TCB's 2012 MLB Draft Primer

HOUSTON,TX-MAY 01: Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow (R) and team president George Postolos talk during batting practice before a game between the New York Mets and Houston Astros on May 1, 2012 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

It's that time of year again. Well, almost, as we're now 11 days away from the June 4 Rule 4 MLB Draft. As we've done the past few years, TCB is going to kick into gear for draft coverage, profiling 50 players for you in the coming days. It's a good mix of guys who might get tabbed No. 1 overall, interesting prospects and guys who might get picked in the supplemental round or later.

With this post, I just wanted to introduce you to the content we'd be rolling out and discuss a few key changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, where Houston is drafting, what the Astros draft pool looks like, etc. Basically, this is a primer for those of you about to embark on the draft voyage with us. After the jump, we'll hit all the gory details...

First up, where do the Astros pick?

1-1, obviously, and then Houston picks at No. 41 overall (No. 10 in supplemental round), No. 61 in the second round, No. 96 in the third and then No. 129 in the fourth. After that, add 30 to the number and you've got the overall selection Houston's got in the new round.

Houston received the 41st pick for losing Type B free agent Clint Barmes to the Pirates.

The new draft rules are pretty simple. Here are the highlights:

  • The number of rounds in the draft dropped from 50 to 40. Mike Piazza's place as the lowest-drafted player to ever make an All-Star game or some such nonsense is assured.
  • This is good news for any fans of minor league affiliates: the signing deadline has moved up from Aug. 15 to mid-July. This year, that means the actual deadline is July 13 at 4 p.m. CST.
  • Here's the biggest change, teams now have bonus pools they have to use to sign their top 10 rounds. Each pick is assigned a specific amount and that adds up to how much money the team can spend in those 10 rounds. After those first 10, there is a cap of $100,000 on signings. If teams go over that, the overage counts against their bonus pool.
  • If a team violates the bonus pool by 5 percent, they'll be taxed 75 percent on the overage. Go over 5 percent up to 10 percent, and the tax kicks in along with a loss of a first round pick. Go from 10 to 15 percent over and it's a 100 percent tax on the overage along with the loss of first and second round picks. In case teams are dumb enough to try and go over that? More than 15 percent gets a 100 percent tax and the loss of two first-rounders.
  • No big league contracts are allowed under the new rules. This especially affects Houston, because the 1-1 spot was often where players would demand a major league contract. Hopefully, this will make it easier for a player picked there to stay in the minors until they're finished developing instead of being forced up due to roster restrictions.
  • This isn't going to affect Houston, but teams will get a second compensation pick if they fail to sign any player taken with a compensation pick. Basically, this keeps teams from having to draft sure-sign guys like Corey Spangenberger or Drew Storen, just to avoid losing the pick. Of course, both of those examples turned out well so far, but it's still a good rule.

Next season, there will be plenty more changes on the way, including a competitive balance lottery for extra picks and a drastic reduction in the way compensation for free agency works. For now, though, this is what we've got.

Houston's bonus pool breaks down like this:

For 11 picks, Houston can spend $11,177,700.

That's $7,200,000 in the 1-1 spot

$1,258,700 in the No. 41 spot

$844,100 at No. 61

$495,200 at No. 96

$360,200 at No. 129

It keeps going down to just over $125,000 for the 10th round, but you get the gist. If a player fails to sign, the team does not get that money back into the pool to spend around. The only way they can spend extra money elsewhere is if a player signs for cheaper than his "slot bonus."

Houston has the second-most money to spend next season, just behind the Minnesota Twins, who have two first round picks and a supplemental selection.

Starting tomorrow, we'll publish five scouting reports on players a day. We're starting out with fringy guys and working in towards the meat of the draft, so be sure to stop by early and often over the next week to get all the info you need on the draft.

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