It's about time for an Atlanta Braves 2012 draft update. It's been three weeks since the draft ended, and the Braves have signed just about everyone they wanted to sign. With the signing this week of 7th-rounder David Starn, Atlanta has wrapped up their top ten picks. In fact, the only players who remained unsigned among the team's top-30 selections are 11th-rounder Levi Borders and 16th-rounder Fernelys Sanchez.
Borders is the son of Braves minor league instructor, and former Major League catcher, Pat Borders. Reports are that he wants to play college football, which may keep him from signing. Sanchez has reportedly already agreed to a contract with the team, and will sign as soon as his senior year of high school is over. Interestingly, he was at the center of a high school recruiting scandal this past year, in which his coach was recently cleared of all wrongdoing.
The Braves ability to sign any of their remaining players, including Craig Kimbrel's brother Matt Kimbrel, drafted in the 31st round, will hinge on how much of a bonus the team will give Sanchez. Teams are allowed to give $100,000 bonuses to players after the tenth round without penalty, and can go over that amount if the team has saved money on slot bonuses with their first ten picks. The Braves have $133,800 of additional bonus money available, based on the money they saved on bonuses for their first ten picks. This includes the large over-slot bonus they have already paid to talented high school outfielder Connor Lien, drafted in the 12th round.
The younger Kimbrel is being followed this summer by the Braves who are hopeful to finally sign "the second coming." Atlanta also drafted Matt in the 2011 draft in the 32nd round. Craig Kimbrel was also drafted twice by the Braves, first in 2007 in the 33rd round, and then a year later in the 3rd round. Matt is not quite as talented as Craig, but the Braves seem to want him just as much (just in case he is).
After Kimbrel, the last nine picks in the draft (the bottom nine) are all high school players. Many of them were highly ranked, but did not get taken in the early rounds. If there is any bonus money left over after signing Sanchez and Borders, the team may try to go after one of those bottom nine. Though there were different rules for the draft last year, they used some left over money to go after a few high school players just before the signing deadline in 2011. Jackson Laumann (31st round) and Cody Livesay (42nd round) were two high school players whom the team signed a few days before the deadline.
This year's deadline to sign drafted players is much sooner than ever before. The July 13th deadline is only two weeks away. If the team can sign Borders, then they will have wrapped up all of their top-30 picks -- an impressive haul of talent that we will be able to watch grow in the Braves system.
If the Braves need to go over their slot allotment to sign more players, they could use an additional $200,000, on which they would be taxed, but would not lose any future draft picks. Anything over that amount and they would lose draft picks next year. I don't expect Atlanta to do this based on their previous track record of staying within the established limits of the draft system.