I’m not really a draftnik. Amateur baseball players are a far flung lot and it’s not easy to keep track of them unless you’re Keith Law or someone and it’s your job to keep track of them. With the exception of the Bryce Harpers and Stephen Strasburgs of the world, I usually begin to get to know prospects after they’re drafted, not before.
But I do always have fun hearing those familiar names:
Bloodlines run strong in the Grand Old Game, and this year’s Draft has an intriguing group of young thoroughbreds champing at the bit to hear their names called in the big leagues’ favorite June post parade, which will be held from June 6-8.
The names jump out at any baseball fan who’s been paying attention over the past decades. From Bichette to Bonilla, from Boras to Bream, from Dunston to Garvey to Guillen to Pudge (well, Rodriguez), you’re going to see serious big league progeny over the rounds of this year’s draft.
Dwight Smith, Jr., the son of former Cub Dwight Smith, may be the headlining legacy case. Lateral moves are present as well, with the son of Wayne Gretzky also in the pool this year. Steve Garvey’s son Ryan is another notable, but save your jokes: Ryan is the son of Steve and his wife Candace Garvey and was born after all of that ugly business that popped up in the wake of his first wife’s autobiography. A shame, really.
I think the most fun, though, is Shane Boras, son of Scott. I don’t know how much of a prospect he is, but it would awesome if he were a stud, got drafted high and then held out until the 11th hour for a big bonus, represented by his dad, who kept dropping sound bytes about how awesome he was.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.
According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.
Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.
While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.
Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.
More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.
Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.