Draft blog: Picks 6-15; Matt Harvey goes seventh to Mets

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Diamondbacks selected RHP Barret Loux with the sixth pick in the draft.
Loux has four solid pitches, including a low-90s fastball, and good command, traits that should speed his way to the majors. He lacks top-of-the-rotation upside, but he could be a factor before the end of 2011.
Mets selected RHP Matt Harvey with the seventh overall pick.
Harvey probably would have been a first-round pick in 2007 if not for some big-time bonus demands. He rejected an offer from the Angels and went to North Carolina, where he struggled for two years before pushing his stock back up this season. Harvey can throw in the mid-90s, but his curveball comes and goes. He’s more likely to make it in the majors as a short reliever than as a starter.
Astros selected high school outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. with the eighth pick in the draft.
DeShields offers great speed, and he should be a plus defender in center field. The Astros, though, will probably want to try him at second base, given Michael Bourn’s presence on the roster. He’s never going to show much power, but he could be a nice option at the top of the order someday.
Padres selected RHP Karsten Whitson with the ninth overall pick in the draft.
Good low-90s fastball and a nice slider made Whitson a pretty obvious first-round pick. Still, the thinking was that he’d go later. He needs to work on his changeup as he climbs the ladder, and he’s at least as much of an injury risk as the typical high school arm.
Athletics took outfielder Michael Choice with the 10th pick in the draft.
The scouts love Choice’s power, but they question whether he’ll make enough contact to turn into a star in the majors. He’s also not at all likely to stay in center field, though that was his position in college. He’d seem to have more bust potential than one would like to see in a top-10 pick.
Blue Jays took Georgia Tech RHP Deck McGuire with the 11th pick.
McGuire, 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, is a very polished college arm, making him a pretty typical Blue Jays pick. He probably won’t be more than a No. 3, but he should arrive quickly and maybe help Toronto next year. He throws in the low-90s and has a very good changeup.
Reds took Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal with the 12th pick in the draft.
Though they made a run at him, the Red Sox couldn’t sign Grandal as a 27th-rounder three years ago. A switch-hitting catcher with a very good defensive reputation, there was little doubt he’d be a high pick this time around. Still, while he has some power, he may struggle to make contact at higher levels. He has a pretty good shot of becoming a solid regular, but it’d be a surprise if he develops into an All-Star.
White Sox selected LHP Chris Sale with the 13th pick in the draft.
A 6-foot-6 left-hander, Sale works in the low-90s with a rather awkward delivery that has yet to produce a top-notch breaking ball. He does get some sink on his heater, and his changeup is promising. Still, unless he refines his slider in a hurry, he might be rather slow to develop for a college pitcher. Certainly, he won’t be pulling a Mike Leake next spring.
Brewers took RHP Dylan Covey with the 14th pick in the draft.
Covey throws in the low-90s and has a pretty good curve. His command is only average and his changeup is below, but he’s a talented high school arm with upside. Of course, the Brewers haven’t had a lot of luck with those guys recently.
Rangers selected outfielder Jake Skole with the 15th pick in the draft.
Skole missed much of his senior year of high school with an ankle injury, but he went in the first half of the first round anyway. He offers plenty of speed and he projects as a very good defensive center fielder. His bat is a question mark. He’s never going to hit for much power, but the hope is that he’ll make it as a leadoff guy. The Rangers will have to sign him away from Georgia.

Mariners sign reliever Joel Peralta

Joel Peralta
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Right-hander Joel Peralta has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Mariners that includes an invitation to spring training.

Peralta spent last season with the Dodgers and was limited to 29 innings by neck and back problems, posting a 4.34 ERA and 24/8 K/BB ratio. Los Angeles declined his $2.5 million option, making him a free agent.

He was one of the most underrated relievers in baseball from 2010-2014, logging a total of 318 innings with a 3.34 ERA and 342 strikeouts, but at age 40 he’s shown signs of decline. Still, for a minor-league deal and no real commitment Peralta has a chance to be a nice pickup for Seattle’s bullpen.

White Sox sign Mat Latos

Mat Latos
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Jerry Crasnick reports that the Chicago White Sox have signed Mat Latos.

Latos was pretty spiffy between 2010-2014, posting sub-3.50 ERAs each year.  Then the injuries came and he fell apart. He pitched for three teams in 2015 — the Dodgers, Angels, and Marlins — with a combined 4.95 ERA in 113 innings. And he didn’t make friends on those clubs either, with reports of clubhouse strife left in his wake.

In Chicago he gets a fresh start. It doesn’t come in a park that will do him any favors — Latos and U.S. Cellular Field don’t seem like a great match — but at this point beggars can’t be choosers.

 

Jason Castro loses arbitration hearing against Astros

Jason Castro
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Veteran catcher Jason Castro and the Astros went through with an arbitration hearing over a difference of $250,000 and the three-person panel ruled in favor of the team.

That means Castro will make $5 million this season rather than his requested amount of $5.25 million. This is his final year of arbitration eligibility, so the 29-year-old catcher will be a free agent after the season.

Castro showed a lot of promise early on, including making the All-Star team at age 26 in 2013, but since then he’s hit just .217 with a .650 OPS in 230 games. His power and pitch-framing skills are a valuable combination even within sub par overall production, so 2016 will be a key year for the former first-round draft pick.

Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Eminent Domain and the history of the Rangers Ballpark

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump addresses supporters at a campaign rally, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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Eminent Domain — the right of a government to take/buy private property for public use — and its implications has always been a controversial topic. It became far more controversial in the 1990s and early 2000s, however,  as the practice, which is intended for public projects like roads and stuff, was increasingly used in ways to help developers and businesses.

The controversy came to a head in the 2005 case Kelo v. City of New London in which the Supreme Court held that general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth — not just direct public works — qualified as a “public use” under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The upshot: if someone had a good argument that a shopping mall would benefit the community, Mr. Developer and the government can force you to sell them their house.

This led to a HUGE backlash, with property rights people freaking out about what seemed like a pretty clear abuse of governmental power serving the interests of developers. Some 44 states have since passed laws outlawing the use of Eminent Domain for purely economic development. Some of that backlash has gone too far in the other direction, with some laws getting passed which not only required compensation to landowners if land was taken, but merely if land was diminished in value.  Like, if the government passes an environmental regulation which makes your private, for-profit toxic waste dump less lucrative than it was, the government has to pay you. It’s crazy stuff, really. And all of those laws notwithstanding, the topic continues to be a controversial one, with battles over what, exactly, is “public” what is a “public good” and all of that raging on. It’s rather fascinating. At least for boring nerfherders like me.

In the recent GOP presidential debate Donald Trump and Jeb Bush got into it on the topic, with Trump — a real estate developer, or course — defending the use of Eminent Domain to take land for economic development and Bush — a really desperate dude who at this point will take ANY position he can if it’ll give him traction — opposing it. In the days since they’ve continued to fight about it, with Trump charging Bush with hypocrisy since his brother, George W., was an owner of the Texas Rangers when they built their new ballpark with the help of Eminent Domain.

Ahh, yes. We finally get to baseball.

Today Nathaniel Rakich of Baseballot digs into that project and looks at how it all played out against the Eminent Domain debate. It touches on stuff we talk about a lot around here: are ballparks engines of economic development or merely for the enrichment of ballclubs? If they are built by a municipality, are they public goods? Wait, how can they be public goods if you can’t just walk into them for free? And the arguments go on.

It’s fascinating stuff showing, once again, that the real world and baseball intersect all the dang time and it’s handy to have a handle on just how, exactly, it does so.