The most major leaguers are going to come out of Round 1, but the most interesting round of the MLB Draft as its currently set up could very well be Round 11. In the first 10 rounds, teams face a lot of pressure to sign their picks because their bonus pool money goes to waste otherwise. For instance, if a team doesn’t sign its first round pick with the slot value being $1.6 million, that team can’t allot that money to any other player–it’s simply gone. With that in mind, managing money has become a much bigger part of the draft than ever before. If you draft a player who will take an over-slot bonus to sign, you have to compensate by selecting a player who will sign for less than his assigned number. In Round 11, though, suddenly that restriction is gone. You can draft the most talented player available knowing that there is no penalty if you don’t sign him. There are still plenty of money issues to deal with–if the player signs for more than $100,000, the difference goes against your bonus pool–but teams are more willing to take chances nonetheless. It is in that vein that the Rays selected right-hander Spencer Moran out of Mountain View High School in Arizona, and it will be quite the coup of they do find a way to sign him.
There is projectable, then there is Spencer Moran. He is 6’6″ but just 180 pounds, and he very well could have several more MPH on his fastball once he fills out. Considering he has touched as high as 93 MPH already, that was a proposition the Rays could not look past. Moran’s fastball is more consistently in the high-80′s at this point, and while he does get good a good downward angle on it thanks to his height, he needs to do a better job throwing it for strikes. Then there are his secondary pitches: a curveball and changeup, both of which remain very raw. He has shown some aptitude with the former pitch, occasionally showing good 11-to-5 break, but the Rays will have to work with him extensively on both pitches if they do get him signed. The bottom line is that Moran will be a project. However, he is exactly the type of starting point that the Rays like to go off of, and his potential is incredible.
Spencer Moran clearly slipped this far in the draft because of signability–based on ability alone, he easily would have gone in the top five rounds and maybe even the top three. Not only is money a question, but also the matter of his development. Even if the Rays offer him $500,000, Moran could easily say that he wants to develop physically and as a pitcher knowing that he has the ability to be a first round pick in three years. That may be too much to overcome. On the other hand, the Rays are giving him a chance to become a professional baseball player based purely on potential. If he does not develop as hoped, his prospect stock will be significantly worse. It will be an interesting decision for Moran based around a lot more than money. For the Rays, all they can do is try to get the money available to sign him and see what he decides.