MLB draft picks 6-10: Pirates halt Mark Appel’s free-fall

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No. 6 – Chicago Cubs – high school OF Albert Almora

Alm0ra is considered exceptionally polished for a high school player, already possessing plenty of experience with Team USA. His tools aren’t necessarily what expects from a high first-round pick, but he does have the speed to last in center field and a line drive swing that could be good for home runs in Wrigley Field someday.

No. 7 – San Diego Padres – high school LHP Max Fried

Fried becomes the first high school pitcher off the board, largely because his Harvard-Westlake teammate Lucas Gioloto, who was looked at a potential No. 1 overall pick, has been injured all year. Fried throws in the low-90s consistently, and both his curve and changeup could be plus pitches by the time he’s ready for the majors.

No. 8 – Pittsburgh Pirates – Stanford RHP Mark Appel

The expected first overall pick, Appel instead goes behind two other college pitchers and lands with the Pirates. The 20-year-old Appel had a breakthrough junior season, going 10-1 with a 2.27 ERA and a 127/26 K/BB ratio in 119 innings for Stanford. The negative is that he wasn’t nearly as good in previous seasons. He didn’t make the rotation as a freshman and finished with a 5.92 ERA in 38 innings. Last year, he was solid but far from dominant in going 6-7 with a 3.02 ERA and an 86/29 K/BB ratio in 110 1/3 innings.

Appel throws in the mid-90s and has a very good slider. He possesses decent feel for his changeup, but the pitch still has room for improvement. If he progresses as hoped, he could well become a top-of-the-rotation guy.

No. 9 – Miami Marlins – Oklahoma State LHP Andrew Heaney

Heaney had some of the best numbers of any college pitcher this year, going 8-2 with a 1.60 ERA and a 140/22 K/BB ratio in 118 1/3 innings for Oklahoma State. He throws 90-92 mph and shows advanced feel for both his curve and changeup. He should be able to move quickly, even if he doesn’t quite possesses the same upside as the right-handers taken ahead of him here.

No. 10 – Colorado Rockies – high school OF David Dahl

The Rockies have made a habit of going with pitching in the first round, but they take the third high school outfielder of the board here. Dahl’s a left-handed hitter with a line drive swing that could play very well at Coors Field. He won’t be a candidate to play center field in the majors, but he should prove pretty good in a corner with time and experience.

 

Pick 1: Astros select shortstop Carlos Correa                          .

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

Picks 11-15: A’s, Mets select high school shortstops                .

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

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

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.