My question is how much the shift to starting the draft in the evening for TV will affect "signability picks."
Part of the strategy in landing signability guys was supposedly to scoop them up before the end of the day's picks, the idea being that a team could negotiate a bit more in-depth with them after the player sees that he could go undrafted. This is supposedly why those picks came from the Sox in the late teens in 2006 but Middlebrooks was grabbed in the 5th round (at the end of the day; another comparable pick might be Tim Mellville from last year's draft, going in the 4th round to KC).
Does the late start, and fewer picks that first night, have the potential to push the "signability guys" into even earlier rounds (where their talent would probably dictate they should go)?
The moving forward of some signability guys last year probably had more to do with the increasing recognition of a few clubs of the incredible value that such picks possess. With more teams aggressively pursuing signability type guys, teams need to pick the guys they really want earlier and earlier in the draft.
So, if we believe that last year was a trend toward a greater recognition by MLB of the value presented by players like Middlebrooks and Melville, we would expect more of these sorts of picks in the 4-8 rounds than in the past. I'd be pretty surprised if signability type picks manage to slide up into the third round. But, I'm still not sure what impact the economic situation will have on this years draft. Will it push teams toward investing more money in the draft as an attempt to create greater value per dollar spent? This would make competition for signability guys greater. Or, will the economic pressure push teams to cut costs and, since the draft doesn't have a great short term impact, will the draft be seen as a relatively painless place to do this?
I both think the latter option is more likely, and am hopeful that it could present an enormous opportunity for the Red Sox use their financial advantage to acquire tons of talent in this draft. But, how teams choose to spend in this draft will be a very interesting story to watch develop on draft day.