MLB Draft Winners

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Colorado – 11th overall pick Tyler Matzek was the best
high school pitcher in the draft, and outfielder Tim Wheeler and
left-hander Rex Brothers were nice grabs at No. 32 and No. 34,
respectively. Second-round third baseman Nolan Arenado also could have
been picked earlier. The Rockies could have gone cheap in order to free
up more cash for Matsek, who is sure to demand a big bonus, but they
decided to keep adding legitimate prospects. If they get everyone
signed, they’ll again have one of the most talented farm systems in the
league.

Kansas City – The Royals were believed to be considering
catcher Wil Myers at pick No. 12. They instead took Aaron Crow there,
only to find Myers still available when their next turn came up at No.
91. Crow, the Nationals’ first pick last year, is a future third
starter or closer. Fourth-round Chris Dwyer could be a third player to
command a seven-figure bonus.

Texas – 14th overall pick Matthew Purke and 44th
selection Tanner Scheppers were both viewed as top-10 talents by some.
Scheppers, who was drafted by the Pirates last year, fell because of
concerns about his shoulder, but he should be signable after already
sitting out one year after college. Third-rounder Robbie Erlin and
fifth-rounder Ruben Sierra Jr. also could have gone much earlier. The
Rangers probably won’t sign them all, but adding three of the four to
the system would be a nice coup. Unfortunately, the skeptic in me
wonders if Tom Hicks’ team took so many tough signs because the well is
empty and the team didn’t want to pay slot money to players who would
be more eager to take it.

And from the it could have been worse department…

Brody Colvin – Rated Baseball America’s No. 43 prospect,
Colvin, a high school righty, fell all of the way to the seventh round
and pick No. 227. However, once there, he landed with the Phillies, a
team that should be willing to spend after being the last team to make
its first pick Tuesday. Because of the Raul Ibanez signing, the
Phillies were without a first-rounder and didn’t draft until pick No.
75.

Kyle Heckathorn (RHP Brewers), Tyler Skaggs (LHP Angels), Kentrail Davis (OF Brewers)
– All three players may have expected to get the call in round one, but
slipping to the supplemental round wasn’t such a bad thing. Unlike true
first- and second-rounders, supplemental picks aren’t protected, so if
these players go unsigned, their teams won’t get bonus picks next year.
That will give the teams more incentive to sign the players.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.