Anthony Rendon - Rice

2011 MLB Draft – picks 6-10: Anthony Rendon slips to Nationals at No. 6


Nationals picked Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon sixth in the draft.

Rendon didn’t slip too far after all. There are concerns that he might need shoulder surgery and he’s battled ankle injuries, but he had the most polished bat in the draft. He’s an interesting fit with the Nationals, who already have Ryan Zimmerman at third. It’s possible he’ll move to second. Rendon hit .327/.520/.523 for Rice this year. His power production was down, but the hope is that he’ll be a 20- or 25-homer per year guy down the line.

Diamondbacks selected high school right-hander Archie Bradley seventh overall.

Bradley is a quarterback prospect headed to Oklahoma, so it’s a bit of an interesting choice for the Diamondbacks here. Since this the compensation pick for them not signing Barrett Loux last year, they won’t get another selection next year if they fail to get Bradley signed. On talent, Bradley deserved to go somewhere in this neighborhood. He has a great build at 6’4″, 225 pounds, and he throws 93-96 mph with a strong curve.

Indians selected high school infielder Francisco Lindor with the eighth pick in the draft.

There was speculation that Lindor might go to the Mariners second overall, but it’s Cleveland instead. The 17-year-old is a legitimate shortstop with good speed. Whether he’ll develop much in the way of power remains to be seen. The Indians would likely be happy if he just turns out to be a nice .280-batting, top-of-the-order hitter. Don’t expect to see him in the majors for five years or so.

The Cubs took high school infielder Javier Baez ninth.

It’s hard not to wonder if the Cubs were disappointed to see Lindor go one pick earlier. Baez may have at least as much upside, but he’s more of a project with his subpar plate discipline. He should have the power to play third if he’s never able to push Starlin Castro off shortstop. The Cubs, though, surely will develop him at short for now.

Padres took juco infielder Cory Spangenberg with the 10th pick.

Spangenberger can put his bat on just about anything, and he should be good for plenty of singles and doubles as he climbs through the San Diego system. His power is something of a question mark, and it’s doubtful he’ll be strong enough to hit many balls out of Petco. The bigger issue is his lack of a position. The Padres will try him at either second or third, but he might end up in an outfield corner.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.