Local baseball players taken in 2019 Major League Baseball Draft

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Great Oak High School’s Zach Arnold, a University of Oregon commit, was drafted by the Orioles in the 34th round of the MLB first-year player draft, June 3-5. Time Stood Still Photography

With the conclusion of the high school baseball season wrapping up two weeks earlier this year, all eyes were set on the first-year player draft last week. Also known as the amateur draft, it is Major League Baseball’s primary mechanism for assigning unsigned baseball players, from high schools, colleges and other amateur baseball clubs, to its teams. The draft took place June 3-5, at Studio 42 in New Jersey and selected quite a few players from southwest Riverside County.

The draft order is determined based on the previous season’s standings, with the team possessing the worst record receiving the first pick. The first 43 picks, including the first round and compensatory picks, were broadcast by MLB Network Monday, June 3, as the remainder of the draft was streamed on MLB.com Tuesday, June 4, and Wednesday, June 5.

With the worst record in the 2018 MLB season (47–115), the Baltimore Orioles received the first overall pick ahead of the Kansas City Royals and chose Oregon State University catcher Adley Rutschman. The first overall pick comes with a $8.42 million bonus allocation. There are 40 rounds in the draft, with 1,024 players selected.

Southern California has always been slated as one of the top spots in the nation for baseball talent and that was evident once again during the 2019 MLB Draft. More than 170 players with ties to California were selected during the three-day draft, and 38 of those players were high school seniors. From the area only one high school player found himself on the draft board, Great Oak High School’s Zach Arnold was also drafted by the Orioles in the 34th round. Arnold is an Oregon State University commit, and as of this article going to print, he has still not met with representatives to discuss playing options.

Other local players selected this year included University of California Santa Barbara right-hander Chris Lincoln of Rancho Verde High School, who was picked in the fifth round, was 143rd overall, by the San Diego Padres; University of California Riverside’s Connor Cannon, a graduate of Temecula Valley High School, went in the 17th round to the San Francisco Giants, the 506th player picked; shortstop Aaron Shackelford from The Master’s College and Murrieta Valley High School, went in the 14th round to Pittsburgh; pitcher Shaine McNeely of Hope International University and Vista Murrieta High School, went in the 16th round to the Yankees; pitcher Travis Kuhn of San Diego University and Norco High School, 19th round to Seattle; shortstop Andrew Navigato of Oklahoma State University and Riverside Poly High School, 20th round to Detroit and catcher Michael Carpentier of Yucaipa High School, 30th round to Tampa Bay. The Angels picked Yucaipa High right-hander Tyson Heaton in the 40th round, but Heaton, who was the Inland Empire Varsity Pitcher of the Year this season, committed to Brigham Young University in his sophomore year and has no plans to turn professional just yet, he said. The area’s other 40th-round pick, left-hander Garrett Irvin from Riverside City College and Norco High, was taken by Boston with the draft’s 1,217th and final pick.

Early on, most players drafted came directly from high school. Between 1967 and 1971, only seven college players were chosen in the first round of the June draft; however, the college players who were drafted outperformed their high school counterparts drastically. By 1978, most draftees had played college baseball, and by 2002, the number rose above 60%. While the number of high school players drafted has dropped, those picked have been more successful than their predecessors.

This year the three local high school players that went in the late rounds have a tough choice to make when it comes to either going off to play in college or pursuing a career as a Major League Baseball player, which has no guarantees.

So, where do players that get drafted go from here? Once Major League Baseball has concluded its amateur player draft, teams, players will begin the process of signing bonuses and minor league contracts. The teams that selected these players have sole negotiating rights to them and must submit a written minor league contract to them within 15 days of their selection. Failure to do so, terminates their negotiating rights and the player will be a free agent and on the open market for contract negotiations. Players will begin an often-lengthy journey through small town America toward what they hope will be a career in the MLB.

Over 80% of players drafted in the first round make it to the major leagues. After that, the odds are less than 50%. Players selected in the draft will receive a signing bonus. For most players, it is the only significant amount of compensation that they will receive for a few years, so the signing bonus is important to drafted players. Under the terms of the latest collective bargaining agreement between team owners and players, each draft slot is assigned a “slot recommendation,” which usually dictates the signing bonus that the player will receive. Often, it will also determine whether a player opts to chase his baseball dream or accept a college scholarship.

A club generally retains the rights to sign a selected player until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Aug. 15, or until the player enters, or returns to, a four-year college on a full-time basis. A player who is drafted and does not sign with the club that selected him may be drafted again at a future year’s draft, so long as the player is eligible for that year’s draft. A club may not select a player again in a subsequent year, unless the player has consented to the reselection.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at sports@reedermedia.com.