J.T. Chargois

MLB draft round two: Twins go for bullpen fixes with two picks

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Notes from round two of the MLB draft…

– The Twins spent both of their picks on likely relievers, taking Northwestern State’s Mason Melotakis at No. 63 and Rice’s J.T. Chargois at No. 72.  Melotakis has uncommon velocity for a left-hander, reaching the mid-90s, but he lacks the plus second pitch that would have made him a higher pick. Chargois also lacks polish, having served as Rice’s first baseman in addition to his closing duties. Neither pitcher figures to make the quick impact one would typically want from a reliever drafted this high.

– The Yankees also had two picks, but they mixed it up, going for very different players. No. 89 overall selection Austin Aune is a shortstop/quarterback committed to TCU. The Yankees announced him as an outfielder, suggesting they see him fitting best in center field. At No. 94, they went with Miami’s offensive-minded catcher, Peter O’Brien. O’Brien was the Rockies’ third-round pick last year as a junior, but didn’t sign. He should be an easier get this time.

– Cincinnati grabbed the player the Baseball America rated as the top left on the board headed into round two, picking prep shortstop Tanner Rahier with the 78th selection. He figures to be a difficult sign after slipping, but if the Reds can lock him up, it’d be a nice get. Rahier projects as a third baseman, but he has nice power potential.

– Brenden Kline, who went No. 65 overall to the Orioles, projects to be the first player to reach the majors from the second round. A closer at Virginia, he projects as a setup man in the bigs, but he should be able to move very quickly.

– The Cardinals took their third third baseman of the draft already, grabbing high school product Carson Kelly out of Oregon. Supplemental first-round picks Stephen Piscotty and Patrick Wisdom were also labeled third basemen upon being drafted. The Cards are going to have quite a logjam at that position in the low minors next year, and while they’re certainly focusing more on talent than need, it makes one wonder if they think David Freese’s injuries will prevent him from being their long-term solution at the hot corner.

Yordano Ventura exits game with back tightness

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Royals’ right-hander Yordano Ventura was pulled in the fifth inning of Saturday’s matinee against the Tigers with an apparent injury. After throwing four pitches to start the fifth and serving up a Justin Upton double, Ventura was visited on the mound by head trainer Nick Kenney. Per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, he’s day-to-day with back spasms and lower back tightness.

It’s just another bump in the road for the defending champions, who currently sit 6.5 games back of a postseason spot with seven left to play. Through 176 innings in 2016, Ventura posted a 4.35 ERA and 1.2 fWAR, a considerable downgrade from the 4.08 ERA and 2.7 fWAR he contributed during last season’s championship year despite a moderate bounce-back in the second half.

Prior to his early exit from Saturday’s game, Ventura went four innings for the Royals, giving up three runs on 10 hits and two walks and striking out six of 24 batters faced.

Cubs are seeking a court order against unlicensed vendors

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If you’re looking to rep the red and royal blue this October, you best get your gear inside the ballpark. According to Lauren Zumbach of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs have sought a court order that would allow them to seize unauthorized merchandise being hawked outside of Wrigley Field. That includes shirts with taglines like “Just One Before I Die” and apparel depicting a blue flag with a white “W.”

[The Cubs] received a trademark for “W” flags, but a trademark for use on apparel is pending. Deeming a letter of the alphabet worthy of a trademark might seem like a stretch, but around Wrigley, everyone knows what that particular W in that particular color combination means, [intellectual property attorney Douglas Masters] said.

While seven vendors have been named in the suit, the Cubs have a list of 30 more whom they suspect of trademark infringement, including retailers who primarily operate online.

Back in 2013, the Cubs ran into a similar issue when a fan dressed as alternative mascot Billy the Cub and made multiple appearances on game days outside the park. After six years in the role, Billy the Cub was ordered to cease and desist his ballpark activities by the team.

This time, however, Billy’s tip jar pales in comparison to the revenue unauthorized sellers stand to reap over the next two months. With the playoffs just around the corner and playoff merchandise sales in full swing, quashing the competition (both on the field and off) will be top priority in weeks to come.

The club’s full complaint can be found here.