The Mariners picked Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen with the second choice in the draft.
A surprise already. The Mariners had long been thought to be the destination for the top college hitter, Anthony Rendon. However, concerns about Rendon’s shoulder may have soured the team on him. Hultzen has a low-90s fastball, a plus changeup and a slider. He’s expected to move quickly after going 11-3 with a 1.57 ERA and a 148/17 K/BB ratio in 103 1/3 innings for Virginia this season.
Diamondbacks selected UCLA right-hander Trevor Bauer with the third overall pick.
Bauer, who did his best to copy Tim Lincecum’s delivery and his college results, struck out a whopping 203 batters while going 13-2 with a 1.25 ERA for UCLA this season. He doesn;t have Gerrit Cole’s fastball, but he works at 92-95 mph and his curve is an excellent second pitch. He should move quickly and potentially contribute to the Diamondbacks’ cause next year.
The Orioles took high school right-hander Dylan Bundy fourth.
Bundy, whose older brother was an eighth-round pick of the Orioles three years ago, was viewed by most as the top high school pitcher in the draft. He may not have ideal size at 6’1″, but he’s incredibly strong and he throws in the mid-90s consistently. He also has a good curve and slider for a high school product. The Orioles will have to try to sign him away from a University of Texas scholarship.
Royals picked high school outfielder Bubba Starling with the fifth pick.
The Royals were believed to prefer a college pitcher, but with Cole, Bundy and Hultzen all gone, it was tough for them to pass on the local outfielder with the enormous ceiling. Starling figures to be a tough sign; he’s also a highly regarded running quarterback already signed to Nebraska. With tremendous speed and power potential, he could be a superstar if everything clicks.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.