LAFAYETTE — When Louisiana-Lafayette baseball coach Tony Robichaux met with Reagan Bazar for his exit meeting, he told the young pitcher he would likely be drafted and that it would be a good time to go.
Bazar listened. On Monday, Bazar, a 17th-round selection by the San Francisco Giants, boarded a plane for Arizona to begin his professional career.
“We were happy,” Robichaux said. “Nobody’s worked harder than Reagan. He came out of high school a little bit of a project, and we are so fortunate to have had him for the years we had him.
“He’s really worked hard, a lot of people don’t see how hard these guys work because they’re not at practice every day.”
It was also hard for people to see the fruits of Bazar’s labor because of his limited work load. After saving six games and gaining some acclaim for his high-octane fastball as a freshman, Bazar logged just 22.2 innings the past two years combined.
Robichaux said the relative lack of playing time had nothing to do with Bazar’s ability. He said this age of college baseball, where every outcome is important, makes it harder to give players a chance to develop on the field. Bazar won’t face the same issues professionally.
“Pro ball can give him what he needs now, and he needs innings where he can continue to develop and not have to worry about always winning and losing,” Robichaux said. “College baseball is a unique thing. The development in college baseball has really diminished since the RPI came in, because everybody is trying to win every game, every game is a conference game.”
With Bazar choosing the professional route, there are two more decisions Robichaux and the Cajuns must wait for.
Signees Todd Lott (20th round, Cincinnati Reds) and Handsome Monica (33rd round, Atlanta Braves) have not yet given the coach an indication of whether they will arrive on campus or elect to play professionally. It’s too early in that process, Robichaux said.
What he did say is that the major leagues have gotten smarter about how they draft, making it harder for college programs to retain their draft-eligible underclassmen and signees.
Each team has a maximum amount of bonus money allotted for each of the first 10 rounds. In rounds 11-40, teams can offer bonuses of up to $100,000 before cutting into their total bonus pool.
College seniors have no leverage when it comes to signing bonus negotiations, which allows teams to dip into their reserves for late round draft picks.
“These guys are drafting more and more seniors in the first 10 rounds, and it’s giving them more and more money at the back end of the draft,” Robichaux said. “When it first started, they didn’t have a lot of money at the back end of the draft.”
After the draft, Robichaux said he looks at how much available money each team that drafts one of his players has in its bonus pool. At $13,923,700, Cincinnati has the highest bonus pool in the league; Atlanta, at $13,319,600, has the third-highest.
From there, Robichaux will look at how many college seniors each team drafted to see how it might try to allocate its resources for the later rounds. To close out the top 10 rounds, Cincinnati drafted four straight college seniors, and Atlanta drafted five straight.
“That tells you they’ve got left over pool money,” Robichaux said. “That’s what worries us.”