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The 2023 Draft was a perfect storm for setting a new bonus record. The assigned pick values rose 9.9 percent, mirroring the growth in industry revenues, and there were two transcendent talents who stood out in an unusually deep talent pool.
Right-hander Paul Skenes and outfielder Dylan Crews led Louisiana State to a College World Series championship before going 1-2 in the Draft to the Pirates and Nationals. Skenes ranked with Stephen Strasburg as the greatest pitching prospects in Draft history, while Crews’ combination of offensive upside and all-around tools made him one of the most coveted college position players in the last decade.
Pittsburgh used the No. 1 overall pick on Skenes and signed him for $9.2 million, obliterating the previous mark of $8,416,300 set by Spencer Torkelson, the No. 1 overall choice of the Tigers in 2020. Crews went No. 2 to Washington and signed for $9 million, the second-highest bonus in Draft history.
Four players have received larger guarantees than Skenes via big league contracts, which were prohibited for draftees when the bonus-pool system was instituted in 2012. Strasburg (Nationals, 2009, No. 1 overall) commanded a deal that promised him $15,107,104, a figure that won’t be topped for many years to come. Mark Prior (Cubs, 2001, No. 2) landed a $10.5 million contract, Bryce Harper (Nationals, 2010, No. 1) signed a $9.9 million deal and Mark Teixeira (Rangers, 2001, No. 5) inked a $9.5 million contract.
List of Players with Bonuses $7 Million or More:
$9,200,000: Paul Skenes, Pirates, 2023 (No. 1 overall)
RHP, Louisiana State
$9,000,000: Dylan Crews, Nationals, 2023 (No. 2)
OF, Louisiana State
$8,416,300: Spencer Torkelson, Tigers, 2020 (No. 1)
3B, Arizona State
$8,190,000: Jackson Holliday, Orioles, 2022 (No. 1)
SS, Stillwater (Okla.) HS
$8,189,400: Druw Jones, Diamondbacks, 2022 (No. 2)
OF, Wesleyan School (Peachtree Corners, Ga.)
$8,100,000: Adley Rutschman, Orioles, 2019 (No. 1)
C, Oregon State
$8,000,000: Gerrit Cole, Pirates, 2011 (No. 1)
$8,000,000: Wyatt Langford, Rangers, 2023 (No. 4)
$7,922,000: Jack Leiter, Rangers, 2021 (No. 2)
$7,787,400: Bobby Witt Jr., Royals, 2019 (No. 2)
SS, Colleyville (Texas) Heritage HS
$7,700,000: Max Clark, Tigers, 2023 (No. 3)
OF, Franklin (Ind.) HS
*$7,500,000: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, 2009 (No. 1)
RHP, San Diego State
+$7,500,000: Bubba Starling, Royals, 2011 (No. 5)
OF, Gardner-Edgerton HS (Gardner, Kan.)
$7,500,000: Casey Mize, Tigers, 2018 (No. 1)
$7,230,000: Hunter Greene, Reds, 2017 (No. 2)
RHP, Notre Dame HS (Sherman Oaks, Calif.)
$7,221,200: Andrew Vaughn, White Sox, 2019 (No. 3)
$7,219,000: Termarr Johnson, Pirates, 2022 (No. 4)
2B, Mays HS (Atlanta)
$7,025,000: Joey Bart, Giants, 2018 (No. 2)
C, Georgia Tech
$7,005,000: Brendan McKay, Rays, 2017 (No. 4)
$7,000,825: Austin Martin, Blue Jays, 2020 (No. 5)
$7,000,000: Kyle Wright, Braves, 2017 (No. 5)
*Part of Major League contract.
+Bonus spread over multiple years via two-sport athlete rule.