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2015 MLB Draft: St. Louis Cardinals sign second-rounder Bryce Denton and third-rounder Harrison Bader; likely now unable to sign Kep Brown

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The Cardinals signed their second- and third-rounders and are unlikely to ink their tenth-rounder as a result.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals have signed another batch of their picks in the 2015 MLB draft. Most notably, the Cardinals and second-round pick Bryce Denton to a $1,200,000 contract. It also appears that St. Louis signed third-rounder Harrison Bader to a $400,000 bonus.

Bryce Denton

Denton is a prep who had committed to play college ball at Vanderbilt. The lifelong Cardinals fan nonetheless agreed to sign with the Cards and forego NCAA baseball for a signing bonus that is $264,600 over the MLB-assigned slot value for the 66th pick in this year's Draft. Denton explained his rationale to The Tennesseean:

"They're my favorite team, and I just couldn't see a better opportunity future-wise," said Denton, who has agreed to terms on a $1.2 million deal with his beloved Cardinals. "From the beginning I said I would sign for 1.2 with a college scholarship plan. Once they got to that I just wanted to keep my word."

The scholarship plan allows Denton to receive up to $100,000 in tuition toward any in-state school for up to two years after he has finished playing.

"It's not money I'd ever get to see or have in my pocket or anything," said Denton, who plays third base. "You can use the money for school, and you pretty much just send (the Cardinals) the bill.

"I'll still have an opportunity to get a quality education, plus I'll have the chance to maybe make it to the major leagues."

It's tough to argue with Denton's logic in becoming a pro ballplayer instead of playing baseball for the NCAA cartel.

Here is a tidbit from RB's most up-to-date assessment of Denton:

The thing is this: Bryce Denton has one of the fastest bats, and some of the biggest raw power, of any player in this draft class. The pure just raw power, not game power but raw, I might throw a 65 on if you catch him on a good day. He's capable of hitting the ball out to any field when he's swinging well and actually staying balanced, but that's not yet a thing he consistently does.

There's definitely some swing and miss in Denton's game, though the fact his bat speed is so naturally good gives me hope he can improve that. This is a player who does not have to cheat to hit good velocity, which is a huge part of the battle won already. Better balance in the swing, and a better understanding of hitting in general, could take him to a much higher, and potentially very exciting, level offensively. Whether those things come is a question we'll just to wait for the answer to, though.

(RB's Draft Review scouting report includes a wonderful highlight video that Denton apparently made himself that you should watch if you have yet to do so.)

Harrison Bader

I have yet to see a proper article reporting that the Cardinals have signed the University of Florida junior to a pro contract. But it appears that Bader has understandably elected to take a payday instead of continuing to play for the Gators and be exploited by the NCAA cartel. The MLB.com 2015 bonus tracker lists Bader as having inked a deal with the Cardinals that includes a $400,000 bonus, which is $170,300 below the assigned slot value for the 100th overall pick. For what it's worth, as of this writing, the Baseball America draft database does not list either Bader or Denton as having agreed to a contract.

Here is an excerpt from RB's post-draft scouting report on Bader:

The bat speed and patience at the plate are both big pluses, and Bader's 30 extra-base hits in just 280 plate appearances (including 15 home runs), this season at Florida shows what kind of power potential he brings to the table. It was a big step forward for him in 2015 over what he had done in the past, which could certainly lead to some concerns, given the new, more slugging-friendly balls in play in the NCAA this year, but just watching Bader swing the bat is enough to see the raw power is for real. He hits with a very level swing, with just the slightest bit of an uppercut, that I wouldn't change one iota if given the chance. His hands are extraordinarily quick, and he's not afraid to hit the ball the other way. The one thing I very much dislike about his swing is his in-game approach with his feet. In batting practice, he hits from a widespread stance, with a short stride and great balance, while in games he hits with a strange, complicated longer stride that leads him to commit too early and, thus, end up very vulnerable to offspeed stuff, I believe. I would immediately have him ditch the overly complicated timing mechanism and hit from the same wide stance he employs in batting practice all the time; his balance is far better that way.

MLB Draft Pool

Remember that the MLB assigns slot values to each of the picks in the Draft's first ten rounds. The slot values for each club's picks are then added together to get an overall bonus pool amount. Teams may sign players above or below the assigned slot value, but may not go over the overall bonus pool amount. After the tenth round, there's a $100,000 value for each pick. If a team goes over $100,000 to sign a player taken in the 11th round or later, the amount in excess of $100,000 counts against the organization's bonus pool.

If a club goes over its overall bonus pool amount with its draftee signings, it is subject to the following penalties, which are triggered based on the amount of overspending:

  • 0-5% Over: 75% tax on the overage amount
  • 5-10% Over: 75% tax on the overage amount and loss of the next year's first-round pick
  • 10-15% Over: 100% tax on the overage amount and loss of the next year's first- and second-round picks
  • 15%+ Over: 100% tax on the overage amount and the loss of two first-round picks

If a club fails to sign one of its picks from the first ten rounds, the organization has its overall bonus pool reduced by the slotted bonus value for that pick. Taking Brown as an example. The Cardinals selected the outfielder in the tenth round, which means that the assigned bonus value for that pick is subject to the bonus pool restrictions and penalties. If the Cardinals are unable to sign Brown to a pro contract their overall bonus pool will be reduced by the $149,700 MLB assigned to the 311th pick prior to the Draft.

2015 Cardinals Draftee Signing Tracker

I put together this chart by combining the players that have signed according to the MLB.com bonus tracker (for picks in the first ten rounds) and Baseball America draft database (for those picks in the 11th round and later).

Player

Level

Pos

Rnd

Pick

Slot Value

Bonus

+/- Slot

Nick Plummer

HS

OF

1

23

$2,124,400

$2,124,400

+/- $0

Jake Woodford

HS

RHP

CBA

39

$1,585,400

$1,800,000

+ $214,600

Bryce Denton

HS

3B

2

66

$935,400

$1,200,000

+ 264,600

Harrison Bader

College

OF

3

100

$570,300

$400,000

- $170,300

Jordan Hicks

HS

RHP

Comp

105

$543,300

$600,000

+ $56,700

Paul DeJong

College

3B

4

131

$422,900

$200,000

- $222,900

Ryan Helsley

College

RHP

5

161

$316,500

$225,000

- $91,500

Jacob Evans

College

LHP

6

191

$237,000

$150,000

- $87,000

Jesse Jenner

College

C

7

221

$179,100

$10,000

- $169,100

Ian Oxnevad

HS

LHP

8

251

$167,400

$500,000

+ $332,600

Andrew Brodbek

College

2B

9

281

$156,200

$5,000

- $151,200

Kep Brown

HS

RF

10

311

$149,700



Paul Salazar

HS

RHP

11

341

-



Jacob Schlesener

HS

LHP

12

371

-



Craig Aikin

College

CF

13

401

-

Signed


Carson Cross

College

RHP

14

431

-

Signed


Ryan Merrill

College

SS

15

461

-



Max Almonte

College

RHP

16

491

-

Signed


Chris Chinea

College

C

17

521

-

Signed

Joshua Rolette

HS

C

18

551

-



Ryan McCarvel

College

C

19

581

-

Signed


Luke Doyle

College

2B

20

611

-

Signed


Cadyn Grenier

HS

SS

21

641

-



Hunter Newman

College

1B

22

671

-

Signed


Gio Brusa

College

RF

23

701

-



Daniel Martin

College

2B

24

731

-

Signed


Kyle Molnar

HS

RHP

25

761

-



Brennan Leitao

College

RHP

26

791

-

Signed


Greg Tomchick

College

RHP

27

821

-

Signed


Mitchell Traver

College

RHP

28

851

-



Ben Yokley

College

RHP

29

881

-

Signed


Matt Vierling

HS

OF

30

911

-



Aaron Coates

HS

LHP

31

941

-



Tom Spitz

College

CF

32

971

-

Signed


Chandler Hawkins

College

LHP

33

1001

-

Signed


Parker Kelly

HS

RHP

34

1031

-



Luke Harrison

College

RHP

35

1061

-

Signed


Dylan Tice

College

2B

36

1091

-

Signed


Stephen Zavala

College

C

37

1121

-

Signed


Orlando Olivera

College

OF

38

1151

-

Signed


R.J. Dennard

College

1B

39

1181

-

Signed


Joseph Hawkins

College

SS

40

1211

-

Signed


Kep Brown

By now you're probably familiar with Brown's hemming and hawing over whether he will honor his commitment to the University of Miami to play college ball at The House That A-Rod Built. He initially told the Palm Beach Post that he would not sign, but then recanted and indicated he was willing to talk to with St. Louis. Then he told South Carolina media members that he would not sign with the Cardinals and would honor his commitment to Miami. Next Brown once again indicated he was willing to talk with St. Louis. Now it looks like the decision is out of Brown's hands. As Derrick Goold explains at the Post-Dispatch, the signing of Denton likely makes inking Brown an impossibility:

The Cardinals expected to go over slot to sign Denton and woo him away from the college commitment.

That means the team is unlikely to sign 10th-round pick Kep Brown. The Cardinals will likely go over their bonus pool and pay a financial penalty, but also signing Brown would put the team in danger of losing a pick for next year. It would be difficult to fit Denton's bonus and the bonus Brown could command in the remaining bonus limit.

With the signings of Denton and Bader, the Cardinals have committed $7,214,400 worth of bonuses out of their pre-draft $7,387,600 bonus pool and have all of their top ten rounds worth of draftees signed but Brown. That leaves them $173,200 under the pool with only Brown left unsigned. The assigned slot value for the tenth-round pick St. Louis used on Brown is $149,700. If they are willing to pay the 75% tax penalty, they could only go up to $542,580 for Brown, which would bring their overall bonus-pool spending to 5% higher than the Cards' overall bonus pool. This is the highest they could go before they would lose a future draft pick. And that's if they do not sign any draftee from the 11th round or later to a bonus worth over $100,000.

The deadline to sign prospects taken in the 2015 MLB Draft is July 17.

Correction: The original version of this post did not have in the draft signing tracker chart Chris Chinea, a catcher the Cardinals drafted in the 17th round, listed as having signed. It has been corrected to show that Chinea agreed to a contract with St. Louis.