Robert Beary, Tyler Naquin

MLB draft picks 11-15: A’s, Mets pick high school shortstops

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No. 11 – Oakland Athletics – high school SS Addison Russell

The A’s buck their trend and go with a high school player in the first round for the first time since the Jeremy Bonderman selection had Billy Beane throwing chairs in 2001. Russell projects as a third baseman in the eyes of most, but the A’s will probably leave him at shortstop for now. He’s a right-handed hitter with 15- or 20-homer potential.

No. 12 – New York Mets – high school shortstop Gavin Cecchini

The Mets drafted Cecchini as a shortstop, but many believe he’ll move to second base. His brother, Garin, was a fourth-round pick of the Red Sox two years ago. Cecchini has great speed and some doubles power. There probably isn’t any superstar potential here, but he has a better chance of becoming a regular than most of the other high school guys under consideration in round one.

No. 13 – Chicago White Sox – high school OF Courtney Hawkins

At 6’3″, 220 pounds, Hawkins offers big-time power. He’s a center fielder at the moment, but he’ll probably end up in right field, where his arm should be a big-time asset. His ability to make contact will be the question mark as he enters pro ball. The home runs might come with all too many strikeouts.

No. 14 – Cincinnati Reds – high school RHP Nick Travieso

The 18-year-old Travieso offers a 91-94 mph fastball and an excellent slider that should be a strikeout pitch in the majors. If he had a better changeup, he likely would have gone higher. He’ll have plenty of time to work on that now, though.

No. 15 – Cleveland Indians – Texas A&M OF Tyler Naquin

Naquin is a left-handed hitter with gap power, but some were skeptical about him as a bit of a tweener: he may not have the speed for center or the bat for a corner. The Indians obviously think he’ll be more than a fourth outfielder. He did have nice numbers this season, batting .380/.458/.541 in 242 at-bats for the Aggies.

 

Pick 1: Astros select shortstop Carlos Correa                          .

Picks 2-5: Mariners take catcher Mike Zunino at No. 3           .

Picks 6-10: Pirates halt Mark Appel’s free-fall                              .

Picks 16-20: Nationals roll the dice on RHP Giolito                .

Picks 21-31: Blue Jays add potential 2012 callup Stroman

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.