A disappointing finish last season dropped the Dodgers to 80-82, but one of the benefits of their poor record is an improved draft pick this year. The 2011 MLB Draft is upon us, and the Dodgers pick at number 16. Last year, the Dodgers shocked the baseball world by signing their top draft pick, pitcher Zach Lee, a pick nearly everyone expected was a punt to avoid paying a heft draft bonus.
The Dodgers signed Lee to a $5.25 million bonus, spread over five seasons, well above the recommended slot bonus for the 28th pick in the draft. However, this season, with Major League Baseball overseeing the day-to-day operations of the club, and with lame duck owner Frank McCourt searching couch cushions just to make payroll twice a month, there is almost no way the Dodgers will go above slot for this year's first round pick.
For a precedent of MLB involvement, the Rangers drafted high school pitcher Matt Purke number 14 overall in 2009, and agreed to a $6 million bonus. The well-above-slot bonus was denied by MLB, who was overseeing the Rangers' finances at the time as their ownership situation under Tom Hicks was in turmoil.
Both Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus and Keith Law of ESPN projected the Dodgers to select right-handed pitcher Robert Stephenson of nearby Alhambra High School with their first round pick. Goldstein also mentions the Dodgers are interested in left-handed high school pitcher Daniel Norris from Tennessee, but Norris's bonus demands put him out of the Dodgers' price range. Jim Callis of Baseball America projected the Dodgers to select left-handed pitcher Tyler Anderson of the University of Oregon.
The MLB Draft is a three-day event, beginning Monday at 4 p.m. PDT with the first round and supplemental round on MLB Network. For more news and information on the Dodgers, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.