There’s not much left on the official agenda here in Indianapolis, but none of the fun stuff happens on the official agenda anyway. For what it’s worth:
The Rule 5 draft takes place at 9 A.M. this morning. Even the prospect junkies I’ve talked to here aren’t terribly excited about it. There’s no Josh Hamilton, Johan Santana, Dan Uggla or Joakim Soria in this crowd. Last year 21 players were selected. Only six saw major league playing time. Only three stuck all season with the teams that chose them. The draft is not going to make a tremendous difference for any team this year.
Among the potential pickees this year: Marlins outfielder John Raynor is mildly interesting. Marlins pitcher Arquimedes Caminero is too. D-backs pitcher Hector Ambriz is someone else who has been mentioned. You may have heard of Royals submarine pitcher Chris “Disco” Hayes, but really, his nickname is his biggest claim to fame. While submariners are evidence of all that is right and good in the universe, he’s basically a one-pitch pitcher.
Officially, that’s it. Unofficially, teams and agents will continue to talk about the Roy Halladays and Jason Bays of the world. But maybe not too intensely. Many of the movers and shakers have early flights today (assuming the high winds and frigid temperatures here in Indy don’t cancel them all). As a result, the biggest deals are likely to wait for a later day.
But CTB is still on the job. I’ll be blogging from the Marriott until they kick me out. Aaron and Matthew will be monitoring the interwebs as well. If it happens, we’ll tell you about it. If we miss it, we’ll make it up. If it’s wrong, we’ll blame Jon Heyman.
When he’s not throwing baseballs, Twins pitcher Trevor May is an active gamer. He streams on Twitch, a very popular video game streaming site, fairly regularly and now he’s officially on an eSports team. Luminosity Gaming announced the organization added May last Friday. It appears he’ll be streaming and commentating on Overwatch, a multiplayer first-person shooter made by Blizzard Entertainment.
May is the only current athlete to be an active member of an eSports team. Former NBA player Rick Fox owns Echo Fox, an eSports team that sports players in games including League of Legends, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Street Fighter V, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Mortal Kombat X. Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is also a known advocate of eSports.
The NBA in particular has been very active on the eSports front. Kings co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov launched NRG eSports in November 2015. Shortly thereafter, Grizzlies co-owner Stephen Kaplan invested in the Immortals eSports team. Almost a year later, the 76ers acquired controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Team Apex. The same month, the Wizards’ and Warriors’ owners launched a group called Axiomatic, which purchased a controlling stake in Team Liquid, a long-time Starcraft: Brood War website which has since branched out into other games. And also in September 2016, Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko bought team Renegades, moving them to a group house in Detroit. In December 2016, the Bucks submitted a deal to Riot Games in order to purchase Cloud9’s Challenger league spot for $2.5 million. The Rockets that month hired someone specifically for eSports development, focusing on strategy and investment. Last month, the Heat acquired a controlling stake in team Misfits.
Once an afterthought, eSports has grown considerably in recent years and now it should be considered a competitor to traditional sports. League of Legends, in particular, is quite popular, reaching nearly 15 million concurrent viewers at its peak in the most recent League of Legends World Championship. That championship featured a prize purse of $6.7 million with $2 million of it being split among winner SK Telecom T1’s members.
The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.
Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.