We’ve reached the time of year of MLB Draft picks posting pictures of them signing their first professional contracts, a milestone moment for many who have worked a large portion of their lives to turn pro.
The Dodgers haven’t yet officially announced any draft signings, but through several reports — Baseball America and MLB.com chief among them — at least 13 picks have signed. That includes first-round pick Kendall George, the Texas high school outfielder who signed for a reported $1.85 million, nearly exactly the midpoint between the slot values of where the Dodgers originally planned to select him (60th overall) and where they did in fact pick him (36th overall).
The Baseball America draft signing database show’s George at $1,847,500, which brings us to a subject that comes up every year. The Dodgers have routinely used a $2,500 signing bonus contingency to reduce what their bonus counts against the bonus pool. Jim Callis at MLB.com offered a concise explanation of this practice a few days back.
The annual $2,500 @MLBDraft accounting trick explanation ... Teams can give a $2,500 signing contingency bonus to players when a contract is executed. Some give it on top of the signing bonus, some take it out of the bonus to save $ vs their pools, some don't bother with it.— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) July 17, 2023
Eriq Swan, the hard-throwing pitcher from Middle Tennessee State who the Dodgers selected just after the fourth round with the compensation pick awarded when Trea Turner signed with Philadelphia, signed for his slot value of $469,000 per both Callis at MLB.com and Carlos Collazo at Baseball America, of which $466,500 counts against the pool. Swan’s agency Frontline Athlete Management announced his signing on Instagram.
Sixth-round high school shortstop Bryan González, whose signing for $400,000 was previously reported by Carlos Rosa of El Nuevo Dia, posted a picture of him signing his deal in an Instagram story Wednesday. He also posted a picture of his locker at Camelback Ranch in an Instagram story on Monday.
The Baseball America database has the Dodgers signing second-round pick Jake Gelof, third baseman for Virginia, third-round high school pitcher Brady Smith, seventh-round Marshall pitcher Patrick Copen, and ninth-round Ball State pitcher Ryan Brown all signing for slot value.
Casey Kay at Knoxville, Tennessee ABC affiliate WATE reported Tuesday that Smith would sign on Wednesday. Smith pitched for Grainger High School in the state, and was taken with the 95th overall pick. From Kay:
“Honestly I don’t know how to explain it, it happened so fast, family and friends around and all that stuff, it was just crazy, everybody went crazy when it happened and you know just a bunch of hugs and tears from mom and dad and everything so yeah it was a dream come true,” said Smith.
Copen, the right-hander from Marshall expressed similar sentiment with Joe Brocato of Metro News in West Virginia, who reported last week that Copen would sign with the Dodgers. Copen told Brocato:
“I gained a bunch of weight and muscle in the offseason leading up to the spring. Due to that, I got an increase in velocity on my fastball. So I was throwing very hard and I didn’t really know how it happened. It just kind of happened for me. That’s when my coaches and older teammates talked to me and said, ‘Hey, your velocity you have right now as a 19-year-old is something none of us have. You can take it to the next level’.”
Tenth-round pick Sam Mongelli, a shortstop who excelled as a senior for Sacred Heart, winning Northeast Conference player of the year honors. Mongelli has plans to transfer to Auburn, where he could have played another year as a graduate transfer, but instead decided to sign with the Dodgers, which was reported last week by Ken McMillan at the Times Herald-Record.
“I’m blessed for the opportunity I’ve got,’’ Mongelli told McMillan. “I’m so thankful for the Dodgers’ organization for giving me this opportunity because it’s a once in a lifetime thing and I’ll never forget it.’’
Per Baseball America, Mongelli’s bonus counts as $47,500 against the bonus pool, which is $117,100 under his recommended slot value.
Carson Hobbs, the Dodgers’ 11th-round pick out of Samford, signed for a reported $150,000 — the maximum bonus for picks after the 10th round that doesn’t count against the bonus pool — per BA. Andrew Simonson of the Shelby County Reporter noted Wednesday that Hobbs was headed to join the Dodgers.
Hobbs was shut down in March at Samford with an undisclosed injury.
Florida State left-hander Wyatt Crowell, picked by the Dodgers in the fourth round, had Tommy John surgery in April. Crowell signed for a reported $650,000 per Baseball America, which counts as $130,700 over the recommended slot value of his pick, No. 127 overall.
Baseball America also had 13th-round Northwestern State pitcher Alex Makarewich and 19th-round Washington high school right-hander Spencer Green signing for $150,000, too.
With all the reported deals to date, only two unsigned players remain from the first 10 rounds — Texas outfielder Dylan Campbell, picked with a compensatory pick after the fourth round, and eighth-round outfielder Jaron Elkins out of Goodpasture Christian High School in Tennessee.
Elkins was listed by the Dodgers as an outfielder, but also caught and pitched in high school and was a star on the football team as well. Elkins talked with Russell Vannozzi at Main Street Preps last week:
Part of Elkins’ allure – aside from his power at the plate and speed on the base paths – is his versatility in the field. He said the Dodgers would like to see him continue to hone his skills at catcher initially.
“It’s an intriguing option when you look at his athletic ability,” [Goodpasture High School baseball coach Jim] Carter said. “An athletic catcher is a hot commodity at that level. I think the Dodgers are excited about the opportunity to develop him as a catcher, but obviously the outfield could still be an option.”
The recommended slot value for the eighth-round pick, where Elkins was selected at 250th overall, is $189,300.
With the 13 reported signings, the Dodgers are $373,600 below their slot values, with a total bonus pool of $7,274,600. Should Campbell and Elkins both sign — if a player in the first 10 rounds does not sign, the slot value of their pick is removed from a team’s bonus pool — the Dodgers still have plenty of room to maneuver.
Teams can spend up to five percent over the total bonus pool and pay a 75-percent tax on any overage. Anything beyond five percent over — which no MLB team has done since the league implemented this draft policy — would start costing future draft picks. The Dodgers thus can spend up to $7,638,330 without incurring draft pick loss.
In other words, they have $737,330 in over-slot money to potentially spend, whether it’s for Campbell, Elkins, or any bonus amount above $150,000 for picks in the 11th through 20th round.
So far, only 14th-rounder Jaxon Jelkin, a junior college outfielder, has announced his intention not sign. Instead, he’s transferring to play college baseball at Houston.
The only unsigned high school pick remaining from Day 3 is left-handed pitcher Sterling Patick out of South Hills High School in West Covina, who was drafted in the 18th round.