MLB draft round three: Dodgers take Cuban defector Garcia

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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.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.