Now that the Arizona State baseball season has come to an end, it is time to look forward to the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft. The ASU baseball program prides itself on being considered #MLBU, with over 100 former Sun Devils having played in the Majors.
Nine Sun Devils were drafted in 2015, which was tied for the third most of any team in the nation. With the 2016 draft beginning Thursday night and continuing through Saturday, we take a look at which Sun Devils might hear their name called.
The Sun Devils have four seniors on the 2016 roster. MLB teams like drafting college seniors because they have no negotiating leverage and often sign below the recommended slot value. Of the four ASU seniors, RJ Ybarra and Jordan Aboites have the best chance of getting drafted.
Ybarra played in the Cape Cod Baseball league in 2014 but has seen his production diminish since Tracy Smith became head coach.
The other problem facing Ybarra is he does not have a set position, having played catcher, first base and designated hitter the last four years at ASU. However, he has power and that might be enough for a team to take a flyer on him in the later rounds.
Aboites showed he can compete on the mound and was actually ASU's best pitcher during the course of the final three weeks of the season. Aboites also plays infield, however he hit under .200 this season. Aboites has also expressed interest in earning his Masters degree and potentially getting into coaching.
Before we get to the ASU players, let's go over how the draft process works. MLB assigns each team with a bonus pool they can dole out among their draftees. Each pick also comes with a recommended value that teams can either offer below or above if they wish.
Players who get drafted after their junior year of college have some leverage in bonus negotiations because they still have one year of eligibility. They could go back to school and get drafted next year if they don't receive an offer they like.
As a rule of thumb, most juniors selected in the first 15-20 rounds sign with the team that drafts them. They do that, mostly because if they get drafted after their senior season, they almost have to take the first offer the receive if they want to play in that organization.
The Sun Devils have nine juniors on their roster, with the top draft prospects being shortstop Colby Woodmansee, catcher Brian Serven and right-handed pitcher Hever Bueno.
Woodmansee is most likely to hear his name called first as he is projected to be selected inside of the top-5 rounds. Some project Woody to be a third baseman because of his size but he has shown the range and the arm strength to stay at short.
Serven is one of the best defensive catchers in the nation and was ASU's best hitter in the postseason. This is considered a strong crop of collegiate catchers at the top, so Serven might fall a bit but should be picked inside of the first 10 rounds and potentially inside the first five.
Two interesting cases will be Bueno and fellow right hander Seth Martinez. The two could not have had more oposite seasons as Martinez settled into the Friday night roll and was one of the top pitchers in the Pac-12 while Bueno only appeared in two games because of an injury.
That being said, Bueno's stuff had scouts buzzing during the fall and early in the season. He sits in the mid-90's with his fastball and has a enough good slider which will make him at the very least a bullpen option for a team. Bueno could go as early as the second or third round or potentially slide a bit due to the injury.
Martinez will barely touch 90 mph but he just knows how to pitch and get guys out. However, just because you put up good numbers in college does not mean you will be drafted high. Scouts look at projection to the majors, not just college production. I would peg Martinez around the 10-15 round range.
Infielder David Greer will also hear his named called most likely on Day 2. Greer has had great offensive production the past two seasons and should be drafted inside of the first 10-15 rounds.
The other juniors that have a chance to be drafted are Eder Erives and Daniel Williams.
The next three days are grueling for college coaches. They have been recruiting their signees for the better part of four years only to see them be selected in the first round and offered millions of dollars to skip school.
According to Perfect Game, the Sun Devils boast the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation which means several signees will be taken and some will not make it to Tempe.
Before we get to those names, let's discuss the process from the high school side. Typically, teams will call players and their families and attempt to make deals prior to the draft.
Players often times set a bonus demand that it would take for them to sign professionally and skip school. Teams don't want to draft a player and be blindsided by a his bonus demand and lose him. Sometimes a player is so adamant about attending school that teams don't even bother taking him.
That is why rarely do you see prospects selected inside of the first 10 rounds make it to college. The team knows if they offer him the right amount of money he is going to sign.
Every year you see top-100 level high school prospects fall to the later rounds of the draft because of "signability" concerns. The most recent example of this is TCU's Luken Baker. One of the nation's top freshman this season, Baker told teams a few days before the 2015 draft he was committed to TCU and because of this, he fell to the 37th round despite being a top-100 prospect.
Right now, ASU has four top-100 level high school prospects that have signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. RHP Reggie Lawson, SS Gavin Lux, INF Bo Bichette and OF Hunter Bishop. If ASU can keep one of those players, they will be in good shape heading into 2017.
Lux and Lawson are expected to be taken in the first two rounds, Bichette and Bishop inside of the first five rounds. Again, that does not mean it is impossible for them to end up at ASU but usually when a player is taken that high they sign.
INF Chad McClanahan, and lefty pitchers Sean Keating and Spencer Van Scoyoc may also be selected in the draft and could face tough choices about whether to take the money or stay with the Sun Devils.
One interesting aspect of the draft is it only takes one team to fall in love with a player to take them 10-15 rounds higher than people think he will go.
It also only takes one team to have a few dollars left over near the signing deadline to make a big offer to a high school player taken in the later rounds and sign them away from college.
The deadline for players to sign with their organizations is July 15.
Note: Most MLB teams have money for college tuition written in the contract of these draftees so if baseball does not work out they can still get an education.