Hello again Canes Baseball fans.
The 2017 MLB First year player Draft was last week. The 40-round event saw more than 1200 players selected by the 30 MLB franchises.
Ahead of the draft I wrote this preview, including information about the “Danger Zone” for draftees, and profiles on the players who figured to get picked. I’ll reference that piece here, but that’s a good place for a bit more prose about the players I’ll be mentioning in a bit.
As far as the Miami Hurricanes are concerned, several players, both prep signees and current collegiate players, were selected. Let’s dive into the details
2017 Signing Deadline
This is a big deal that I have to make a note of here. The 2017 signing deadline date is JULY 7th. That’s a full 5 weeks earlier than the signing date in previous years (August 15th last year). That’s a major game changer.
For MLB teams, that means they’ll have to move fast to get drafted players to agree to terms on their bonuses. For Colleges, that means they’ll have a much shorter wait to see if their drafted players make it to campus.
How much a player will sign for — their “slot bonus” based upon their draft position —varies. Each draft selection has an assigned “slot value”, and teams can go over or under that allocation, as long as they don’t exceed their team slot pool for all their top 10 round picks. We’ll address slot bonuses for each drafted player.
SS Jeter Downs, Monsignor Pace HS, Miami, FL
Pick: Competitive Balance Round A, 32nd overall
Team: Cincinnati Reds (2nd largest bonus pool of any team)
Slot Bonus: $2,084,400
Downs was a late riser in his senior year, and skyrocketed up into the Competitive Balance Round A. He is a well-built player at 6’0” 180lbs whose bat has advanced in the past 14 months. He has good athleticism, and is thought to be able to stick at SS and not move to 3B. For those wondering, that is a BIG DEAL, as SS is a premium defensive position, and 3B is not.
The first Miami signee or player drafted, with a HUGE slot bonus number, Downs won’t make it to campus. With the Reds having the 2nd largest bonus allocation of any MLB team, Downs will sign for slot (could even get an over-slot bonus) and begin his professional career. He gone.
3B Joe Perez, Archbishop McCarthy HS, Southwest Ranches, FL
Pick: 2nd round, 53rd overall
Team: Houston Astros
Slot Bonus: $1,265,500
This is the shocker of the group. Perez was thought by many to have a higher ceiling as a pitcher, with an upper 90s fastball and plus slider as well. He profiled more as a reliever, though, not a starter — the position with more draft value. A 2-way HS player, Perez was thought to have a lower grade as a hitter than pitcher.
Until draft day.
With word that Perez wants to hit, not pitch, at the next level, the Astros took him at 53 overall, well, WELL above any projection for his draft placement as either a pitcher or hitter.
Perez underwent Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in his right (throwing) elbow on Draft day. He will begin rehab now, and figures to be ready to play sometime in the 2018 season. He could probably DH in the minors as he gets back into throwing shape to play defense. If hitting doesn’t work out, Perez could fall back on pitching down the line. But, Houston brought him in to hit, and that’s what Perez is gonna do.
3B Mark Vientos, American Heritage HS, Plantation, FL
Pick: 2nd round, 59th overall
Team: New York Mets
Slot Bonus: $1,094,700
With arguably the highest ceiling of any of the Canes signees who were drafted last week, Vientos was picked by the team that just 2 years ago took another Miami Hurricanes 3B in the MLB Draft (that being David Thompson aka Davey Baseball for those wondering).
Vientos has been compared to All-Star 3B Manny Machado for years, but that might be a bit hyperbolic. If Vientos can even be half the player Machado is, that’ll be a big win for the Mets.
One of the youngest players in the 2017 MLB draft, Vientos is just 17 years old, which is a benefit to the drafting organization. He has a ways to go with the bat, but Vientos has the power potential, size, athleticism, and defensive potential to be a very good player for the Mets organization both short and long term. His ceiling may be impacted by David Thompson in front of him, but if Vientos is able to put everything together, I’m sure the Mets will find a way to work that out.
Vientos will likely get a full or over slot bonus. He, like Downs and Perez, won’t be coming to campus.
RHP James Marinan, Park Vista HS, West Palm Beach, FL
Pick: Round 4, 130th overall
Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Slot Bonus: $401,000
This is in the range that Marinan was projected to be picked. A big 6’5” 220lb pitcher with a mid-90s fastball and plus curve, Marinan was an easy pick for the Dodgers in the 4th round.
No need belaboring this section. Marinan tweeted shortly after he was selected that he’ll be joining the Dodgers. While no signing has been announced, Marinan should get a full value slot bonus (or near to it) in the very near future.
Beyond blessed and excited for the opportunity to pursue my dream and become a LA Dodger!!!— James Marinan⚾ (@marinan_james) June 13, 2017
CF Carl Chester, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
Pick: Round 12, 349th overall
Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Miami’s starting CF for the last 2 years, Carl Chester was the highest drafted player from the roster. A 12th round pick, Chester is going to get a standard rookie bonus (only top 10 rounds have significant bonus numbers).
On Monday, InsideTheU.com reported that Chester will sign with the Rays. He will begin his professional career this month with the Rays’ advanced rookie team in West Virginia.
After being drafted in the 38th round out of HS, Chester elevated his status greatly, ending up being drafted 26 rounds higher after his junior year in college. Not bad, if you ask me.
Thanks Carl. All the best as you move to the pros.
RHP Jesse Lepore, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
Pick: Round 24, 716th overall
Team: Colorado Rockies
Like many UM Pitchers in 2017, Lepore had his struggles. But, he has good size and workable pitches, and that was enough to entice the Rockies to draft him in the 24th round.
While Chester and the prep signees drafted above him have easy decisions, Lepore’s choice won’t be so easy. Another year at Miami could elevate his draft stock slightly, but how high can he expect to go without an upper 90s fastball and/or elite performance?
Lepore was 9-0 as a midweek starter in 2016, but struggled to a 1-6 record with 4.68 ERA in 2017. Yes, Lepore took a couple really tough losses early in the year (1-0 to UF, 1-0 to Dartmouth, for example), but those were probably his best 2 outings of the year.
Lepore could choose to sign this year with the Rockies, or roll the dice on having a bounceback year and elevating his draft stock for 2018. If it were me, I’d take the money and run.
We’ll see what happens.
Well, every player on this list didn’t go undrafted. But, for our purposes, they might as well have. Each of these guys will be on campus with the Canes next year (and for the next few years, most likely), and that’s a big, BIG win for the Canes.
1B Alex Toral
Hometown: Pembroke Pines, FL
This was the biggest story through the draft cycle. Once a top-5 player in this HS class, Toral had a power outage (only 1 HR) as a senior, which had teams questioning taking him highly in the draft. Couple that with Toral being represented by Super Agent Scott Boras — notorious for his refusal to lower bonus or contract demands for his clients — and teams were very wary of drafting Toral.
With a rumored bonus demand in the $2,000,000 range (that’s top 33 draft slot money) and a plummeting draft stock, teams decided to stay away from Toral in the draft....entirely.
A decent fielder with an advanced approach at the plate and good power potential (even if that wasn’t shown in the 2017 season), Toral should be etched in stone as Miami’s 1B for the next 3 years. He’s the kind of top-end talent that Miami missed from the roster this season, and is a huge, gigantic, MASSIVE get for the Canes.
RHP Chris McMahon
Hometown: West Chester, PA
The top prep player from Pennsylvania, McMahon had a top 200 draft grade. So, it comes as a bit of a shock that he wasn’t drafted in the top 10 rounds. Unlike Toral, McMahon was drafted...in the 33rd round by the Atlanta Braves.
McMahon has good size, and plus stuff (baseball slang for “good pitches”), and should be in the Canes’ rotation in 2018. He had an 8-0 record with a 0.77 ERA as a HS senior. So, that’s good. McMahon should challenge for a weekend rotation spot, with a floor of being a mid-week starter at the least.
Like Toral, McMahon has the kind of talent that Miami sorely missed last season. He has a fastball up to 94, with 2 good secondary pitches, and a good feel for pitching. McMahon’s prospect ranking out of HS should have had him drafted in the top 3 rounds, so he has talent. Pitching Coach JD Arteaga has molded many good pitchers in his time at Miami, and McMahon has the talent to be next in that line.
Incoming signees 3B Raymond Gil and RHP Robert Touron — teammates at Miami (FL) Gulliver Prep — were both drafted in the 37th round. Those picks are little more than ceremonial, however. Expect both of them to be on campus.
Outside of that, no other Miami signees were selected in the 2017 MLB First Year Player Draft.
With Miami losing 5 guys (Downs, Perez, Vientos, Marinan, and Chester) to the MLB draft, 1 guy to transfer (speedster Jay Davison is going to a D2 school per report), and pending Lepore’s decision, the Canes could actually be considered winners of the draft for the first time in forever.
The Canes are adding a potential All-American talent in Alex Toral, a future weekend starter in Chris McMahon, and several other good pieces such as Gil, Touron, LHP Brandon Kaminer, LHP Emmanuel Fernandez, RHP Daniel Federman, OF Gabriel Rivera, and SS Freddy Zamora.
Miami will need plenty of contributions to get back to the NCAA baseball postseason, which the Canes missed for the first time in 45 years this year.
But with the incoming talent listed, and maybe a transfer or two, that will hopefully be the case.