Dodgers’ 2018 1st-round MLB Draft pick J.T. Ginn is going to Mississippi State

J.T. Ginn

With the MLB Draft deadline about 19 hours away, the Dodgers and their fans were dealt quite the blow on Thursday night.

Right-handed pitcher J.T. Ginn had a strong commitment to Mississippi State University, and he will honor it. It isn’t known how much the Dodgers offered him to forego college, but Jon Heyman reported a couple weeks ago they had offered him north of $2 million. The slot-recommended signing bonus for the No. 30 pick was $2,275,800.

It’s probably no coincidence that the Dodgers will reportedly give 2nd-rounder Michael Grove a signing bonus that’s roughly $300,000 over slot, and they nabbed left-handed pitcher 15th-round pick Julian Smith with a $152,500 bonus ($27,500 counts against the Dodgers’ pool).

Regardless, this is a big blow, as the Dodgers lose the nearly $2.3 million from their bonus pool, making it difficult to go much over slot for some of the unsigned post-10th-rounders. They do, however, get the 31st overall selection in the 2019 draft, meaning they’ll have some extra money to play with then. Silver linings and all.

We’ll have a full draft update tomorrow once the deadline passes and/or all the picks are signed or unsigned. We know 38th-rounder Connery Peters already said he was going to college, but maybe with Ginn not signing, the Dodgers might be able to throw some extra money at 14th-rounder RHP Brandon White (prep), 15th-rounder  RHP Trey Dillard (JUCO), 24th-rounder OF Jacen Roberson (prep) or 40th-rounder Ben Specht (prep). Though with the lowest bonus pool to begin with, this isn’t a situation where they had extra money like when Kyle Funkhouser went back to school after the 2015 draft.

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When the Dodgers used their 1st-round pick on Ginn, it seemed like a good value pick. He wasn’t really identified as a tough signing, but as the process moved along, his thoughts of going to MSU become more real. He’ll now be draft-eligible as a sophomore in 2020.

The Top 3 players on my board at the time of the 30th pick were Parker Meadows, Ethan Hankins and Shane McClanahan. Meadows got a $2.5 million signing bonus as the 44th overall selection from Detroit, Hankins got a $2,246,022 bonus as the 35th overall selection from Cleveland, and McClanahan, the 31st overall selection (Tampa Bay), remains unsigned (and he might not sign). I have to think if they had popped Meadows or Hankins, they could have gotten them to sign, but hindsight is undefeated.

This is the second time the Dodgers have failed to sign a 1st-round pick in the Billy Gasparino era, with the aforementioned Funkhouser being the first. He was technically a supplemental 1st-rounder, but it still counts.

Ginn’s premium arm was going to fit in quite well into the org, but now this draft will depend on Grove regaining his previous form or the Dodgers hitting on a player outside the Top 2 rounds. Even then, losing Ginn’s upside definitely puts a damper on the entire draft. Maybe the Dodgers can make it up on the international front, we’ll see. Here’s hoping next year the Dodgers can, you know, sign their 1st-rounder. That’d be swell.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.