Mike Pelfrey pitched with a bum rotator cuff most of last year

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Mike Pelfrey is the defacto ace of the Mets staff. And, while he’s not elite or anything, he showed in 2010 that he can be a dependable starter. Which is nuts considering that, as the Daily News reports, he pitched most of the 2010 season with a messed up shoulder:

“I had a strained rotator cuff and a strained posterior capsule almost the whole season,” Pelfrey told the Daily News Thursday, a day before making his first Opening Day start Friday night against Florida. The 27-year-old righty is ready to be the Mets’ ace, a leadership role that he relished even as the No. 2 guy last year, when he decided to pitch through pain.

Based on the article it doesn’t seem as though Pelfrey or the team was risking anything health-wise by letting him pitch through it, but he certainly was in pain.  Notable, though, is that his season splits aren’t dramatic. His first half was better, but the second half was still pretty good. His strikeout rate went down, but he became a bit more stingy with the walks.  Even his second half was an improvement over anything he did in 2009.

The Mets biggest weakness this year is the rotation. If they’re going to have any shot to make a go of it in 2011, they’ll need Pelfrey to anchor the staff.  That’s no given, but assuming he’s feeling better this year than he did last year, it’s not a long shot either.

Yankees sign top two draft picks

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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.

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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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.