Detroit Tigers' lack of early picks says a lot.
First, it may be early to talk slot values and bonus pools for the 2024 MLB Draft, but it's never too early to be looking ahead. The Detroit Tigers had the third overall pick in last year's draft, signing their draftee, Max Clark, slightly under slot. They allocated the money elsewhere, as teams are known to do.
Baseball's First-Year Amateur Player Draft is more complex than leagues like the NHL or NBA, where you are drafted, and that's that. These teams all have to sign their players, and every pick has a slot value, meaning if you are drafted first overall or 200th overall, there's an amount of money you are set to make.
But it's not that simple, as players can sign above and below their projected slot; it's what makes the draft process so interesting and why sometimes a top-tier player can fall because "his number is too high" or a high school player who gets drafted could end up not signing at all, going back to school and coming back when he's eligible once again.
It happens at the college level, too. The Mets drafted former Vanderbilt standout Kumar Rocker; there was an error with his physical, so his contract and signing with the Mets fell through, and he ended up being drafted by the Texas Rangers as a first-rounder a year later. While Rocker did not go back to school, he played Indy-ball and still got selected the next year.
Draft gymnastics are real. Teams have to be strategic, and it's why every player drafted does not always sign and why players can be drafted several times.
Another name that comes to mind is former University of Florida pitcher Brandon Sproat. He was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2019 as a high schooler. He elected to attend Florida and was drafted in 2022 by the Mets; he did not sign and returned to school. He was drafted again by New York in 2023, signing this summer. So, he's been drafted three times now.
It's pretty crazy all that goes into an MLB Draft, so let's talk about 2024 and the Tigers.