More arm issues and maybe surgery for Scheppers?

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Tanner Scheppers was a consensus first-round talent who fell to the
Rangers in the second round of last week’s draft because of concerns
about the health of his shoulder and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com reports that two teams passed on him because they believe he has a 50-percent labrum tear that will eventually require surgery.

Here’s what Texas general manager Jon Daniels had to say about Scheppers’ status:

I’d prefer not to discuss specifics of Tanner’s medical situation
for two reasons: One, he’s not our player until he’s signed; and two,
I’m uncomfortable doing so in general. The best I can put it is this:
He was examined by Dr. [Keith] Meister before the draft. He was cleared
to be selected, with the understanding that there may be a heightened
level of risk versus other pitchers of a similar age and experience
level. We took him with eyes wide open and hope to sign him this summer.

This isn’t the first time that Scheppers’ shoulder has been an issue.
In fact, he went through a very similar situation last year when he
fell from likely first-round pick to the Pirates at No. 48 overall
after being diagnosed with a stress fracture.

Rather than sign for below-market money Scheppers opted to follow in
J.D. Drew’s footsteps by playing for the independent league St. Paul
Saints, where he stayed healthy and reestablished himself as a
top-notch prospect by flashing a mid-90s fastball and plus curveball.

As Mayo notes, “the Rangers clearly felt comfortable enough to
select Scheppers” while “others concluded the injury was too severe and
decided to pass.” He has until August 17 to sign this time around and
the Rangers seemingly wouldn’t have used a second rounder on him
without being willing to pony up above-slot money, but obviously that
would all change if he indeed needs to go under the knife.

Ironically, the Rangers received the No. 44 pick that they used to
select Scheppers as compensation for losing the oft-injured Milton
Bradley as a free agent.

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.