The news that prep right-hander Mike Vasil, who appeared at one point to be a likely top-10 or top-15 pick in this year's MLB draft, plans to withdraw his name from consideration -- more on what that means in a moment -- led to a few arguments on Twitter when I pointed out that this is a clearly suboptimal decision for the player. Many responses I received stemmed from confusion about what it means to "withdraw" from the MLB draft and what happens to players who choose to sign out of high school rather than attend college.
Vasil is committed to the University of Virginia, a program that has been very successful in recent years -- with one College World Series win and one loss in the CWS finals -- and that has produced many high draft picks, although they've mostly been position players. UVa also has a reputation for encouraging recruits to do what Vasil did -- take their names out of the draft entirely -- as Nate Kirby did a few years ago, eventually going to UVa, getting hurt his junior year and signing for a below-slot bonus when his post-draft physical revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament.
Players can indicate a disinclination to sign, either directly or by making a demand for a large signing bonus. In practice, this happens all the time and functions as a way to let teams know of a player's intentions without closing off the possibility of a life-changing financial offer. The current bonus-pool structure means teams almost never draft players without knowing before they make the selection whether the player will sign and for exactly how much.