Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Remnant of Ubaldo Jimenez could be coming to Classic Park

Ubaldo Jimenez is officially a key part of the Orioles' pitching staff.

Could a key part of the 2014 or 2015 Lake County Captains emerge because of Jimenez's decision to sign with the Orioles?

The Indians are receiving a compensatory draft pick for losing Jimenez, because they made him a one-year qualifying offer of $14.1 million. The figure isn't some random number General Manger Chris Antonetti concocted. The figure is the average salary of baseball's 125 highest-paid players. A qualifying offer must fall into this category to be tied to a compensation pick. 

As of now, the Indians will receive the 30th overall pick in this year's draft for losing Jimenez. The draft position could change depending on whether free agents Kendrys Morales, Nelson Cruz and Ervin Santana land with other teams.

This marks the second year of the current compensation system. Six teams received high compensation picks for losing free agents last year. Those picks fell into the 28th to 33rd overall slots. Three college and three high school players were selected with the picks.

Outfielder Aaron Judge (Yankees) and pitcher Ryne Stanek (Rays), who played at Fresno State and Arkansas, respectively,  didn't sign in time to play last season. They are candidates to begin their professional careers with full-season teams this season.

Pitcher Jason Hursh, the 33rd overall selection from Oklahoma State, played for Rome of the South Atlantic League last season. He quickly adapted to full-season baseball, going 1-1 with a .67 ERA in 27 innings. Hursh, coincidentally, was the player the Braves selected with the compensation pick they received for losing Michael Bourn to the Indians. The Braves made Bourn a qualifying offer, but the Indians didn't surrender a draft pick for signing him because top-10 picks are protected. The Indians selected high school outfielder Clint Frazier fifth overall in 2013. Frazier will likely begin this season with the Captains.

Draft picks often bring delayed gratification to minor-league affiliates. If the Indians select a high school player with their compensation pick, it's possible he joins the Captains in 2015 following a summer of seasoning in the rookie Arizona League.

The Captains are sitting in a desirable spot. The Indians own four picks in the first two rounds of this year's draft. They also own a competitive-balance pick, which currently rests at 37th overall.  Higher picks likely means more talent will be landing at Classic Park in 2014 and 2015 than in previous seasons.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy

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