MLB draft rounds 6-9: The man, the myth, the Minnich

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– Bolstered by the baddest mustache in Division II, Nathan Minnich hit .487/.645/980 with 21 homers in 152 at-bats for Shepherd University this season. Now he’s a Red Sox draftee after going 271st overall on Tuesday.

– Craig Hansen’s younger brother, Kyle, went to the White Sox with the 201st pick. Like Craig, Boston’s first-round pick seven years ago, Kyle went to St. John’s.  His 3.46 ERA as a junior wasn’t particularly impressive, but he did finish with a nice 108/26 K/BB ratio in 93 2/3 innings. Unfortunately, his fastball doesn’t measure up to his 6’8″ frame, and he’ll probably struggle to miss bats as a pro.

– Preston Tucker, taken 219th by the Astros, is the second best hitter on the No. 1 ranked Gators baseball team behind only Mike Zunino, who was taken third overall by the Mariners. A left-handed hitting corner outfielder, he batted .316/.396/.579 with 15 homers in 247 regular-season at-bats. Scouts seem skeptical that the power will translate, and he also probably won’t have much in the way of defensive value. Still, in round seven, he’s a pretty good choice.

– Beau Amaral, son of former major leaguer Rich, was taken by the Reds with the 232nd pick. He followed in his father’s footsteps by going to UCLA, and he hit .320/.398/.445 with 13 steals as a junior. Now let’s see if he can follow his father in putting together a 10-year big-league career as a part-timer.

– I don’t claim to know anything about Alfredo Escalera-Maldonado, a center fielder drafted by the Royals with the 253rd pick, but I think that long of a name is going to break Rotoworld’s database if we ever have to add him.

– Lee Mazzilli’s son, LJ, was selected by the Twins out of UConn with the 280th pick. Easily the Huskies’ best hitter, he finished at .339/.404/.548 with nine homers in 239 at-bats this season. Still, for him to last 280 picks, it suggests scouts don’t see his power translating. He’s also iffy to stick at second base.

– Left-hander Michael Roth was a player of the year winner for the national championship South Carolina team in 2011 and he was pretty good again this season, but he fell all of the way to 297th before getting snatched up by the Angels. Lack of velocity is the issue there, but his makeup is off the charts.

Nationals plan to activate Bryce Harper on Monday

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The Nationals are planning to activate Bryce Harper from the 10-day disabled list on Monday, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Janes adds that Harper has been taking his knee injury on a day-to-day basis, so if he experiences pain ahead of tomorrow’s series opener in Philadelphia, then the Nationals won’t activate him.

Harper, 24, suffered a knee injury running out a grounder last month against the Giants. The Nationals hope to get him into some game action before the end of the regular season just so he can get acclimated in time for the playoffs.

When Harper returns, he’ll look to improve on his .326/.419/.614 slash line with 29 home runs, 87 RBI, and 92 runs scored in 472 plate appearances.

Here’s what Jackie Robinson had to say about the national anthem

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For a lot of people, athletes expressing their political viewpoints by protesting the national anthem is a relatively new concept. But the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Jackie Robinson is celebrated every year across baseball on April 15, marking the day he broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Robinson was an activist well beyond that momentous occasion, highlighting issues black athletes face as editor for Our Sports magazine. He openly criticized then-GM of the Yankees George Weiss on television for the lack of diversity on his team. He helped spur restaurants and hotels to serve black people by criticizing their segregation publicly. Robinson became the first black vice president of an American corporation when he joined coffee company Chock full o’Nuts, and he became the first black baseball analyst when he joined ABC’s Major League Baseball Game of the Week. Of course, Robinson was also the first black member of baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Robinson had an issue with the national anthem as well. As Deadspin’s Lindsey Adler pointed out, Robinson wrote about the anthem in his memoir, I Never Had It Made.

There I was the black grandson of a slave, the son of a black sharecropper, part of a historic occasion, a symbolic hero to my people. The air was sparkling. The sunlight was warm. The band struck up the national anthem. The flag billowed in the wind. It should have been a glorious moment for me as the stirring words of the national anthem poured from the stands. Perhaps it was, but then again perhaps the anthem could be called the theme song for a drama called The Noble Experiment. Today as I look back on that opening game of my first world series, I must tell you that it was Mr. Rickey’s drama and that I was only a principal actor. As I write this twenty years later, I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made.

Robinson is referring to systemic power that has entrenched whiteness and ostracized blackness. Robinson may have ascended as one of the greatest players of all time and he may have broken the color barrier, but the league was still owned and run entirely by white people, which is what he meant by referring to himself as a “principal actor” in Branch Rickey’s “drama.” Rickey was the white executive who signed Robinson and supported him as the color barrier was broken. Robinson could not have done what he did without the aid of white people like Rickey who have the ability to leverage their systemic power.

Without question, Robinson would have supported the protests of Colin Kaepernick and many others who want to bring attention to the unfair ways in which black people interact with the police and the justice system. And it makes one realize that the people who purport to admire Robinson and his many accomplishments would have said the same things they say about Kapernick et. al. now to Robinson back in 1947. And to Muhammad Ali. And to John Carlos and Tommie Smith. The more things change, the more they stay the same.