What are the Biggest High School MLB Draft Signing Bonuses Ever?
Every year top baseball prospects are signed to MLB teams with some hefty signing bonuses. Recent high school graduates, college players, and college graduates are all vying for an opportunity to play professional baseball. High school players have received some of the most significant signing bonuses the MLB has given; this blog will discuss who those players are.
How Do MLB Draft Signing Bonuses work
Once a player is drafted to an MLB team, they are given a signing bonus from that MLB team, which is considered an incentive for that player to join their team. After they agree to sign with that MLB team, they are usually assigned a Minor League team to play for and a designated salary depending on the level they play. The minor league salaries are meager compared to MLB salaries and even working minimum wage. Therefore receiving a large signing bonus is very helpful.
High School MLB Draftees
Entering the MLB Draft right out of high school can be an added benefit instead of attending college and waiting until after your junior season. High school baseball players who enter the MLB Draft have more leverage over an MLB team than baseball players in college. High school baseball players can negotiate a higher signing bonus because they can threaten to decline the offer and attend college.
Let's say a high school baseball player gets drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks, and they begin negotiating the contract, which includes the signing bonus. The high school player could ask the Arizona Diamondbacks organization for an increase in the signing bonus, and if it's not met, he will decline the offer and go to play baseball at college. The Arizona Diamondbacks organization has to decide if the player is worth it to them. If the high school player declines the offer from the Arizona Diamondbacks, they would not be able to choose that player again when he enters the draft following his junior baseball season of college.
Most prominent High School MLB Draft Signing Bonuses
High school baseball players are always getting drafted in the MLB Draft each year, sometimes even first. There is no telling of high school players' ability to compete against those who have a couple of years of college ball in them already. Here are some of the top high school baseball players who had the biggest MLB draft signing bonuses:
- Bryce Harper signed for $6.25 million in 2010
- Tim Beckham signed for $6.15 million in 2008
- Eric Hosmer signed for $6 million in 2008
- Brendan Rogers signed for $5.5 million in 2015
- Zach lee signed for $5.25 million in 2011
Bryce Harper entered the draft right out of high school and was the 1st overall draft pick in 2010 by the Washington Nationals with a signing bonus of $6.25 million. He is now 28 years old and plays for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Bryce Harper had played as a catcher for most of his life, but the Washington Nationals drafted him as an outfielder in hopes he would move up to playing in the MLB sooner. He quickly moved his way up through the minors with much success, and he made his MLB appearance with the Washington Nationals in 2012, wearing number 34.
Bryce Harper has gone on to play a very successful career where he has accumulated numerous awards, including
- NL Rookie of the Year in 2012
- NL MVP in 2015
- Silver Slugger Award in 2015
- NL Hank Aaron Award in 2015
- NL Home Run Leader in 2015
- 6x All-Star in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018
In 2019 Bryce Harper signed a 13-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies for $330 million. The contract set the record for largest MLB contract until 2020, when Mike Trout signed a contract worth $426.5 million. Bryce Harper has seen success in the MLB and continues to shock people with his ability as a baseball player.
Tim Beckham entered the draft right out of high school and was the 1st overall draft pick in 2008 by the Tampa Bay Rays with a signing bonus of $6.15 million. His senior year of high school, he committed to attending the University of Southern California but always intended to enter the MLB Draft and turn pro.
Time Beckham spent his first few years playing on various minor league teams until he got the opportunity to play in his first MLB game in 2013 as a pinch hitter against the Texas Rangers. He had mainly played in the outfield or shortstop for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Tim Beckham has not spent his entire baseball career with the Tampa Bay Rays. He has been traded to other teams, including playing with the following MLB teams
- Tampa Bay Rays from 2013, 2015-2017
- Baltimore Orioles from 2018-2019
- Seattle Mariners in 2019
- Chicago White Sox in 2020
Tim Beckham spent one year with the Seatle Mariners before becoming a free agent. Eventually, he signed a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox organization, where he now plays.
Eric Hosmer entered the draft right out of high school and was the 3rd overall draft pick in 2008 by the Kansas City Royals with a signing bonus of $6 million. In high school, he was named one of the top 5 prep baseball players in the country by many scouting agencies.
Like nearly every MLB drafted player, Eric Hosmer spent his first few years playing in the minor leagues. The Royals farm system, their designated minor league teams, was the best in MLB baseball entering the 2011 season.
In 2011 Eric Hosmer made his MLB debut playing first base against the Oakland Athletics. Since his time in the MLB, Eric Hosmer has accumulated various awards, including
- World Series Champion in 2015
- All-Star in 2016
- Silver Slugger Award in 2017
- 4x Gold Glove Award in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017
Eric Hosmer now plays for the San Diego Padres. In 2018 he signed an eight-year contract for $144 million, which was the largest contract in the San Diego Padres organization's history at the time. He has continued to find success through his baseball career, now playing for the San Diego Padres.
Brendan Rogers entered the draft right out of high school and was the 3rd overall draft pick in 2015 by the Colorado Rockies with a signing bonus of $5.5 million. During his sophomore year of high school, Brendan Rogers verbally committed to attend Florida State University. Things turned out differently; Brendan Rogers decided to enter the MLB Draft right out of high school and selected the Colorado Rockies.
Brendan Rogers spent his first few years moving his way up through the minor leagues. In 2019 he made his MLB debut against the Philadelphia Phillies. He was able to play during the shortened 2020 season until he got injured and has been out since with another injury.
Zach Lee entered the draft right out of high school and was the 28th overall draft pick in 2011 by the Los Angeles Dodgers with a signing bonus of $5.25 million. Not only was he a standout baseball player in high school, but he was also a top-rated quarterback in football.
Zach Lee had committed to play baseball and football at Louisiana State University, making it difficult for an MLB club to sign him due to his commitment to play football. Many believe he was picked much later in the draft, even though he had the talent to be selected much earlier. He ultimately decided to go down the path to play baseball and is now 29 years old and plays for the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.
Zach Lee began his MLB career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he made his MLB debut in 2015, after his time spent in the minors. He has been traded and signed too many different teams in the past five years, including
- He was traded to the Seattle Mariners in 2016
- He played for the San Diego Padres in 2016
- He signed a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays in March 2018
- He signed a minor-league deal with the New York Mets in December 2018
- He signed a minor league contract with Oakland athletics in 2019
- He signed a minor-league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2021
There are so many talented baseball players all vying for the opportunity to play in the MLB. Those drafted right out of high school and did not get the experience of playing in college have proven to be a force in the MLB. Each player's journey to play professionally and make their way to the MLB is different. It can be interesting to see how incredible these players who are drafted right out of high school move their way to play in the MLB. Especially to see how the few high school players with the biggest high school MLB Draft signing bonuses have paved their way in their MLB careers.