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.

How Yu Darvish tipped his pitches during the World Series

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You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.

Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.

Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.

Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.