Jim Callis of Baseball America just published his first mock draft with about four weeks to go until the actual picks start on June 4.
The whole thing is worth reading, as Callis gives plenty of analysis along with the projected picks, but to whet your appetite he has the Astros selecting Stanford pitcher Mark Appel with the No. 1 pick and the Twins taking Georgia high school outfielder Byron Buxton with the No. 2 pick.
This year’s draft lacks a clear-cut top choice and the consensus seems to be that the overall level of high-end talent is lacking, but Appel has been the most talked-about college player since before the season started and Buxton is widely viewed as the high schooler with the most upside.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.