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.

Evan Gattis undergoes surgery for hernia; recovery is 4-6 weeks

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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news

One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.

Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.

Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.

Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.