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Will FSU baseball players return after being taken in MLB Draft?

Four ’Noles regulars may opt to go pro.

Larry Novey

Five members of the Florida State Seminoles program were selected in the first 10 rounds of this year’s MLB Draft — four of them have a big decision to make.

Cal Raleigh, Cole Sands, Jackson Lueck, and Tyler Holton were selected after their junior seasons and thus will decide on whether to agree to terms on a pro contract or return to FSU. Senior Andrew Karp, selected by the Washington Nationals, does not have any leverage to negotiate given that he is a senior, and will likely sign with the club.

Every draft slot has a value attached to it. Each MLB club strategically selects players so that they do not exceed their total allotment for the draft. Teams are allowed to go over the slot value at a given position, but only within 5% of the estimated value.

For this reason, MLB teams will often select players earlier than normal in an effort to sign them for less and redistribute their funds to other prospects.

College seniors have no leverage when it comes to negotiating contract terms because their alternative is to simply stop playing — no player wants to do that.

High school players are always interesting because they have the most options. Depending on where they fall in the draft, a high school prospect could sign with the team that drafted them, enroll at a 4-year school (where they will likely be forced to play for at least two years), or enroll at a JUCO program where they could re-enter the draft after each year.

FSU doesn’t have to look too far to see an example of this with their top high school commit.

College juniors are forced to decide — forego their senior season by signing a pro contract or return to school and try to improve their draft stock.

Here’s a look at the Seminoles selected in the 2018 MLB Draft, and the estimated slot value for that draft position.

Raleigh, selected by the Seattle Mariners in the third round, is likely gone. With an estimated slot value of $632.7K, the Mariners could offer him a little over slot or a bit under slot and thus they should be able to work out a deal.

The Twins, after taking Sands in the fifth round, will have to negotiate a deal or else Sands could elect to return for his senior year in an effort to improve his stock.

Kansas City ($12,781,900) entered the draft with more money to spend on draft picks than any other club. For this reason, they could manipulate additional contracts so that Lueck is offered above-slot dollars, thus making his decision to go pro a bit easier.

Curious case of Tyler Holton

With at least eight more months of recovery, after Tommy John surgery in February, Holton may not want to gamble on the health of his arm. And with only one year left to prove himself worthy of something better than the estimated $144.8K due given his ninth round slot value, the Arizona Diamondbacks might have found themselves a bargain.

Given his preseason hype, even if Holton missed the first few weeks of the 2019 campaign, he could raise his value simply by staying healthy without entirely returning to form. But he then runs into the problem of leverage. If he returns to FSU and remains healthy he could see his value rise toward a 5th or 6th round grade. Unfortunately, if a team selected him in the 5th round in 2019, although four rounds higher, they could offer a well-below slot contract and Holton has little leverage.

If you’re really interested in this concept, keep an eye on the Cleveland Indians and left-handed starter Adam Scott. He was the first college senior selected this year. His estimated slot value is $406.3K. Don’t be surprised to see the Indians offer him well below that number in an effort to allocate funds toward higher-selected players that may have fallen a bit in the draft (Ethan Hankins or Noah Naylor). It’s quite possible that Scott will sign for less than $250K. If that’s the case, Holton would be returning to FSU with as little as $100K to gain.

It’s quite possible that if he returns for his senior season, has a spectacular year, and gets selected several rounds earlier, he still wouldn’t get an offer higher than the one he will get from the Diamondbacks. For that reason, Florida State may have seen the last of their star left-hander.

For all of Florida State’s signings check here.

Update: As expected Holton chose to sign with the Diamondbacks.

Update: Nander De Sedas has decided to forgo the draft and attend Florida State University.