Robert Stephenson

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.

Kyle Hendricks and Adam Warren will compete for No. 5 spot in Cubs’ rotation

Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks throws during the first inning of Game 3 of the National League baseball championship series against the New York Mets Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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Expect Kyle Hendricks and Adam Warren to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Cubs’ starting rotation this spring, writes Gordon Wittenmyer for the Chicago Sun-Times. Clayton Richard could serve as a fallback option as well.

Hendricks, 26, pitched well in his first full season in 2015. He finished with a 3.95 ERA and a 167/43 K/BB ratio over 180 innings. That was a solid follow-up to his rookie campaign in 2014, when he posted a 2.46 ERA over 13 starts.

The Cubs acquired Warren, 28, from the Yankees in the Starlin Castro trade. He contributed both out of the rotation and the bullpen in the Bronx this past season, pitching 131 1/3 innings with a 3.29 ERA and a 104/39 K/BB ratio.

One through four, the Cubs’ rotation is solid with defending National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Jason Hammel.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson plans to limit David Wright to 130 or fewer games

David Wright
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Mets third baseman David Wright missed four months of the 2015 season due to spinal stenosis. In other words, Wright dealt with a narrowing of his spinal column. Going forward, the Mets plan to be cautious with Wright so as not to overuse him.

As ESPN’s Adam Rubin reports, Mets GM Sandy Alderson plans to have the 33-year-old Wright play in no more than 130 games. Alderson said, “We’re gonna make sure that he’s not overworked. So it’s important for us to find somebody who can play 30 games or so at third base when he’s not in there. But I think we have to be realistic, and not expect that he’s gonna be an absolute everyday [player] out there playing 150 or 155 games. That’s not gonna happen.”

Wilmer Flores played 26 games at third base in his rookie season in 2013, so he could back up Wright as needed. But Alderson mentioned that because Wright would mostly sit against right-handed pitchers, the switch-hitting Neil Walker or Asdrubal Cabrera could get the call at the hot corner.

When he was on the field last season, Wright hit a productive .289/.379/.434 with five home runs and 17 RBI in 174 plate appearances.

Marlins still searching for starting pitching depth

Aaron Harang
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The Marlins would like to add “another pitcher or two” before pitchers and catchers report to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. Among starting pitchers available, Kyle Lohse, Aaron Harang, and Alfredo Simon are candidates for the Marlins, but they may hold out for the possibility of inking a major league contract. Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee are other potential candidates, per Frisaro.

This offseason, the Marlins signed Wei-Yin Chen to a five-year, $80 million deal and Edwin Jackson for the major league minimum. The back of the rotation, though, is still a question mark as Jarred Cosart, Adam Conley, and Justin Nicolino will compete with Jackson for two spots. David Phelps is dealing with an elbow injury and may or not be ready by Opening Day, but he could function in a swingman capacity as well.

Shocker: Bruce Bochy tabs Madison Bumgarner to start Opening Day

Madison Bumgarner
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You might want to sit down for this news. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has tabbed ace Madison Bumgarner to start on Opening Day in Milwaukee against the Brewers, CSN Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic reports. Shocking, I know.

The Giants had a busy offseason, adding Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to the starting rotation, but neither had a shot at getting the Opening Day nod considering what Bumgarner has done for the Giants over the last five seasons.

Since the start of the 2011 season, the 26-year-old lefty compiled a 3.05 ERA with 1,034 strikeouts and 239 walks across 1,050 innings. Among starters who logged at least 800 innings in that span of time, only Clayton Kershaw, Cueto, Zack Greinke, David Price, and Felix Hernandez have posted lower ERAs.  And Bumgarner is the only one among them with a championship ring. In fact, he has three.