As the Astros' draft clock ticked down to zero the industry expected their selection to either be Standford righty Mark Appel or Georgia high school outfielder Byron Buxton. Yes it was known there was a slight chance that Houston may call out the name of the helium Puerto Rican short stop Carlos Correa.
Of course, the Astros were incredibly tight lipped throughout the entire process and may have had Carlos Correa at the top of their board from the start. If they did it was brilliant. How do agents develop signing bonus demands? The answer swings much further in the perception direction than the reality direction.
I may be giving the Astros too much credit, but in my mind they intentionally played up Mark Appel and Byron Buxton throughout the process. Those two and their agents then built their expectations for bonuses, as did the next tier of prospects.
Thanks to this perception and the new draft rules, Carlos Correa's bonus demands entering the draft were going to be several million lower than Mark Appel and Byron Buxton. Now we are hearing that Correa will likely sign by the end of the week. Personally, I can't help but wonder if the an arrangement was made just prior to the final pick.
It is a time when bonuses are restricted based off budget pools. When the Astros called Correa, it was an opportunity for Correa to make a couple million more than if he went at 3 or lower, and it was an opportunity for the Astros to get their top choice for less than the suggested slot. This wouldn't have been possible had the perception not already existed that Appel and Buxton were the top two prospects in the draft. I'm not saying this perception was entirely created by the Astros, but they could have certainly played a big part in it. Especially if their entire organization from the top to bottom knew which names to play up.
Oh and by the way, thanks to the Astros cleverness at the top, they were able to draft Lance McCullers Jr at pick 42. McCullers may have slid as much as any player in the first few rounds. He has huge upside and will likely require a bit extra thrown his way to convince him to stay away from the college bookstore this fall. It's hard not to be a fan of the Astros, and with one coy maneuver they've solidified themselves as a team I'm going to keep an eye on.