Joel Zumaya fractured his elbow in an ugly scene back in June and underwent surgery in early July. It looked like he would have a lengthy road back to a major league mound — and he still might — but Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told James Schmehl of MLive.com yesterday that he expects the big right-hander to be ready for spring training.
“(Zumaya’s) recovery is fine. We expect him to be 100 percent when he reports for spring training,” Dombrowski said. “They’ll all pitch at important times. If Joel is healthy, we know he’ll be getting the ball and getting a lot of important outs, no matter when you use him.”
Zumaya, 26, posted a 2.58 ERA and 34/11 K/BB ratio over 38 1/3 innings before going down with the injury. Known for lighting up the radar gun, Zumaya has a long history of injuries and also underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in August of 2009.
The Tigers hope to have him ready for spring training, but with Phil Coke expected to get a shot at the rotation, it’s easy to see why the Tigers felt compelled to add Joaquin Benoit as the top set-up man for Jose Valverde. That doesn’t make handing him a three-year, $16.5 million contract any less questionable, though.
The Yankees signed first-round draft pick Clarke Schmidt and second-round pick Matt Sauer on Saturday, per a team announcement. Schmidt, a right-hander from the University of South Carolina, is set to earn a signing bonus of $2,184,300. According to MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin, that’s much lower than the typical $3+ million allocated for a No. 16 overall pick. The opposite is true for Sauer, whose projected $2.5 million signing bonus tops the suggested $1.2 million reserved for a No. 54 pick.
Schmidt, 21, boasts an impressive four-pitch repertoire and profiles as a front-end or mid-rotation starter, according to reports from Yankees’ VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer and ESPN’s Keith Law, among others. He carried a 4-2 record through nine starts in 2017 and turned in a 1.34 ERA before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last month to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow. While the Yankees won’t see him pitch at any level until late 2018, they seem confident in his makeup and ability to rebound over the next couple of years.
Fellow right-hander and Righetti High School senior Matt Sauer is a different story altogether. The 18-year-old hurler appears destined for the bullpen with a polished fastball-slider combo and a promising curveball and changeup. He dazzled on the mound this year, going 9-1 with an 0.98 ERA and two shutouts over 78 1/3 innings. While the Yankees seem most interested in his pitching skills, Sauer showed some pop at the plate as well, touting a .427 average with 24 RBI through 135 plate appearances.
The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.
Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:
Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:
In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.
The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.