Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 24 hours, then you know that the Astros shook up the draft yesterday when the club selected Puerto Rican SS, Carlos Correa with the top pick. Later that night, presumed top ten talent in the draft, Lance McCullers Jr., dropped to the 41st overall pick due to sign-ability concerns. The Astros were waiting with open arms as they selected him. The Stros came away with two top ten talents with their first two picks and were unanimously applauded for their selections. Correa will sign with ease as he is the top pick in the draft, however, McCullers Jr. and 4th round selection Rio Ruiz, a high school 3B from Southern California who has a firm commitment to USC, are both Scott Boras (the devil himself is pictured below) clients and may be a tough sign.
Lance McCullers Jr. is a hard throwing right-hander from Tampa, FL. He was once thought of as a possible 1.1 pick for the Astros as he has an arsenal of pitches at his disposal including a fastball that has touched 101 mph. Last night, McCullers was interviewed and had the following comments:
“That’s something we’re going to have to sit down with my family and Scott and talk over,” said McCullers when asked if he would sign with Houston or go to the University of Florida where he has a full commitment. “See where we’re at, if I want to continue my education or start my pro career.”“It’s going to have a huge impact to see what Houston’s going to do. We talked to one of their guys last night, but obviously the draft is still going on and they still have picks to make that are very important to the success of their organization. I’m sure after the draft is over, they will be in contact with me and negotiations will start to amp up a little bit.”
I actually am pretty confident that Lance McCullers Jr. will sign. There were reports earlier today that Carlos Correa will likely be signing somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 mil, two million below the slotted price. That’s money that could be used to get McCullers signed. The Stros second and third round picks were Nolan Fontana, a shortstop from the University of Florida who some have lauded as the best defensive shortstop in this draft and Brady Rogers, a Houston native and the ace RHP for the Arizona State Sun Devils. Both should sign for slot and do not project to have any issues with sign-ability.
A report was making the rounds earlier that Rio Ruiz and his father have already told teams that they will not sign for anything less than top ten money. If that’s true, then the Astros will need to get creative if they plan on signing him. One question I was asking myself was if Luhnow plans on pitting Boras vs Boras for the top money between his two clients? Both McCullers Jr. and Ruiz will be first round picks if they chose to go to college and play well. They both have a ton of talent and will both use that as a negotiating factor. Ruiz also signed a letter of intent to play college ball at USC, when he was 14!!
I’m gonna go out on a limb and predict that the Astros, specifically Jeff Luhnow, will find a way to get all of their top picks signed, including both Lance McCullers Jr. and Rio Ruiz. Jeff Luhnow is a guy who has let it be known that the draft and player development is his bread and butter. I just can’t see him wasting these premium picks on guys he does not feel he will be able to sign. If you don’t sign your first round pick, you get it back the next year, but if you fail to sign a supplemental round pick or any other round pick, you do not get it back and you cannot use the money allotted for said pick towards any other pick. In other words, if say, Rio Ruiz, decides to go to USC, we will not receive a fourth round pick in next years draft as compensation nor will we be able to use the money for that pick (somewhere in the neighborhood of $800k) towards another pick. I have faith and the utmost confidence in Jeff Luhnow and believe he will get these deals done.