Tick, tock: 13 first-round picks remain unsigned

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With the midnight deadline to sign draft picks looming the focus has obviously been on No. 1 overall pick and “greatest college pitcher since [fill in the blank]” Stephen Strasburg, but there also are a ton of other first rounders still unsigned. Here’s the complete list, as of noon today:

1.   Stephen Strasburg   RHP    Nationals
2.   Dustin Ackley       OF     Mariners
3.   Donavan Tate        OF     Padres
6.   Zach Wheeler        RHP    Giants
9.   Jacob Turner        RHP    Tigers
11.  Tyler Matzek        LHP    Rockies
12.  Aaron Crow          RHP    Royals
13.  Grant Green         SS     A's
14.  Matt Purke          LHP    Rangers
15.  Alex White          RHP    Indians
19.  Shelby Miller       RHP    Cardinals
22.  Kyle Gibson         RHP    Twins
30.  Levon Washington    OF     Rays

Everyone expected Strasburg and agent Scott Boras to drag things out until the last second, but with about 12 hours remaining until the deadline each of the top three picks and 13 of the first 30 picks are still unsigned. There are also plenty of prominent non-first rounders still negotiating, including Tanner Scheppers, who dropped to the Rangers at No. 44 after not signing last year.
There are last-minute signings every year, but it seems like there’s more uncertainty than ever on this deadline day, perhaps because teams are able to take a hard-line (or harder-line, at least) stance while knowing that not signing a first rounder will result in receiving a compensatory pick one slot down next June. In other words, the worst-case scenario no longer involves being left empty handed.
For the latest updates on all the signings, check out Rotoworld’s player news page and Baseball America‘s draft blog.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.