–The Pirates took some heat for drafting shortstop Cole Tucker of Phoenix with the 24th pick because he was rated lower by media services. Now, they signed him for $1.8M, about $125,000 below slot, and were able to then sign Iowa HS RHP Mitch Keller above slot. If the Pirates had passed on Tucker, Oakland would have taken him with the first pick, and the A’s took Fullerton third baseman Matt Chapman. “He might be the best defensive third baseman in baseball,” says one scout. “He also touched 99 off the mound, so he’s interesting.”
–One of the most intriguing selections was Boston’s pick of Florida RHP Karsten Whitson in the 11th round. Whitson was a first round pick of the Padres in 2010 in the nine slot of the first round, turned down $2.1M and went to Gainesville. After a sensational freshman year, Whitson had shoulder and other physical issues, and threw only 64 innings in three years, which the Red Sox and Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan think may be a blessing. “By the end of the season Karsten’s stuff was really coming back,” says O’Sullivan. “He touched 97 in the SEC Tournament, and I know he feels he has a lot to prove.” Whitson is so eager to get his professional career moving that he was in Lowell awaiting the results of his physical so he could get to work. “He could be the steal of the draft,” says O’Sullivan.
“When a kid turns down good money and doesn’t sign there’s always a stigma attached to him by a lot of scouts,” says one GM. Vanderbilt’s Tyler Beede had the same stigma because he turned down $2.1M from the Blue Jays out of the 2011 draft, then had some trying starts down the stretch. Beede was grabbed by the Giants in the first round right in front of the Angels, who had Beede and their pick, Hartford LHP Sean Newcomb, as two of the three best college arms (with East Carolina’s Jeff Hoffman having Tommy John Surgery) in the draft.