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Insider

Can Nationals pass on Strasburg this year and draft him and Bryce Harper in 2010?

8/13/2009

One reader e-mailed to ask the following question:

What is stopping Washington from manipulating the system, purposely not giving in to [Scott] Boras' demands for [Stephen] Strasburg, getting the No. 2 pick next year as compensation and drafting both Bryce Harper and Strasburg again, leaving Boras with no leverage at all?

One simple rule, actually. A club cannot redraft a player unless that player signs a waiver allowing the club to do so. RHP Aaron Crow and RHP Tanner Scheppers were in similar situations this past spring, and I don't believe either player signed the waiver. That prevented Pittsburgh from reselecting Scheppers with any of its picks and the Nationals from considering Crow at No. 10.

Although Strasburg has yet to sign, the movement concerning other top picks is picking up. Signings trickled in over the past week, including first-rounders Mike Minor (No. 7, Atlanta) and Chad Jenkins (No. 20, Toronto). There likely are others we just haven't heard about because Major League Baseball holds back the announcement of many deals to avoid pushing up the price on the remaining draft picks. But one American League club's assistant GM firmly believes that many of the top 50 or 100 picks already have agreed to terms. "We haven't had such luck yet, but I would not be surprised if there are 20 or 30 deals on the commissioner's desk just waiting to be signed off on," he said. "We had a deal for our [top] guy last year before the All-Star Game and didn't announce it until August."

The executive also added that he expects to see a flurry of deals announced over the weekend. "We probably won't see any of the top few names [sign deals], but any team with two high picks still not signed, they'll get their secondary guys done this weekend, if they are going to get done at all. But Strasburg, [Dustin] Ackley, [Donovan] Tate, Zach Wheeler ... I'd be surprised if we heard anything before Monday evening," he said.

Keith Law is hearing that Cincinnati and its first-round pick, RHP Mike Leake, will get a deal done, despite reports that the two sides are still far apart. Leake was the No. 8 overall selection and might benefit from Minor's over-slot pact with the Braves, which netted the left-hander $2.42 million.

Word on the street is that San Diego is closing in on a contract with No. 3 pick Tate, an outfielder from Cartersville High School (Ga.) who reported to football camp last weekend in Chapel Hill, N.C., to honor his scholarship commitment to the school. Tate left the school Wednesday to ponder the Padres' latest offer.

I was told the Kansas City Royals were thrilled to look up at their draft board and see Crow still available, since they viewed the former Missouri ace as a front-line arm with "signable" written all over him. But Law reported Wednesday that Crow is apparently balking at the club's offer of $3 million. He's not subject to the signing deadline, so these negotiations could go on for awhile. One rival club's contracts and legal representative was surprised that the Royals would bust slot by such a wide margin to sign a player with little leverage. "That's a legitimate, competitive offer, and then some," the representative said, adding that Crow is probably just playing all of his cards before signing a deal.

Industry sources close to the negotiations believe LHP Tyler Matzek is either going to break the bank or go to class in Eugene, Ore., on Sept. 29. "I don't think he was thrilled to be drafted by the Rockies, to be honest," one club's West Coast supervisor said. "But he was going to demand a very high price either way. I think he goes to school, because I don't see the Coors family spending that kind of money on a kid. I think Bill [Schmidt, Rockies scouting director] and that front office hoped he'd come down far enough to warrant the selection."

Jenkins' deal with Toronto is worth $1.359 million, right at the slot recommendation for the 20th pick in the draft, according to Major League Baseball. There are 18 first-round picks who remain unsigned.

Performance Roundup

• Left-hander Rex Brothers (No. 34, Colorado) continues to show plus stuff in relief for Tri-City, fanning nine in a 3 2/3 inning span last week. He's posted a K-BB ratio of 18-5 in 9 2/3 innings, avoiding the long ball altogether with a promising rate of ground balls.

• Los Angeles Angels first-round pick Mike Trout (No. 25) went 12-for-26 over the past seven days, including a home run, a double and two triples. He is hitting .369/.424/.541 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) with 12 extra-base hits in 27 games and has impressed the heck out of one scout. "He's the best player down here, tools wise, in terms of polish, and with what he can do on a game-to-game basis," the scout said.

• White Sox first-round pick Jared Mitchell reported to Kannapolis of the South Atlantic League, and the early returns are positive. The former LSU standout is hitting .277/.440/.415 with 19 walks and 22 whiffs in 21 games. The strikeouts are high, but he's working counts, and one opposing coach raved about his athleticism on the bases and in the field. "He looks like Mike Cameron out there sometimes. Just gliding to balls, and making the turn at second on a hit to right field."

• After hitting .300/.462/.450 in the Arizona Rookie League for a week, Seattle Mariners second-round pick Rich Poythress was sent to Double-A West Tennessee, where he's currently batting .286/.385/.286 in six games.

• The Nationals' other first-round pick, RHP Drew Storen, is making the club look good for taking him 15 spots higher than most clubs ranked him. The former Stanford closer was lights out in Hagerstown (26-0 K-BB ratio) in 11 games, so Washington challenged him with a promotion to Potomac in the Carolina League. Storen responded with 10 more strong innings and an 11-2 K-BB ratio in seven appearances, earning him yet another promotion. Storen made his debut for Double-A Harrisburg on Tuesday, predictably tossing a scoreless inning of relief.

• Los Angeles Dodgers fourth-round pick Angelo Songco, an outfielder from Loyola Marymount, shredded the rookie-level Pioneer League to the tune of a .370/.427/.767 line, including seven homers. But he's quickly been exposed in the Midwest League, where he's hitting just .167 with six extra-base hits in 25 games. Songco, a left-handed batter, has the tools to hit for power, but the concerns about his future role are centered on his lack of consistent contact rates.

• The Baltimore Sun is reporting that the Orioles have withdrawn their offer to second-round pick Mychal Givens, a RHP/SS out of Tampa, Fla. Scouting director Joe Jordan said that there was "too much ground to cover" and that "these guys have been pretty much nonresponsive. ... The bottom line is we don't have an offer on the table."

• Despite his high ERA, Cincinnati Reds eighth-rounder Brian Pearl boasts a 29-6 K-BB ratio in 18 innings, and Keith Law heard the right-hander has been up to 96 mph in the Pioneer League.

• Minnesota's Billy Bullock (No. 21) has been nasty at two stops, racking up 28 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings while issuing just five walks.

• Phillies 26th-round pick Andrew Susac, who is highly unlikely to sign in lieu of a baseball scholarship at Oregon State, has struggled for Corvallis in the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League, hitting just .225 with five extra-base hits in 25 games. But one area scout was still intrigued by Susac, saying, "He's got the arm, and some other physical strengths that could make him a much higher pick after three seasons with the Beavers."