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Canes Baseball MLB signings update and 2017 look-ahead

Rounding up the Canes players and recruits who have signed MLB contracts, and looking ahead to which 2017 recruits may be high draftees next year.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Miami vs UC Santa Barbara Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Just before the MLB Draft, I wrote this piece previewing which Canes players and signees were on the radar to be drafted in the top 8 rounds. Why the top 8 rounds, you ask? Because 99.95% of players drafted in those rounds over the past 3 years sign professional contracts and leave school/skip school, depending.

Now that the draft is over, and several players have made their decisions, it’s time to recap it all.

Let’s begin.

Zack Collins drafted 10th overall by Chicago White Sox, signs deal

This one was the no-brainer. EASILY the best prospect on the team or signing class, Zack Collins has the ability to be an impact bat at the Major League level for years to come. Several mock drafts had the White Sox picking Collins 10th, and that came true on the opening night of the draft.

Due a hefty pay-day based on where he was selected, Collins cashed in by signing with the White Sox for full slot value: $3,380,600. It’s no surprise that Collins signed a deal; nearly all 1st rounders do so.

Collins could be fast tracked to the Majors, with his bat being the thing that propels him up. There’s still debate as to his position (can he stay behind the plate or will he have to move to 1B) but in any event, he’s an elite hitter who figures to be in the Majors before long, regardless of position.

Top HS recruits sign MLB contracts, too.

In my preview piece, the top 3 signees I listed who could have been picked in the top 8 rounds were LHP Jesus Luzardo, SS Colton Welker, and SS Luis Curbelo. And, as it turns out, all 3 were drafted in that range.

The best of those 3 players, LHP Jesus Luzardo was selected in the 3rd round, 94th overall by the Washington Nationals. Luzardo tore his Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) in his 5th game as a senior, and underwent Tommy John (ligament replacement) surgery. Before the injury, he was viewed as a 1st round pick. With a fastball said to touch 97MPH and devastating off-speed pitches, that makes sense.

Washington, comfortable with TJ rehabilitations and wanting to ensure Luzardo would choose to eschew his collegiate commitment, signed the talented pitcher to a deal with a $1.4M signing bonus. The slot value for the 94th pick was only $635,800, so Washington paid Luzardo more than double slot value to get him to sign. That’s one of the biggest “over slot” signings from this year’s draft, bar none.

Next on the list is Welker, a talented player and Luzardo’s HS teammate at Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS (Parkland, FL). After leading Douglas to their first-ever State Championship (hitting a cool .512 FOR THE SEASON along the way), Welker was selected in the 4th round, 110th overall by the Colorado Rockies. While he played SS in HS, Welker was listed as a 3B when drafted by the Rockies, signalling their plans to transition him to a new defensive position moving forward.

After entered his senior year as a borderline top-10 round pick, Welker blew up with his strong play and developed skills. And, once he was drafted, he wasted no time making his intentions known; Welker said on draft night that he would be signing with the Rockies. He, like Luzardo, signed for more than the slot value for his pick. Originally slated to get a $541,800 bonus, Welker signed for $850,000.

Last, but not least, of the HS signee trio is SS Luis Curbelo. A Puerto Rico native, Curbelo has great size for the position at 6’3” 185lbs. Curbelo is billed as a 5-tool player (the 5 tools are: run, hit, hit for power, field, and throw, for those wondering) and because of this, was one of the most highly coveted players in this class.

Curbelo lived up to the hype and was drafted in the 6th round, 176th overall by the Chicago White Sox. Like fellow HS draftees Luzardo and Welker, Curbelo signed for more than the slot value of his pick. Instead of the $286,700 value for the 176th pick, Curbelo signed for $700,000.

Outside of the Luzardo-Welker-Curbelo trio, the only other Canes signees who were drafted were RHP Mason Studstill and C Mike Amditis. Both were selected by the Cleveland Indians, Studstill in the 22nd round (662 overall) and Amditis in the 37th round (1112 overall).

Both Studstill and Amditis figure to pass up signing for very low $ and enroll at Miami. Amditis has already said he’ll enroll. As far as Studstill, I found this tweet enlightening:

So, what’s it take to get 3 top Canes signees to pass up their collegiate eligibility? A combined $2.95M. No big deal.

Good for those players to realize their dreams and get paid handsomely to do so. But, that takes more top level talent away from the Canes.

Other Canes drafted

Zack Collins was not the only player on the current Canes roster to be drafted. RF Willie Abreu was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 6th round, 170th overall. He recently signed for full slot value: $303,700. His career as a Miami Hurricane is officially over.

RHP Bryan Garcia was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 6th round, 175th overall. The slot value for this pick is $289,400. As of the writing of this article, Garcia has not signed with the Tigers. He may be using his final year of collegiate eligibility to leverage more money (i.e. over slot) from the Tigers.

SS Brandon Lopez was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 10th round, 303rd overall. This is the last round for which slot bonuses apply. But, as a senior who is out of eligibility, Minnesota may try to sign Lopez for a lower number, which would allow them to go “over slot” for one or more of their higher draft picks. The slot value for the 303rd pick is $156,600, but I would be shocked if Lopez signed for that amount. Look for something in the $10K range, maybe less.

Other Canes drafted were: LHP Danny Garcia (15th round, 447th overall by the Seattle Mariners), CF Jacob Heyward (18th round, 545th overall by the San Francisco Giants), and 2B Johnny Ruiz (28th round, 847th overall by the Houston Astros).

Yes, that’s Heyward listed as a CF. He’s a big athletic kid who can run, so that could be a fit. And that fit could be coming soon, if this tweet is a foreshadowing of his decision:

For Garcia, Heyward, and Ruiz, with a low signing bonus headed their way by virtue of being selected outside the top 10 rounds, the decision really comes down to whether they want to be in college or in the minors.

They could go either way, as coming back to Miami may not add value to their draft stock moving forward. My best guess: Garcia and Ruiz will back, with Heyward leaving.

2017 Signing Class

Yeah, its early, but a couple of these guys are virtually assured to never make it to campus.

Much like Luzardo was far and away the best draft prospect of the 2016 signees, 1B Alejandro Toral is the best prospect of the Canes’ 2017 class. A superstar from local Archbishop McCarthy HS, Toral is a power bat from the left side, and his ceiling is nearly unlimited. Toral isn’t the fastest player in the world, but when you can hit it a mile, there’s no need to run. He’s already listed as a top 20 draft prospect. Not top 20 HS prospect, top 20 OVERALL draft prospect in 2017, college and HS players inclusive. Perfect Game has Toral as the #1 HS player in 2017, and MaxPreps lists Toral as the #2 player in the 2017 class.

Toral has been named a 1st team underclassman All-American by Perfect Game since his freshman year. Like former Canes signee and Archbishop McCarthy alum Nick Castellanos in 2010, Toral figures top be a top 10 pick — possibly top 5 — in 2017. Simply put, he’s too good to ever play college baseball.

Another top draft prospect is Flanagan HS SS Mark Vientos. He’s a thin 6’4” athlete who could play SS, 3B, or in the OF at the next level. Some even think he could pitch. Vientos’ skills come highly regarded. Baseball America has him in the top 20 of 2017 HS players for the MLB draft, MaxPreps lists him as the #3 player in the 2017 class, and Perfect Game ranks Vientos 6th in this class.

His physical tools and defense profile better than his bat currently (Vientos himself has said he’s trying to improve his recognition and success hitting off-speed pitches), but there’s plenty of time for that to develop. Like Toral, Vientos has been a 1st team Perfect Game All-American since his freshman year. I highly doubt we ever see him wear the Canes uniform.

RHP Brandon McCabe from Boynton Beach, FL is a power arm with very good stuff. His fastball has been clocked as high as 95 MPH in games and at showcases. That, my friends, is serious cheese. Add in a good frame at 6’2” 185lbs and developing secondary pitches, and it’s easy to see why McCabe is a top prospect.

Perfect Game rates McCabe as a 10.0 prospect, and he’s listed in 2017 MLB draft prospects to watch by Baseball America. He’s up there with (or maybe even above) Toral and Vientos. Yeah, he’s never making it to campus.

RHP Robert Touron from Miami Gulliver Prep is yet another power arm with a high ceiling. His fastball has been clocked up to 93 MPH in games and showcases, and his secondary pitches are developing. He’s got a good frame at 6’2” 175lbs, and is among the most highly recruited players in the country.

Perfect Game rates Touron as a 10.0 prospect, and he’s listed in the 2017 MLB draft prospects to watch by Baseball America. Touron has good skills and a nice bat as an Outfielder, but that just tells me he’s naturally good at baseball. His future is on the mound, and there’s a good chance that he skips college and heads straight to the professional ranks in 2017.

SS Freddy Zamora from Miami Killian is a toolsy player whose glove is far more advanced than his bat, though his bat has shown improvement this year. But, don’t let that fool you: Zamora is very, incredibly good. Perfect Game gives Zamora a 9.50 grade, which is elite. MaxPreps ranks Zamora as the 17th best player in the 2017 HS class.

While players like Vientos may be higher ranked prospects based on the more advanced bat, Zamora is a player who is definitely on the radar for a top-8 round pick in 2017. The hope for Miami is that Zamora falls out of the top 10 rounds and makes his way to campus. But, with physical tools and 3 advanced skills already, that may be little more than a fantasy.

3B Raymond Gil from Miami Gulliver Prep is a good player with well-rounded skills. He’s got a high prospect grade from Perfect Game (10.0), so he’s on the radar for a top-8 round selection as well.

Gil hit a solid .356 in 2016, and continues to improve both at the plate and in the field at 3B. He’s not the prospect on the caliber of Toral or Vientos, but he could very well be an MLB pick in 2017.

RHP/1B James Marinan is a big kid (6’5” 225lbs) who plays both ways. On the hill, his fastball can touch up to 92 MPH, and his secondary pitches are developing. At the plate, he’s got good pop from the right side. I think Marinan’s future is more as a pitcher than hitter, and his power arm could play well either in the rotation or out of the bullpen. But, if he wants to play in the field as well as pitch, and shows he can succeed in both areas, then that’s even better.

According to the Perfect Game database, Miami has 20 players committed for 2017. If the Canes only lost 3 signees in 2017 like they did in 2016, that’s a HUGE win for Jim Morris’ final recruiting class (he’s already announced 2017 will be his last year at the helm).

But, looking at the list above, and allowing for the fact that several of the others on the list could skyrocket up draft boards like Welker did in 2016, I think that a reasonable expectation would be 6 or less recruits electing to sign with the MLB team that drafts them.

Baseball recruiting is, perhaps, the hardest of any sport. Not only do you have to fill holes on the roster, but you have to take into account that some of the best players in your recruiting class will never be on your team. Miami has lost some superstar caliber players in the last decade, and even more the further back you go.

Hopefully for the Canes, the majority of the #2 rated 2017 recruiting class make it to campus. But, that’s something we won’t know until NEXT July.