The 2022 MLB Draft has come and gone. The Orioles, starting with #1 overall pick Jackson Holliday, made a total of 22 picks in the draft. On the agenda between now and the August 1 deadline is to get these players signed to contracts and officially into the Orioles system.
During the Mike Elias era, the Orioles have signed the vast majority of picks. In 2019, when the draft still had 40 rounds, the O’s signed every pick for the first 33 rounds. They signed all six picks made in the shortened 2020 draft, and last year when the draft settled on its new 20 round format, the O’s signed 21 out of 21 players chosen.
After the draft completed, scouting director Brad Ciolek told Orioles reporters that “the intent is to sign each and every one” but that he is “not as optimistic as in years past” that they might go 22-22 in signing players this year.
Between now and the deadline, we’ll be tracking who’s signed, how much they’ve signed for, and who’s said they’re not signing. This post will be updated as often as new information becomes public.
The Orioles total bonus pool
The most important thing for who the Orioles will or won’t sign is MLB’s slot value system. Each pick in the first ten rounds is assigned a dollar value. Add them up and you get a team’s total bonus pool. Talk about over slot or under slot is relative to each pick’s value. Players with more leverage - just-graduated-from-high school kids and college sophomores - get over slot. Players with less, like college seniors or just players drafted in excess of a consensus view of their talent, tend to get under slot.
The #1 pick comes with about $8.8 million of pool money. The O’s 10th round pick, #287 overall, brings a mere $155,700. For the O’s this year, that total is $16,924,000 - the second-highest amount any team has ever had since this system was instituted in 2012.
Unsigned picks in the first ten rounds result in the team losing that amount of its bonus pool. For players taken after the tenth round, the first $125,000 of signing bonus does not apply to the pool. A team can exceed its pool by up to 5% with only a tax on the overage. There are stiffer penalties beyond that, but no team has ever chosen to pay them in a decade. With the 5% on top, the Orioles have $17,770,200 in pool money to potentially play with. They begin with about $850,000 in overslot potential before signing anyone.
The official signings
- Round 1, #1: Jackson Holliday - SS - Stillwater HS (Oklahoma)
- CB Round A, #33: Dylan Beavers - OF - University of California
- Round 2, #42: Max Wagner - 3B - Clemson
- CB Round B, #67: Jud Fabian - OF - University of Florida
- Round 4, #107: Silas Ardoin - C - University of Texas
- Round 5, #137: Trace Bright - RHP - Auburn
- Round 6, #167: Douglas Hodo III - OF - University of Texas
- Round 7, #197: Preston Johnson - RHP - Mississippi State
- Round 8, #227: Cameron Weston - RHP - University of Michigan
- Round 9, #257: Adam Crampton - SS - Stanford
- Round 10, #287: Wyatt Cheney - RHP - McClennan CC (Texas)
- Round 11, #317: Zack Showalter - RHP - Wesley Chapel HS (Florida)
- Round 12, #347: Bradley Brehmer - RHP - Indiana University
- Round 13, #377: Jared Beck - LHP - Saint Leo University
- Round 14, #407: Adam Retzbach - C - Lehigh University
- Round 16, #467: Graham Firoved - RHP - Virginia Tech
- Round 17, #497: Carter Young - SS - Vanderbilt
- Round 20, #587: Reese Sharp - RHP - Indiana University
Undrafted free agents signed
The Orioles announced four UDFA signings on August 2. Some of these had been previously reported elsewhere.
- Maxwell Costes - INF - University of Maryland
- Hayden Nierman - RHP - Nevada-Las Vegas
- Trey Nordmann - RHP - Lipscomb University
- Cooper Chandler - RHP - Rice
The Holliday bonus, reported by The Baltimore Sun’s Andy Kostka, is $8.19 million. That’s a record for a high school draftee, $50,000 more than what #2 pick Druw Jones received.
The Orioles announced the signings of Beavers and Fabian on July 23. The Baltimore Sun’s Nathan Ruiz reported that Beavers received a $2.2 million bonus, about $100,000 under slot. Fabian’s bonus is at the slot value of just over $1 million for his pick.
Wagner’s signing was announced by the team on July 26. Ruiz reported a bonus of $1.9 million, roughly $40,000 above the slot for the pick.
Other Orioles signings announced later in the day on the 26th: Ardoin, Bright, Hodo, Johnson, Weston, Crampton, Cheney, Brehmer, Beck, Retzbach, Firoved, and Sharp.
MLB’s Jim Callis reported that Ardoin signed for full slot value. The Sun’s Kostka said that Bright’s signing is for $400,000, or about $25,000 less than slot. Ruiz reported on the 7th-10th round pick bonuses: Johnson is about $75,000 over slot, Weston’s bonus was for slot, Crampton received about $40,000 under slot, and Cheney received about $5,000 below slot.
On July 30, Callis reported that the Orioles have signed 11th round pick Showalter to a bonus of $440,000. That will count as $315,000 against the bonus pool. With hours to go until the deadline, Baseball America’s Geoff Pontes reported the O’s have inked the 17th rounder, Young - who’d previously been reported as completing his transfer to LSU and probably not signing.
Young’s bonus of $1.325 million will count for $1.2 million against the slot pool. That uses up all of their previous under slot savings, plus the 5% overage potential.
The Orioles signed 18 of 22 players from the draft class.
- Round 3, #81: Nolan McLean - RHP(/3B?) - Oklahoma State
- Round 15, #437: James Hicks Jr. - RHP - University of South Carolina
- Round 18, #527: Andrew Walters - RHP - University of Miami
- Round 19, #557: Alden Mathes Jr. - OF - University of Richmond
Walters tweeted that he is returning to Miami; he was said to be seeking a $1.7 million bonus. Richmond’s student newspaper The Collegian reported on Mathes’s decision to return for his senior season and not sign with the Orioles.
It is a surprise to me that the Orioles did not reach an agreement with the third round pick, McLean. Top ten round guys nearly always sign! That’s been the pattern for the last decade. I’m curious what the reason will turn out to be. It may be that the Orioles just had their draft class work out such that either McLean, Young, or Walters was going to get a seven-figure bonus and whoever accepted the offer first would get the money.
By not signing McLean, the Orioles don’t get the pool money from that pick. Their signings up to this point did not require that pool money available in order to make the math work. Callis reported that there was an issue in McLean’s post-draft physical. The Orioles will receive the #82 pick in the draft next year as compensation.
I think it’s likely the Orioles intended to give McLean a bonus in the range of $1.5 million, and once there was an issue with the physical, they looped back around to try to sign Young or Walters with the available pool money instead. Young, who appeared to have signaled he was heading to LSU as a transfer for next season, reversed course and signed.
The big questions
Note: The below information is all out of date now that the signing deadline has passed. You can read it, or not, to see how right or wrong I was.
The #1 pick has the biggest slot value, so what was used to sign Holliday gave a big answer about how much surplus is available to sign other picks later.
Second round pick Wagner and third round pick McLean are 20-year-olds who just played their sophomore seasons. Last year, the O’s picked sophomore John Rhodes in the third round, who received a bonus of $1,375,000, or about $500,000 more than the slot value there. What happens with the sophomores will be another thing to watch to see if there’s extra money for farther down the draft board. Wagner’s slot value is $1,861,000. McLean’s is $793,600.
In general, you should not spend any time worrying about whether the Orioles will sign any of their picks in the first ten rounds. Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo noted that from 2012 to the present, 98.61% of players selected in the first ten rounds have signed. Of the ones from this group that didn’t sign, post-draft medical issues are usually the reason.
All of these things will be worth following because the Orioles took several players in rounds 11-20 who might be candidates to receive a notable amount of overslot money. Elias has not taken these kinds of players in his first two full drafts.
The three day 3 Orioles picks who figure to angle for bigger bonuses are: 11th rounder Showalter (no known relation to Buck), 17th rounder Young, and 18th rounder Walters. Young and Walters are both college juniors who were ranked on MLB Pipeline’s Top 250 draft prospects list.
To me, that suggests a reasonable price would be for a mid-day 2-caliber bonus, somewhere in the range of $250,000-$450,000. If they want more than that, they can try their luck next year as 22-year-old college seniors. Going back to school doesn’t seem like a recipe for bigger bucks or better pro prospects to me, though Young struggled in his junior season so he might correctly believe he can show himself as better than he was. He’ll be transferring from Vanderbilt to LSU for next season.
Showalter is committed to attend the University of Central Florida. He’s already tweeted about his being drafted by saying “Show to the O’s”. You might take that as a strong indicator he plans to sign, but I’ve seen players get drafted by the O’s, tweet about being Orioles, and not end up signing. That happened with Colin Poche after the O’s drafted him in the fifth round in 2012. Poche ultimately found his way to MLB in the Rays bullpen.
When Ciolek said he’s less optimistic about signing everyone, that was almost certainly a reference to the Showalter, Young, and Walters picks. It seems like the Orioles will manage to sign at least one of those guys, maybe two, but probably not all three. I would guess they’re most interested in Showalter, which is why they took him with the first pick of day 3, and the others are there as signing possibilities in case things fall through with Showalter.