Dave Van Horn probably won’t be getting much sleep over the next few days — and understandably so. The 2023 MLB Draft could pick apart the historic signing class he assembled for Arkansas baseball.
About two-thirds of the Razorbacks’ signees, not to mention several current players and even a transfer portal commit, are among the top prospects in the 20-round, three-day event that begins Sunday night in Seattle as part of the All-Star Week festivities.
Compiling arguably the best class in Perfect Game history — with a record 13 top-100 recruits — always came with the risk of many signing professionally out of high school and never stepping foot on campus, but Van Horn and his staff are hopeful that they can at least get some to Fayetteville.
While history says a handful of them should play for the Razorbacks, as 57 of Perfect Game’s top-100 recruits made it to school last year, pinning down exactly which ones is a bit tricky and Van Horn admitted he didn’t even know which would make it through.
“We are talking with them, trying to figure out what kind of money they’re going to demand to sign and what they’re really thinking,” Van Horn told reporters last month. “Do they really want to go to school? Having all those conversations. It’s just what you do.”
Two of the Razorbacks’ signees — third baseman Aidan Miller and shortstop Walker Martin — are potential first-round picks and another two — shortstop Nazzan Zanetello and outfielder Kendall George — could hear their name called on Day 1.
They are among seven signees ranked among the top 100 overall prospects by at least one of the several prospect rankings examined by Best of Arkansas Sports. Another six are ranked in the top 200 of at least one of them.
In June, Van Horn sounded more confident about several of his heralded pitchers getting to campus than his position players, about whom he said he is just hopeful they can sneak one of them through the draft.
“Pitching-wise, with the high school kids, we’re going to get some of these guys,” Van Horn said. “We may lose a couple, but we’re going to get a lot of those guys through and there’s going to be a really good pitching class.
“The position players, it might be a little more difficult to get some of these high-end hitters unfortunately. But we’re doing everything we can to figure it out.”
The status of those players may be the biggest storyline for Arkansas baseball when it comes to the 2023 MLB Draft, but at least four underclassmen are also expected to be high picks.
Outfielder Jace Bohrofen headlines that group, as he’s nearly a unanimous top-100 prospect, but fellow outfielder Tavian Josenberger, right-hander Jaxon Wiggins and left-hander Hunter Hollan are each projected to go in the top five rounds, as well.
The Razorbacks’ most likely senior to get picked is outfielder Jared Wegner, while the biggest question among current players is whether Caleb Cali will get drafted and sign or return for his senior year in 2024.
Five of the seven players Arkansas has landed in the transfer portal are technically draft eligible, as is its lone JUCO signee, but only one — right-hander Craig Yoho from Indiana — is considered a draft risk.
All of those players and the signees are covered below. We’ve also included the full schedule of the 2023 MLB Draft, as well as a refresher on how the draft works and some key statistics about the event to keep in mind.
Follow along here for live updates from the 2023 MLB Draft, complete with every SEC-related pick:
How to Watch the 2023 MLB Draft
Day 1 — Sunday, July 9 — 6 p.m. CT (ESPN, MLB Network)
Day 2 — Monday, July 10 — 1 p.m. CT (MLB.com)
Day 3 — Tuesday, July 11 — 1 p.m. CT (MLB.com)
The first day of the draft consists of the top two rounds, including the “sandwich” picks, followed by Rounds 3-10 on the second day and finally Rounds 11-20 on the third day.
There will be 70 players taken on Day 1, another 244 taken on Day 2 and then 300 on Day 3, for a grand total of 614 draft picks.
(NOTE: The prospect rankings listed for each player come from a top-100 list by The Athletic, top-100 list by The Sporting News, top-250 list by MLB Pipeline, top-300 list by ESPN, top-500 list by Baseball America, top-500 list by Prospects Live, top-614 list by Future Star Series.)
Arkansas Baseball Signees to Watch
The Razorbacks signed 21 high school players and one junior college player in their 2023 class. Only a handful of them aren’t seen as draft prospects.
Not included below are left-hander Tucker Holland and catcher/first baseman Ty Waid, who are ranked on a couple of those lists, but are pretty far down. A product of North Carolina, Holland did check in at No. 287 on ESPN, while also appearing on Prospects Live (No. 368) and Future Star Series (No. 406). Those latter two are the only lists on which Waid, a Texarkana native, appears — at No. 474 and No. 548, respectively.
3B — Aidan Miller — Trinity, Fla. (J.W. Mitchell HS)
MLB Pipeline: 13 | Future Star Series: 18 | The Athletic: 19 | Baseball America: 20 | The Sporting News: 20 | Prospects Live: 22 | ESPN: 24
Ever since he committed to Arkansas in October 2020, it was widely known that Aidan Miller almost certainly wouldn’t make it to campus. Once viewed as a potential top-10 pick, his stock has slipped some, but not nearly as much as Jayson Jones last year. He’s still a unanimous top-25 prospect and projected first-round pick.
Miller used to be a shortstop, but has grown into a third baseman and could possibly move to first base in the future. That could be seen as a negative, but he has a bat that profiles well with those positions. It didn’t help that a broken hamate bone in his hand caused him to miss most of his senior season, plus his age – he turned 19 in June – could be seen as a knock by some teams that value that, but he’s still the same guy who was the High School All-American Game MVP and Home Run Derby champion at Dodger Stadium last July.
About the only thing working in Arkansas’ favor is that he’d be a draft-eligible sophomore in 2025, meaning he could just play two collegiate seasons, but as CBS Sports’ R.J. Anderson wrote recently, “Don’t bet on him making it to campus.”
Keith Law’s latest mock draft for The Athletic has him going to the Mariners at No. 22 overall, but also mentions that a “very impressive workout” in Chicago has generated “a lot of talk” about the Cubs possibly taking him with the 13th pick. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel has Miller slipping all the way to No. 38 to the Reds, the same team that drafted his older brother in the second round three years ago.
Even if that happens, he’d still be in line for a signing bonus north of $2.2 million and potentially pushing $5 million.
(UPDATE: In MLB Pipeline’s final mock draft, Jim Callis has Miller going 25th overall to the Padres, while Jonathan Mayo has him going 29th to the Mariners. The Sporting News projects him to the Cardinals at No. 21.)
SS — Walker Martin — Eaton, Colo. (Eaton HS)
Future Star Series: 21 | Baseball America: 24 | ESPN: 26 | MLB Pipeline: 30 | Prospects Live: 30 | The Sporting News: 37 | The Athletic: 77
A three-sport star at Eaton High, Walker Martin won three straight state titles in football (as a quarterback) and baseball, but his future is on the diamond. He was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for Colorado and is a near lock to become the first prep position player from the state taken in the top five rounds since 2011, when the Yankees took Greg Bird – coincidentally, another Arkansas signee – in the fifth round.
Martin led the country with 20 home runs and hit .633 with 75 RBIs while leading the Reds to a perfect 29-0 season. There are concerns about his level of competition, though, and he turned 19 back in February, making him very old for his class.
He was still relatively unknown because of where he’s from and his duties playing other sports until showing out at the Area Code Games last year, which helped him climb draft boards and will likely help him join the likes of Brett Baty, Bobby Witt Jr. and Jordan Lawlar as “old” first-round picks – but some may still write him off.
“Teams have become increasingly concerned with age in recent years, with some true believers stopping just shy of checking 19-year-old prep players into a leprosarium,” wrote Anderson for CBS Sports.
There has been some buzz that the Giants are interested in him, possibly with the 16th overall pick – where he’s projected by ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel – or at No. 52, which is what Keith Law wrote was more likely. Either way, Martin could be looking at a seven-figure signing bonus. That would be hard to turn down, despite going public with his excitement about playing for Arkansas baseball.
(UPDATE: In MLB Pipeline’s final mock draft, Jonathan Mayo has Martin going 24th overall to the Braves, while Jim Callis has him slipping down to the Tigers at No. 37. The Sporting News has Marting going 44th to the Royals.)
SS — Nazzan Zanetello — Florissant, Mo. (Christian Brothers College HS)
The Athletic: 33 | The Sporting News: 49 | Future Star Series: 51 | MLB Pipeline: 52 | Prospects Live: 54 | ESPN: 64 | Baseball America: 111
Nazzan Zanetello has shot up draft boards over the past year, taking home MVP honors at the Breakthrough Series last June and following it up with strong showings in the PDP League, at the WWBA World Championship and with Team USA.
His best attribute is his athleticism, but “scouts are split on how his tools translate to baseball,” according to ESPN. However, that is also why there is optimism that he projects as a future star – whether he sticks at shortstop or slides over to third base or even ends up in center field.
“The bet here is that his athleticism will allow him to stay with better and better pitching as he moves up the ladder, and to make adjustments at the plate and in the field, because right now his physical tools are ahead of his baseball ones, like hit or power,” wrote Keith Law for The Athletic.
Law didn’t include Zanetello in his latest first-round mock draft, but did list him as a possible sandwich or early second-round pick. It’s also worth noting that he is one of seven players attending the MLB Draft in person, so that’s a pretty good indication of what he plans to do when he is picked.
(UPDATE: In a three-round mock draft by The Sporting News, Zanetello is the fourth player taken in the third round, going to the Reds at 74th overall.)
OF — Kendall George — Humble, Texas (Atascocita HS)
ESPN: 52 | Future Star Series: 57 | Prospects Live: 59 | MLB Pipeline: 65 | The Sporting News: 99 | Baseball America: 115
Kendall George is the fastest high school player in the 2023 draft class, with some scouts joking he has 90 speed on the typical 20-80 scale they use to grade tools. He’s also a plus defender in center field, leading to him being compared to Vanderbilt’s Enrique Bradfield.
There are question marks with his arm and power, but he did reach 10 of 18 trips to the plate and stole five bases as the starting center fielder for the Team USA squad that won the 18U World Cup.
According to ESPN, there are “lots of interested clubs in the second round,” with Kiley McDaniel projecting him to go 62nd overall to the Guardians, which is in “Competitive Balance Round B.”
LHP — Adam Hachman — Wentzville, Mo. (Timberland HS)
Baseball America: 95 | MLB Pipeline: 101 | Future Star Series: 134 | ESPN: 151 | Prospects Live: 151
There was a point not too long ago that Adam Hachman was seen as a potential first-round pick. Armed with a fastball that has touched triple digits, he had nine strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings for Team USA.
However, he’s got an injury history. He missed most of his junior season, returned and eventually needed Tommy John surgery this spring, wiping out his senior year.
Dave Van Horn referenced him during a Swatter’s Club meeting this year, telling the crowd that the surgery might help him get to campus. He won’t be able to pitch in 2024, but could be a big piece of the staff in 2025 and 2026.
Of course Tommy John alone might not be enough to get Hachman to Fayetteville. Last year, Cole Phillips had the surgery around the same time and still got picked in the second round, receiving a bonus of nearly $1.5 million — well over slot value.
Another thing working in Arkansas’ favor is that Hachman was inconsistent with his secondary pitches. He could really benefit from coming to school, where he can hone his control and get his mechanics in order before potentially climbing into the first round.
(UPDATE: According to Baseball America, Adam Hachman has withdrawn his name from the 2023 MLB Draft and will join the Arkansas baseball program.)
RHP — Barrett Kent — Pottsboro, Texas (Pottsboro HS)
Prospects Live: 75 | Future Star Series: 80 | Baseball America: 105 | MLB Pipeline: 126 | ESPN: 145
A strong showing in the PDP League last summer earned Barrett Kent an invitation to try out for Team USA and also shot him up draft boards. He entered the spring with a lot of buzz, but didn’t quite progress as much as scouts had hoped.
Although he touched 97 mph during his senior season, Kent struggled to maintain his velocity and his secondary pitches lacked consistency. MLB Pipeline described him as a “work in progress” who needs time to develop and could really benefit from added strength.
That may sound like splitting hairs with someone so talented, but betting on himself and making strides in those areas at Arkansas could double his signing bonus when he comes out in the 2026 MLB Draft.
LHP — Colin Fisher — Noble, Okla. (Noble HS)
MLB Pipeline: 139 | Baseball America: 156 | ESPN: 243 | Future Star Series: 358
A three-year starter at quarterback for his small Oklahoma hometown, Colin Fisher moved up draft boards with a strong senior season in which his velocity ticked up 2-3 mph.
He now sits 88-93 mph, which isn’t as elite as some of the other Arkansas signees, but he also has a really good curveball that he can both throw over the plate for strikes or generate swings and misses. Fisher’s command being where it is already, combined with him being a lefty and from a small town with untapped potential, makes him an intriguing draft prospect.
LHP — Hunter Dietz — Trinity, Fla. (Calvary Christian HS)
MLB Pipeline: 141 | Baseball America: 200 | ESPN: 223 | Prospects Live: 232 | Future Star Series: 365
Blessed with a 6-foot-6 frame, Hunter Dietz’s velocity sits in the low-90s and throws a slider that can be an out pitch. He also repeats his delivery and arm slot, which helps him with his command and allows him to use both sides of the plate.
He originally committed to play with his brother at South Florida, but reopened his recruitment and eventually picked Arkansas over Ole Miss in December, making him an unusually late addition to the 2023 class.
Whether or not he makes it to campus remains to be seen, but Dietz didn’t progress quite as much as scouts had hoped this spring. That could lead him to college, but at the same time, 6-foot-6 lefties already touching 94 mph with untapped potential in the velocity department don’t grow on trees.
RHP — Gabe Gaeckle — Aptos, Calif. (Aptos HS)
Baseball America: 102 | MLB Pipeline: 159 | Future Star Series: 240 | ESPN: 259 | Prospects Live: 340
Previously committed to UCLA, Gabe Gaeckle flipped to Arkansas in August, making him another late addition to the 2023 class.
His sheer stuff — a fastball that’s been up to 95 mph and a curveball with high spin rates — and a strong showing last summer would normally make him a slam-dunk draft pick, but scouts might be scared off some by the fact that he had Tommy John surgery when he was 15.
(UPDATE: The Sporting News projects Gaeckle to go 80th overall to the Diamondbacks in the third round of its latest mock draft.)
RHP — Dylan Questad — Waterford, Wisc. (Waterford Union HS)
Baseball America: 96 | MLB Pipeline: 194 | Prospects Live: 309 | Future Star Series: 405
The Gatorade Player of the Year in Wisconsin, Dylan Questad didn’t allow a single earned run and racked up 69 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings as a senior. His fastball has been up to 97 mph, but could improve the command of his secondary pitches.
The general consensus is that he profiles more as a reliever at the next level, which is something he could change if he comes to Arkansas.
“His arm works well but to succeed as a starter at higher levels, he’ll need to improve the quality of his secondary pitches and his ability to locate them where he wants,” according to his scouting report on MLB Pipeline. “He has had more of a reliever look in 2023, which could land him in college as part of Arkansas’ top-rated recruiting class.”
C — Ryder Helfrick — Discovery Bay, Calif. (Clayton Valley Charter HS)
Baseball America: 145 | MLB Pipeline: 205 | Prospects Live: 231 | ESPN: 262 | Future Star Series: 325
The Razorbacks landed heralded 2024 MLB Draft prospect Hudson White from Texas Tech via the transfer portal, but he was a part-time starter behind the plate for the Red Raiders and has struggled defensively both in the Big 12 and Cape Cod League.
They do plan to return Parker Rowland — and neither Hudson Polk nor Cal Kilgore have entered the portal — but getting Ryder Helfrick to campus would be huge. He was the MVP of the Perfect Game All-American Classic and is one of the top prep catchers in the country.
Helfrick has plenty of raw arm strength and athleticism, but could still clean up his throwing mechanics, which would help his accuracy on throws to second. That is something Arkansas has proven to be good at, doing so with Rowland and Michael Turner the last two years. All things considered, MLB Pipeline writes that some believe he’ll “likely” end up in Fayetteville.
SS — Nolan Souza — Honolulu, Hawaii (Punahou HS)
ESPN: 161 | MLB Pipeline: 222 | Prospects Live: 271 | Baseball America: 290 | Future Star Series: 395
Consistently ranked the lowest among Arkansas’ touted infielder signees, Nolan Souza hails from Hawaii — the same state that produced second baseman Rick Nomura a few years back. In fact, Nomura and his father coached Souza in summer ball. The Razorbacks have also landed shortstop Wehiwa Aloy from Sacramento State, so Souza wouldn’t even be the only Hawaii native on the team in 2024 if he makes it to campus.
That seems to be the most likely scenario, as there are some swing-and-miss concerns with Souza offensively. Also, despite his athleticism, scouts aren’t sold on him being able to stick at shortstop. He could end up moving to second or third base.
RHP — Tate McGuire — Kansas City, Mo. (Liberty North HS)
MLB Pipeline: 183 | Future Star Series: 348
After leading Liberty North to a second straight Class 6 state title and allowing only two earned runs in 59 2/3 innings, Tate McGuire earned Gatorade Player of the Year honors for Missouri.
He had a 19-strikeout one-hitter in May and has been up to 96 mph, but could improve his delivery. Not many prospect rankings include McGuire, so it seems like he has a better chance of making it to Arkansas.
Arkansas Baseball Transfers to Watch
Of the seven players who’ve committed to Arkansas baseball out of the transfer portal, only shortstop Wehiwa Aloy (Sacramento State) and catcher Hudson White (Texas Tech) aren’t eligible for the 2023 MLB Draft. It’s worth noting that White would have been in previous years, as he turns 21 within 45 days of the draft — similar to Cayden Wallace last year — but MLB’s new CBA changed the cutoff date to Aug. 1 and White’s birthday is Aug. 9.
The other five transfers could technically hear their name called, but outfielders Ty Wilmsmeyer and Ross Lovich from Missouri, left-hander Stone Hewlett from Kansas and utility man Jack Wagner from Tarleton State aren’t viewed as draft risks — similar to Jared Wegner last offseason. That leaves only…
RHP — Craig Yoho — Indiana
ESPN: 295 | Future Star Series: 297 | Prospects Live: 352
Although he’s not ranked particularly high, Craig Yoho is a very unique case. He was a fifth-year senior in 2023, but earned Freshman All-America honors from Collegiate baseball because it was his first full season after two Tommy John surgeries, a knee surgery and the pandemic wiped out his first four seasons.
A converted position player, Yoho put up good numbers as a reliever for the Hoosiers and displayed really good stuff. Not only is his fastball in the mid-90s, but he has a ton of movement on his pitches — enough to catch the attention of pro scouts.
He technically has three years of eligibility remaining and would still have leverage from that standpoint if he came to Arkansas, but he turns 24 in October, which is almost ancient in the MLB Draft world. Every additional year he plays college baseball, it will only hurt his draft stock — especially when you throw in his injury history.
Yoho was also honest about his desires, saying he owed it to himself to give pro ball a chance if the right opportunity presented itself. It’s shaping up to be very similar to South Carolina transfer Julian Bosnic, who committed to Arkansas last year, but never made it to campus because he signed as a 14th-round pick.
Current Arkansas Baseball Players to Watch
Underclassmen in the MLB Draft
Jace Bohrofen — OF
ESPN: 59 | MLB Pipeline: 66 | The Sporting News: 71 | Jace Bohrofen: 72 | The Athletic: 74 | Future Star Series: 89 | Baseball America: 107
Ranked as the No. 33 overall recruit in the Class of 2020 by Perfect Game, Jace Bohrofen has been known by scouts for a while, but it wasn’t until this year that he finally delivered.
After a lackluster year at Oklahoma, he transferred to Arkansas and injuries eventually relegated him to a backup role his first year in Fayetteville. Bohrofen broke out and was arguably the Razorbacks’ best hitter for much of 2023, slashing .318/.436/.612 with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs while starting at all three outfield positions.
“He tried to do too much in his lone season with the Sooners, but since has learned to let his plus raw power come naturally,” his scouting report on MLB Pipeline reads. “He has developed a more discerning eye at the plate and his prodigious strength leads to high exit velocities, though his propensity to swing and miss in the strike zone concerns some clubs.”
ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, who wrote that he could be a “low-end everyday right fielder,” projects him to go 56th overall to the Mets in his latest mock draft. That’d make him a second-round pick, marking the 14th straight year the Razorbacks have had at least one player taken in the first three rounds of the MLB Draft.
(UPDATE: In latest mock draft from The Sporting News, Bohrofen is projected to go to the Giants at No. 85 overall.)
Hunter Hollan — LHP
The Athletic: 81 | MLB Pipeline: 100 | Baseball America: 146 | ESPN: 150 | Prospects Live: 150 | Future Star Series: 169
Shortly after the season, Hunter Hollan indicated he might return to Arkansas for his senior season. When Dave Van Horn was asked about that possibility, though, he laughed and said he expected him to sign professionally.
That’s not particularly surprising because he could go as high as the third round as a “pitchability left-hander.” While he has shown some velocity, what makes Hollan such an enticing prospect is his command of a four-pitch mix.
That was on display for much of 2023, until a knee injury that eventually required a minor offseason procedure negatively impacted his performance. He finished with a 4.13 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 80 2/3 innings.
(UPDATE: The Sporting News actually has Hollan being the first Arkansas baseball player taken in the 2023 MLB Draft, slotting him 79th overall to the Angels.)
Jaxon Wiggins — RHP
Baseball America: 86 | The Athletic: 93 | The Sporting News: 98 | MLB Pipeline: 103 | ESPN: 115 | Prospects Live: 219 | Future Star Series: 276
Based on how he looked during fall ball, Jaxon Wiggins appeared to be on the verge of a breakout season that could vault him into the first round. Unfortunately, he tore his UCL and needed Tommy John surgery just before the start of the season.
Pitching in 2023 would have given Wiggins, who’s always had electric stuff and velocity that flirts with triple digits, a chance to answer the biggest question surrounding his potential at the next level — his command/control. Even before doing that, he was likely going to be taken in the top two rounds before having Tommy John, according to The Athletic.
Instead, he’s likely to slip some, but should still go in the top five rounds. It’s unlikely that Wiggins would return to Arkansas to try to improve his draft stock because the timing of his injury would make that almost impossible. He’d be getting cleared to throw around the time the season starts and then it’d take some time for him to build back up to where he was when he got hurt.
Tavian Josenberger — OF
Future Star Series: 97 | ESPN: 122 | Prospects Live: 125 | MLB Pipeline: 156 | Baseball America: 248
When he transferred in from Kansas, Tavian Josenberger was coming off a back injury that hampered him as a sophomore and he made the switch back to center field after playing second base in 2022. Getting healthy and that position change proved to do wonders for his draft stock.
He’s known for being a contact hitter with good speed, which also helps him as a plus defender in center, but Josenberger even added some power to his repertoire at Arkansas. After hitting just three home runs in 480 plate appearances over two years with the Jayhawks, he hit 10 long balls in 241 plate appearances with the Razorbacks. That was part of a .287/.414/.490 slash line, not to mention 13 stolen bases.
With a season like that, Josenberger likely played his way into the top five rounds of the 2023 MLB Draft.
Caleb Cali — 3B
Despite hitting .340 with six home runs and 25 RBIs in 25 SEC games this season, Caleb Cali is generating essentially no draft buzz. He showcased an improved glove at third base as the year progressed and he regularly used all fields with triple-digit exit velocities at the plate.
Dave Van Horn mentioned that there was a good chance he’d return for his senior season in 2024, but he also made the same comment about Connor Noland last year. Whether it intended to be or not, that proved to be a negotiating tactic that landed Noland an above-slot signing bonus in the ninth round.
That could be the case with Cali, as he’d lose all leverage and get a drastically smaller bonus next year, but he isn’t listed on any of the prospect rankings examined by Best of Arkansas Sports. Noland was ranked in at least a handful last year.
Seniors Out of Eligibility
While they were listed as seniors on last year’s roster, left-hander Zack Morris is expected to return as a super senior and right-hander Koty Frank is expected to get a medical redshirt for 2023 and play again next year. Another pitcher, right-hander Will McEntire, has been on campus four years, but was a redshirt junior and is expected to return, as well.
Of the three Razorbacks who actually exhausted their eligibility last season, shortstop John Bolton is the least likely to get a chance at the next level. First baseman Brady Slavens had a solid college career and could get a look – either as a draft pick or undrafted free agent – but he has an injury history that might scare teams off. The most likely to get picked is…
Jared Wegner — OF
Future Star Series: 167 | Prospects Live: 210 | Baseball America: 312
After a breakout season at Creighton in 2022, Jared Wegner entered the transfer portal and landed at Arkansas. He missed a chunk of the season with a broken thumb and struggled upon his return, but was one of the Razorbacks’ top hitters pre-injury.
Even including that rough stretch at the end of the year, Wegner slashed .313/.457/.673 with 15 home runs and 51 RBIs in 42 games. That kind of production in the SEC grabbed the attention of scouts and will likely get him drafted.
As a college player with no remaining eligibility, though, Wegner won’t have any leverage in contract negotiations and will probably get a small signing bonus. The flip side is that makes him a perfect candidate to get drafted somewhere in Rounds 7-10, when teams are looking for players they can sign for well under slot value to save money for earlier picks.
What to Know About the MLB Draft
Traditionally a 40-round event, the MLB Draft has been permanently shortened to 20 rounds, which was its length the last two years.
The MLB Draft is not as straightforward as its counterparts in the NFL and NBA. In addition to making selections based on merit, teams have to consider each player’s “signability” — how likely he is to sign a professional contract.
High school and junior college prospects can choose to honor their commitments and college players with remaining eligibility can return to school if they don’t receive their desired signing bonus, giving them leverage in contract negotiations. Seniors do not have that advantage, leading to significantly smaller bonuses.
In 2012, a new wrinkle was introduced to the draft: slot values and bonus pools. Each pick in the top 10 rounds is assigned a recommended signing bonus amount – or slot value – with teams being allowed to spend up to the combined value of their top-10 round picks’ slot values – or bonus pool.
Players selected in the 11th round and beyond can receive signing bonuses up to $150,000 (previously $125,000) before it factors into the equation, with the excess counting toward the bonus pool. The signing deadline is July 25 this year.
If a team does not sign a player taken in the first 10 rounds, it loses that pick’s slot value from its bonus pool. That is why it’s rare for teams not to sign their early draftees, especially those with seven-figure slot values.
In the two years of the 20-round draft era, only six of 628 players (0.96%) taken in the top 10 rounds failed to sign. It becomes more likely that players don’t sign in the back half of the draft — 7.3% in rounds 11-15 and 24% in rounds 16-20.
More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS…