MLB Draft – Picks No. 17-24

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Diamondbacks selected Notre Dame outfielder A.J. Pollock with the 17th pick in the draft.
It was thought the Diamondbacks would probably take a hitter and a
pitcher with their back-to-back picks, but they’ve gone offense on
both. Pollock, a converted shortstop, shows potential in center field.
His power will be primarly in the form of doubles. Arizona probably
could have done better here, but saving money to sign all of the team’s
early picks likely was a factor.

Marlins selected high school LHP Chad James with the 18th pick in the draft.
James has plenty of upside with his low-90s fastball and hard curve. He
has a ways to go from a command standpoint, but he was a nice choice at
No. 18. On potential alone, he ranked as the top high school lefty in
the draft.

Cardinals selected high school RHP Shelby Miller with the 19th pick in the draft.
Miller has one of the fastballs in the draft, as he’s been known to top
out at 97-98 mph. He needs to tighten up his curve, come up with a
change and improve his command, but that’s what the minor leagues are
for.

Blue Jays selected Kennesaw State RHP Chad Jenkins with the 20th pick.
Jenkins has a sinking low-90s fastball and a plus slider. He’s also
displayed some potential with his changeup. He probably doesn’t have
more than third-starter upside and he may be more of a No. 4, but he
has the build and arsenal of a 200- or 220-inning guy.

Astros selected high school shortstop Jiovanni Mier with the 21st pick in the draft.
Mier is questionable to last at shortstop, and he probably won’t
possess the bat to be a major asset anywhere else. He’s probably not
more than a future 12-homer guy at best, and plate discipline is an
issue. He shouldn’t have gone in the first round.

Twins picked Missouri RHP Kyle Gibson 22nd overall.
A big surprise. Gibson was thought of as a top-10 pick before being
diagnosed with a stress fracture in his forearm. If it’s a one-time
injury, the Twins could have themselves a steal here. Gibson has No. 2
starter potential with his low-90s fastball, slider and changeup.

White Sox selected LSU outfielder Jared Mitchell with the 23rd pick in the draft.
Mitchell might have 20- or 25-homer ability, but his long swing could
lead to low averages. Also, he’s no sure thing to last in center field.
He has the raw speed, but he’s not a great defender right now and his
arm is below average. If he moves to left, he may not have the bat to
make it.

Angels selected high school outfielder Randal Grichuk with the 24th pick in the draft.
No one was expecting Grichuk to go in the first round. He has ample
power potential and could potentially be a 30-homer guy, but he may not
make a lot of contact and he’s limited defensively. The Angels will
likely stick him in left field.

Evan Gattis undergoes surgery for hernia; recovery is 4-6 weeks

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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news

One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.

Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.

Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.

Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.