I have some sympathy for anyone asked to do an MLB mock draft. Football and basketball are difficult enough, but baseball adds layers of extra complexity with the high school-college mix, signability issues, metal bats and so much else fouling in the mix. In a baseball mock draft, one might have a good idea of the top two or three picks, but there’s no surety after that. So, it makes sense to look at what teams did previously and see if there are some patterns that might repeat themselves. That’s what Baseball America’s Jim Callis did in projecting the White Sox pick in his mock today.
17. WHITE SOX: Chicago used its top choice on athletic outfielders in 2009 (Jared Mitchell), 2011 (Keenyn Walker) and 2012 (Courtney Hawkins), and could go that route again with Stanford’s Austin Wilson or Fresno State’s Aaron Judge, who have massive power potential and two of the best bodies in the draft. Sox executive Ken Williams is a former Cardinal outfielder himself.
PROJECTED PICK: AUSTIN WILSON.
OK, guys, three guesses what all of these “athletic” outfielders have in common. First two don’t count.
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.
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.”