This is getting absolutely ridiculous.
Bryce Harper, who the Nationals are thought to be targeting with their No. 1 pick this June, hit for the cycle on Friday in the semifinals of the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) World Series. On Saturday he outdid himself, finishing 6-for-6 with 10 RBI and four home runs as the College of Southern Nevada advanced to the NJCAA World Series final.
Harper, a 17-year-old catcher, continues to amaze at the plate and is one of the most intriguing position players to ever enter the MLB draft. Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post ran an excellent profile about the kid last weekend and the great Jim Callis of Baseball America is also buying into the hype.
The Nats haven’t made anything official, but it’s fairly safe to assume that they like Harper and will grab him first overall in next month’s first-year player draft. The only issue now is signability, because Harper is expected to demand a contract greater than the record-breaking $15.67 million deal that was struck with Stephen Strasburg last summer. Lofty expectations? Sure. But it’s probably worth noting that Harper’s contract discussions will be under the supervision of super-agent Scott Boras.
After letting rumors of the deal percolate for the last week, the Athletics officially announced their two-year, $11 million contract with right-hander Santiago Casilla on Friday (and threw a little bit of shade at the Giants, too). As previously reported, the contract includes an extra $3 million in performance bonuses.
Casilla, 36, got his major league start with Oakland back in 2004, racking up a 5.11 ERA and four saves over six seasons in the A’s bullpen. After picking up a minor league deal with the Giants in 2010, the righty flitted in and out of the closing role with varying degrees of success. Notwithstanding a slight downturn in his production rate during the 2016 season, he earned 123 saves and a 2.42 ERA during the past seven years in San Francisco. Securing another closing role might be a little tougher across the Bay, however, with a bullpen that includes fellow closers Ryan Madson, Ryan Dull and Sean Doolittle.
Why is this man smiling? Man, I wouldn’t be smiling if I read what I just read.
This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility.
For the second straight year, Law ranks the Braves as the best system in baseball. Number two — making a big leap from last year’s number 13 ranking – is the New York Yankees. Dead last: the Arizona Diamondbacks, which Law says “Dave Stewart ritually disemboweled” over the past two years. That’s gotta hurt.
If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone.