Nathan Minnich (courtesy Shepherd University)

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.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.

Tigers to give Omar Infante some work in center field this spring

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 11:  Omar Infante #4 of the Detroit Tigers follows through on an RBI single scoring Prince Fielder #28 during the eighth inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field  on September 11, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
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Veteran Omar Infante has spent the overwhelming majority of his career as an infielder, but the Tigers plan to give him some playing time in center field this spring. The Tigers’ center field situation is still murky and adding more versatility would increase Infante’s odds of making the roster.

Infante, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in December. He played 39 games for the Royals last season, batting .239/.279/.321 in 149 plate appearances while playing second base exclusively. Infante last played in the outfield in 2010 with the Braves, and last played center field specifically in ’09 with the Braves.

The Tigers currently have Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Collins, and JaCoby Jones at the top of their center field depth chart. It is not what one would call “optimal.”