It's not considered a real star-studded class of players, and the Bucs are in a position where their draft board is somewhat at the mercy of the teams ahead of them, hence the mantra of selecting the best player available. Given the state of the organization, an emphasis on offense and some lefty pitchers wouldn't be too surprising.
Here are some of the players who may end up in a Bucco uniform after day one:
- The latest mock draft by Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com includes these names: LHP Max Fried, Arizona State SS Deven Marrero and Mississippi State RHP Chris Stratton. The 6'4" Fried is considered the best prep lefty and committed to UCLA; Marrero is a strong glove guy with debatable hitting skills, and Stratton is the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year.
- Jim Callis of Baseball America picks these Pirate possibilities: Florida C Mike Zunino and prep OF Albert Almora, along with the popular Marrera. Zunino is considered a Jason Varitek-type player and Almora is this year's version of Josh Bell; a better defender and not quite as much pop.
- Kiley McDaniel of Baseball Prospectus reports that the Bucs are on Philly's Garnet Valley HS 3B Joe DeCarlo in the sandwich/second round. He's a power hitter who has a letter of intent with Georgia, but is under the radar because he didn't play in last summer's HS showcases, opting to participate in Connie Mack ball.
According to Taiwan Baseball: "There is speculation that Kao-Yuan IF Tzu-Wei Lin is set to receive...a seven figure signing bonus as he is reportedly receiving serious interest from the Rangers, Yankees, Indians, Red Sox, Twins, Pirates, A's, Padres, and Softbank Hawks (NPB). He's eligible to sign upon the completion of his HS career in a matter of months."
As we know, there's a new draft world following the ratification of the CBA. Each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the predetermined (by MLB) value of that club's selections in the first ten rounds of the draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the cash pool.
The Bucs were allotted $6,563,100 to spread out over the top ten rounds (including their sandwich pick for losing free agent Ryan Doumit). Anyone signed past the tenth round is limited to a $100,000 signing bonus. If that's exceeded, the extra bonus money is counted against the top ten pool. In effect, that penalizes teams that spend to their top ten cap, but is a reward for thriftier clubs that can offer higher late-round bonuses if they come in under the top ten limit.
And geez, the penalties for overspending are positively Draconian. Any team going up to 5% over its pool will be taxed at a 75% rate on the excess, which isn't too bad. But after that... A team that overspends by 5-10% gets hit with a 75% tax plus the loss of a first-round pick.
A team that goes 10-15% over its pool amount will be hit with a 100% penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overrun of 15% or more gets a 100% tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two drafts. Ouch, especially with the loss of future draft picks!
Basically, this makes college players more attractive after the first few rounds and prevents the early overpays (Josh Bell, Stetson Allie) that teams like Pittsburgh have made a basic part of their past draft strategy. One good addition is that the signing deadline has been moved up a month from August 15th to July 13th, so now teams can get their draftees into pro ball the same season that they sign .