Marcus Stroman

First-round winners and losers from the MLB draft

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Sure, one generally has to wait four or five years to really sit back and analyze how a draft turned out. But why let that stop us from picking some winners and losers from Monday evening’s first round.

Winners

Dodgers – Corey Seager will likely prove to be a tough sign, but the high school shortstop had the talent to go well above pick No. 18. Kyle’s younger brother has superior power and rates as one of the class’s few potential All-Stars, though it will probably be at third base. Now the Dodgers only need to ink him.

Lucas Giolito – Despite missing his entire senior season with a sprained UCL — that’s the Tommy John ligament — Giolito got taken 16th overall by a Nationals team that could well prove aggressive enough to sign him. Giolito, a right-handed pitcher out of Harvard-Westlake high school in California, was a favorite to go first overall before the injury. The Nationals may have just gotten the draft’s most talented player for the third time in four years.

Marcus Stroman – The one pure reliever drafted in round one, Stroman went to a team in the Blue Jays that isn’t afraid to be aggressive with top prospects. It could lead to him making his major league debut later this year. Stroman, a 5’9″ right-hander out of Duke, has closer potential with his mid-90s fastball and power curve. The Jays made him their second first-round pick, taking him 22nd overall.

Yankees – The Yankees have made a lot of questionable first-round picks in recent years — Ian Kennedy rates as their best since Derek Jeter in 1992 — but they appeared to get very good value with high school right-hander Ty Hensley at No. 30 overall tonight. Most expected the big right-hander to go in the middle of the round.

Losers

Mark Appel – Most every mock draft had the Astros taking the Stanford right-hander first overall, but the team made the last-minute decision, according to GM Jeff Luhnow, to go with Correa instead. Whether that was because of Appel’s bonus demands is something that could become clear in the coming days. Regardless, it seems clear Appel was none too happy to fall to the Pirates at No. 8. He declined to talk to the press afterwards, instead releasing a statement that read: “I’m currently concentrating on winning a national championship and finishing my academic endeavors at Stanford. I will address the possibility of a professional career in due time.”

Cardinals – St. Louis got to draft 19th and 23rd overall, but failed to come away with a particularly exciting prospect. RHP Michael Wacha, the 19th pick, went about where most believed he would, but outfielder James Ramsey, a college senior, was considered an overdraft. Perhaps the Cardinals were thinking ahead: they did take well regarded third baseman Stephen Piscotty in the supplemental round and could use some Ramsey savings on him.

Jesus Montero – He wants to be a catcher, but the Mariners’ selection of Mike Zunino third overall suggests that Montero is bound for the DH spot. Zunino is an above average defensive catcher with pretty good power from the right side of the plate. He doesn’t project as an All-Star, but he should be a very solid regular.

Mets owners get some breathing room on their Bernie Madoff settlement payments

New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon stands on the field before baseball's Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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For years the central fact of life of the New York Mets has been that their owners, the Wilpon family and Saul Katz, lost a ton of money after investing it with friend and business partner Bernard Madoff, perpetrator of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. It has hampered their payroll and led to huge amounts of borrowing and restructuring that, before last year’s pennant run, seemed like it’d be a millstone on the Mets competitive prospects for years to come.

In addition to losing money, it was later determined that Katz and the Wilpons unfairly gained in some other respects and thus they ended up having their phony earnings clawed back via a settlement with the trustee managing the fallout of the Madoff scandal.  The upshot: the Wilpons and Katz, in addition to their losses, were ordered to pay nearly $60 million dollars back, half payable this week, half payable next year. That’s a lot of money for anyone to fork over and this week’s payment loomed large.

Now, however, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Wilpons and Katz will get some breathing room. Specifically, they have modified their agreement with the trustee and some of the owed money has been deferred. Instead of some $29 million payable this week, they will only have to pay $16 million. The remainder will be paid in four installments — from 2017 through 2020 — with an interest rate of 3.5 percent on the unpaid balance, Rubin says.

Now, there obviously was no promise that the $13 million saved this week be invested in the baseball team, but it’s probably a good thing overall for the Mets if their owners’ debt payments are reduced a bit.

Mike Napoli hit a homer for a fan with cancer

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 30: Mike Napoli #26 of the Cleveland Indians rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field on May 30, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Last night a fan named Kathi Heintzelman showed up at Progressive Field in Cleveland with a sign asking Indians first baseman Mike Napoli to hit a home run for her and to give her a hug. But there was a reason beyond her love for Mike Napoli. She’s starting chemotherapy today and the hug and homer would be a nice thing.  Hard to disagree with that, even if everyone knows that ballplayers can’t hit homers on demand.

Well, most players can’t. Mike Napoli did the easy part before the game, giving her a hug. Then in the sixth inning, he went yard:

 

Whether you believe that such things can be fated or if you merely acknowledge that Heintzelman asked Napoli for a homer at a good time — he’s on a hot streak right now and has hit bombs in four of his last 11 games — it’s a great story.

 

The Twins recall Byron Buxton

Byron Buxton
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Byron Buxton has been recalled from Triple-A Rochester by the Twins.

Buxton will replace Danny Santana, who was placed on the disabled list following a hamstring injury. But the bigger picture here is that Buxton will get a fresh go-around to show that he is the future of the Twins like so many assume he will be. The 22-year-old hasn’t hit so far in the majors, but he batted .336/.403/.603 with six homers, four steals, and a 26/11 K/BB ratio over 129 plate appearances after his demotion to Triple-A last month.

At this point the Twins, who stink on ice, need to just put their top young player in the game and let him learn to swim at the big league level rather than try to squeak out a few extra relatively meaningless wins with guys who won’t be part of the next contending Twins team.

92-year-old World War II vet throws a nifty ceremonial first pitch

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Think of how many bad ceremonial first pitches you’ve seen. From the worm burners from local business owners and pillars of the community at minor league games to ex-big leaguers who obviously haven’t picked up a ball since they retired to the famous celebrity ones that go viral the next day, there are probably a lot more bad first pitches out there than good ones.

But when the good ones come, they’re really enjoyable. And few are more enjoyable than the one which preceded yesterday’s Padres-Mariners game in Seattle. The pitcher: Burke Waldron, a 92-year-old veteran of World War II. He did it in his dress whites. He ran out onto the field beforehand. And though his catcher didn’t set up the full 60 feet, six inches away from where Waldron threw it, it was still a spiffy pitch. Way better than most: