2011 MLB Draft – picks 26-33: Reds select high school right-hander Robert Stephenson

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Red Sox selected high school catcher Blake Swihart with the 26th overall pick in Monday’s draft.

Swihart has great arm strength, but the Red Sox could quickly decide to move him away from catcher to save his legs. The 19-year-old from New Mexico swings well from both sides of the plate and could develop 20-homer potential. He’s committed to Texas, so the Red Sox will have to lure him away from college life.

Reds selected high school right-hander Robert Stephenson 27th overall.

With most of the high-profile college pitchers already selected, the Reds went with a young right-hander with some serious upside. Best known for throwing back-to-back no-hitters this season, Stephenson sits in the low-to-mid 90s with his heater and throws a promising curveball. Standing at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, there’s still some projection left.

Braves selected FSU left-hander Sean Gilmartin with the 28th pick. 

The Braves don’t go the college route in the first round very often, but they were known to be on the lookout for a left-hander. While Gilmartin doesn’t have the ceiling of current Braves’ left-hander Mike Minor, he is similarly known for his plus-changeup.

Giants picked St. John’s shortstop Joe Panik 29th overall.

It’s bit of a reach, as there were players with higher upside (Michael Levi) left on the board at the time, but the Giants decided to play it safe and draft for slot. Panik, a left-handed hitter, may eventually have to move to second base due to his arm, but could be a No. 2 hitter because of his pitch recognition and contact ability.

Twins selected North Carolina shortstop Michael Levi with the 30th overall pick in the draft.

If Michael was a lock to stay at shortstop, he would have gone in the top 15. Many, though, believe he’s destined to end up at second base. He has a nice all-around bat and pretty good speed. He’s also about as close to the majors as any college position player in the draft.

Rays selected LSU outfielder Mikie Mahtook with the 31st overall pick.

Quite a nice get for the Rays, as Mahtook fell a bit from early projections. The 21-year-old led the Southeastern Conference this season in stolen bases, walks and slugging percentage. The big question is whether he’ll be able to stick in center field. If he does, he has the chance to be a solid regular.

Rays selected high school shortstop Jake Hager with the 32nd overall pick in the draft.

Hager would be a reach under normal circumstances, but the Rays have so many picks that they can afford to gamble on someone who may take a few years to develop. While the 6-foot-1 shortstop has a commitment with Arizona State, it’s very likely he’ll be swayed if he is paid first-round money.

Rangers selected high school left-hander Kevin Matthews with the 33rd pick.

Matthews is a bit undersized at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, yet he still manages to sit in the low-90s with his heater. However, with durability concerns, it’s very likely he ends up in the bullpen in the long-term. The young southpaw is currently committed to the University of Virginia, though the Rangers don’t expect to have trouble signing him.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.