MLB draft round three: Dodgers take Cuban defector Garcia


Some notes from round three of the MLB draft.

– Cuban defector Onelki Garcia, a 22-year-old left-handed pitcher, went to the Dodgers at No. 113 after his odd saga that had him ruled eligible and then ineligible for the 2011 draft. He’s reportedly requested a $7 million bonus, but it will be impossible for him to get anything close to that here. Of course, he doesn’t have a whole lot of leverage, not unless he wants to go pitch in Japan. It’s doubtful he’ll be any more attractive as a draft pick a year from now.

– The Blue Jays grabbed Anthony Alford, Baseball America’s No. 36 rated player, with the 112th pick. Expectations are that he’s going to play quarterback at Southern Miss, and since he won’t be in line for a big-time bonus at No. 112, that seems a likelier scenario than ever now. If the Jays do go above slot to sign him, they’d get a center fielder with big-time tools.

– The Red Sox dipped back into the Gator well, selecting Florida’s closer, Austin Maddox, this time around. They drafted his teammate, starting pitcher Brian Johnson, with the final pick of the first round. Maddox hit 17 homers as a freshman in 2010, but he was used primarily on the mound this season and had a 2.24 ERA and a 55/10 K/BB ratio in 52 1/3 innings. He figures to be used strictly as a reliever in the pros.

– Minnesota picked Adam Walker, whose father was a running back and returner for the 49ers in the mid-90s. Walker looks like a football player himself and offers about as much power potential as anyone in the draft. Making contact is an issue. Walker hit .343/.426/.581 with 12 homers for the University of Jacksonville this season, but he also fanned 47 times in 210 at-bats while facing modest competition.

– The Tigers announced their third-round pick, Austin Schotts, as a center fielder, rather than at his high school position of shortstop. Schotts possesses blinding speed, but he lacks the arm to play shortstop in the majors. Some thought he might also fit at second base, and given the Tigers’ needs, is kind of surprising that they don’t want to try him there. Of course, being a high school product, he’s four or five years off anyway.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.