The signing deadline for the 2011 draft is less than a week away, and yet 16 of this year's first 20 picks have yet to put their name on the dotted line. This isn't a cause for concern as much as it's the new way of doing things.
While moving the deadline to two months after the draft has eliminated the year-long holdout gambit, it certainly has led to more waiting by players, as it has been proven over recent years that the players who wait are the players who get paid.
There are plenty of teams that have yet to even start real negotiations with their top pick, and while they understand the tactic of wait, there is frustration with the delays produced in the player's development.
"I don't blame them at all for waiting," said one American League executive. "The problem is that the players we have signed are out there, not only playing, but getting adjusted to the rigors of professional baseball. All of that stuff is out of the way come next spring, leaving the late signers behind."
There are signed players who are taking advantage of their more lengthy pro debuts, and here is a team of 2011 draftees already making a mark:
Catcher: Neftali Rosario, Chicago Cubs
A sixth-round pick out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Rosario's $150,000 bonus is one of the biggest in the round. The 18-year-old has lived up to expectations by showing excellent receiving skills with a plus arm while surprising with his bat, hitting .340/.375/.566 in limited action for the Cubs complex team in Arizona.
He might not be ready for a full-season assignment in 2012, but this summer's performance gives him a better chance to do so.
Big names unsigned: Boston Red Sox first-rounder Blake Swihart has above-average potential both at and behind the plate, while the San Diego Padres have a pair of backstops to sign in supplemental first-round pick Brett Austin and second-rounder Austin Hedges. Hedges is a potentially special defender.