1 Pittsburgh Pirates Gerrit Cole RHP UCLA Calif. (8,000,000)
    2 Seattle Mariners Danny Hultzen LHP Virginia Va. (6,350,000)
    3 Arizona Diamondbacks Trevor Bauer RHP UCLA Calif. (3,400,000)
    4 Baltimore Orioles Dylan Bundy RHP Owasso (Okla.) HS Okla. (6,225,000)
    5 Kansas City Royals Bubba Starling OF Gardner-Edgerton HS, Gardner, Kan. Kan. (7,500,000)
    6 Washington Nationals Anthony Rendon 3B Rice Texas (6,000,000)
    7 Arizona Diamondbacks Archie Bradley RHP Broken Arrow (Okla.) HS Okla. (5,000,000)
    8 Cleveland Indians Francisco Lindor SS Montverde (Fla.) HS Fla. (2,900,000)
    9 Chicago Cubs Javier Baez SS Arlington Country Day HS, Jacksonville, Fla. (2,650,000)
    10 San Diego Padres Cory Spangenberg 2B Indian River (Fla.) JC Fla. (1,863,000)
    11 Houston Astros George Springer OF Connecticut Conn. (2,525,000)
    12 Milwaukee Brewers Taylor Jungmann RHP Texas Texas (2,525,000)
    13 New York Mets Brandon Nimmo OF East HS, Cheyenne, Wyo. Wyo. (2,525,000)
    14 Florida Marlins Jose Fernandez RHP Alonso HS, Tampa Fla. (2,000,000)
    15 Milwaukee Brewers Jed Bradley LHP Georgia Tech Ga. (2,000,000)
    16 Los Angeles Dodgers Chris Reed LHP Stanford Calif. (1,589,000)

    17 Los Angeles Angels C.J. Cron 1B Utah Utah (1,467,000)
    18 Oakland Athletics Sonny Gray RHP Vanderbilt Tenn. (1,540,000) 5,907,000
    19 Boston Red Sox Matt Barnes RHP Connecticut Conn. (1,500,000)
    20 Colorado Rockies Tyler Anderson LHP Oregon Ore. (1,400,000)
    21 Toronto Blue Jays Tyler Beede RHP Lawrence Academy, Groton, Mass.(Vanderbilt)
    22 St. Louis Cardinals Kolten Wong 2B Hawaii Hawaii (1,300,000)
    23 Washington Nationals Alex Meyer RHP Kentucky Ky. (2,000,000)
    24 Tampa Bay Rays Taylor Guerrieri RHP Spring Valley HS, Columbia, S.C. (1,600,000)
    25 San Diego Padres Joe Ross RHP Bishop O’Dowd HS, Oakland Calif. (2,750,000)
    26 Boston Red Sox Blake Swihart C Cleveland HS, Rio Rancho, N.M. (2,500,000)
    27 Cincinnati Reds Robert Stephenson RHP Alhambra HS, Martinez, Calif. (2,000,000)
    28 28 Atlanta Braves Sean Gilmartin LHP Florida State Fla. (1,134,000)
    29 San Francisco Giants Joe Panik SS St. John’s N.Y. (1,116,000)
    30 Minnesota Twins Levi Michael SS North Carolina N.C. (1,175,000)
    31 Tampa Bay Rays Mikie Mahtook OF Louisiana State La. (1,150,000)
    32 Tampa Bay Rays Jake Hager SS Sierra Vista HS, Las Vegas Nev. (963,000)
    33 Texas Rangers Kevin Matthews LHP Richmond Hill (Ga.) HS Ga. (936,000)

    Comment by baseball91 — July 24, 2014 @ 8:57 PM | Reply

  3. The John Feinstein Show featured retired Boston Globe sportswriter Bob Ryan in a discussion of the state of minor league baseball. Though his comments about scouts, minor league managers, coaches and trainers are right on, he seems behind the times when it comes to the current compensation of the drafted North American players. Of course there is a difference between signing bonuses and the salaries. At a certain point, a young player has to make the fish-or-cut bait decision.

    http://feinstein.radio.cbssports.com/2014/08/15/bob-ryan-disgrace-the-way-baseball-treats-minor-leaguers/

    Comment by baseball91 — July 25, 2015 @ 6:44 PM | Reply

  4. On May 5, 2015, Levi Michael was carted off the field with a sprained ankle after sliding into second base. At this point in late July 2015, playing at Double AA, he is hitting .245 having played in 41 games in the fifth year as a pro, in mostly a very undistinguished professional career of 317 games in the 5 seasons since that 2011 draft when he was given $86,000 above all the discussion of slots. And this is all he does for a living, though he of course skipped the entire summer year after he had been drafted. Many a younger player in the Dominican Republic are waiting for their chance, when clearly the record shows Levi Michael is clogging up someone else’s spot in the world of player development. And compare what Michael has accomplished to that of Joe Panik of the San Francisco Giants, the selection immediately prior to this Levi Michael draft. And you have had to wonder long ago how much Levi Michael wanted to play the game…. or if he ever really wanted to play the game.

    In January 2015 Hudson Boyd was suspended 50 games after testing positive for a drug of abuse, according to MLB.com. This was Boyd’s second positive test and the third time the pitcher has been disciplined by either the Major League Baseball or the Minnesota Twins. Pitching for the low Class A Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Kernels, one level below the Class A Fort Myers Miracle, Boyd was 4-4 with a 4.34 earned run average and seven saves for Cedar Rapids, in 44 games, in a season with the undisclosed violation of “team rules.” Hudson Boyd has yet to throw a pitch in the 2015 season. And you have had to wonder long ago how much he wanted to play the game, no matter how young he still is. Or if he ever really wanted to play the game.

    With 68 games in right field, Travis Harrison is hitting .239 at Double-AA Chattanooga. He is still a young man at only 22-years old.

    On July 18, 2015 the Twins announced the release of Double-AA right-hander Madison Boer, a second-round draft pick out of the University of Oregon in 2011 who had received a $405,000 bonus when he signed right away as the 87th overall pick. The draft round doesn’t add to the disappointment, General Manager Terry Ryan said. “We don’t take that into consideration when we are making personnel decisions. The round and all that stuff are out by the time you get to Double-AA. That might be something you consider when you are in A-ball or Rookie ball.”

    It is pretty hard to make chicken salad out of chicken feathers, an old farmer once said, if you did not draft and sign the chickens from the start. And the current general manager didn’t, and the director of minor league operations has these guys delivered by another department. Meanwhile, The U.S. Department of Agriculture says a survey of 81 Midwest turkey farms affected by avian flu shows that farm equipment and people likely played a role in spreading the deadly virus on commercial farms.

    mm

    Comment by baseball91 — July 25, 2015 @ 5:55 PM | Reply

  5. November 3, 2015

    The Minnesota Twins released former first round pick draft pick Hudson Boyd. That 2011 draft had three first round picks (with selections Levi Michael and Travis Harrison before Boyd) which have turned into a disappointment.

    No players have made it to the big leagues with the Twins from the 2011 draft. Levi Michael (signed for $1.175 million) is playing at the Double AA Chattanooga, hitting .211 over 32 games, while his teammate Trav Harrison (signed for $1.05 million) still carries the tag of “prospect,” hitting .286 playing right field, as of mid-May 2016.

    Along with Boyd (signed for $1 million), Madison Boer (signed for son $405,000), Matt Summers (signed for $172,000), Tyler Grimes (signed for an incredible $132,500), and Steven Gruber (signed for $125,000) have either been released or quit. Corey Williams (signed for $575,000, double the slot) came back last season after Tommy John surgery; Derek Rodriguez (signed for $130,000 out of high school) is making a transition from an outfielder to pitcher.

    Comment by baseball91 — May 19, 2016 @ 4:32 AM | Reply

  6. Did you find a desire in a Zach Granite, the 14th round draft choice who quickly signed that was missing in the top three choices of 2011? Did Zach Granite want to play the game like his 2016 teammate Levi Michael never did — per the statistics?

    After sharpening up his skills and adding to his endurance with thirteen games of winter ball at second base in Venezuela from December 4 through December 22 – a teammate of first baseman Mike Jacobs by the way (see the part above in the original blog piece) – Levi Michael spent the 2016 season at Double A Chattanooga when he played in 96 games [a fifty percent increase from 2015], with 68 hits in 316 at-bats; 55 of his hits were singles. He struck out 83 times on his way to hitting .215. With 23 base-on-balls and 12 hit-by-pitch, his on-base percentage was .293 or two points higher than his slugging percentage. And it was not his fault that he wasted all this time in professional baseball but it WAS the scout that signed him as a number one draft choice. And that scout was not alone in his input when it came to a number one draft choice which is why both Levi Michael and the scouting director should be given their unconditional release. IMMEDIATELY.

    Comment by baseball91 — October 6, 2016 @ 7:59 PM | Reply

  7. Were you there like I was last night to see Jason Wheeler make his major league debut, the only player from the 2011 draft to make it? And this mostly reflects on the scouting director who blew the Scouting Department’s entire year.

    Still out there, pretty much still a .246 hitter like his first year of professional baseball, Levi Michael now is a journeyman while still playing in Double A for Chattanooga, again. In 32 games to date, he has played 7 games at second base, 22 games in right field, and 3 games as the designated hitter. His slugging percentage is .323, pretty much still like his first year of professional baseball.

    Michael is taking up room for another prospect. Is the farm director trying to make the scouting director look good, this late in the 2011 draft?

    Comment by baseball91 — May 31, 2017 @ 9:19 AM | Reply


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