Cubs picked University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant with the second overall pick.
Bryant, a 6-foot-5 right-handed bat, was considered the best power hitter from the college ranks, smashing 31 homers to go along with a .329/.493/.820 line for San Diego this year. The question with him is defense, as some wonder if he’ll be able to stay at third base. With little organization depth at the position, the Cubs will have good reason to leave him at the hot corner for now.
Rockies picked University of Oklahoma RHP Jonathan Gray with the third pick.
There was some speculation that Gray would fall after testing positive for Adderall, but the Rockies couldn’t pass on a big-time arm capable of moving quickly. Gray throws a bit harder than Mark Appel, reaching the upper 90s, but his changeup is a mediocre third pitch that needs some work. He’s not quite as polished as Appel, but he could still reach the majors in 2014. Hopefully, he’ll work out better than the last two college right-handers the Rockies picked in the top 10: Casey Weathers (8th overall, 2007) and Greg Reynolds (2nd overall, 2006).
Twins selected high school RHP Kohl Stewart fourth overall in the draft.
Stewart, widely regarded as the top high school pitcher in the class, is also a find quarterback prospect, having committed to Texas A&M. Still, everyone seems to expect that he’ll sign. Stewart is a fastball-slider pitcher capable of throwing in the mid-90s. He joins an impressive stable of young Twins arms that includes offseason acquisitions Alex Meyer and Trevor May, along with former draft picks Kyle Gibson and Jose Berrios.
Indians picked high school outfielder Clint Frazier fifth overall.
A bit of a surprise here, but the Indians were probably hoping one of the top three would slip. Frazier isn’t a big guy, standing 6-foot-1 and weighing 190, but teams still think he’ll hit for power with wood bats. He also gets rave reviews for makeup. As a high school bat, he doesn’t figure to move quickly.
Kolten Wong is no longer the only second baseman being considered for a starting role on the Cardinals’ roster, and he’s not happy about it. On Saturday, GM John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny hinted that Wong could lose playing time to Jedd Gyorko or Greg Garcia in 2017 — in other words, an infielder who brings a little more pop at the plate. Prior to the Cardinals’ game against the Marlins on Sunday, Wong gave his heated response to the media. Via Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
I don’t think you give somebody a contract for no reason,” Wong said. “When you are given a contract, you are expected to get a chance to work through some things and figure yourself out. Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, all these guys never figured their stuff out until later on down the road. It’s the big leagues. It’s tough, man. For me, the biggest thing is I just need people to have my back. When that comes, it will be good. But, I think right now, it’s just staying with my play, understanding I’m working toward getting myself more consistent, understanding what kind of player I can be. If that’s going to be with another team, so be it.
When pressed, Wong said that he would rather be traded away from St. Louis than step into a limited role with the team. “I don’t want to be here wasting my time,” he told the press. “I know what kind of player I am. If I don’t have the belief here, then I’ll go somewhere else.” The 26-year-old was inked to a five-year, $25.5 million extension prior to the 2016 season, complete with a $12.5 million option and $1 million buyout.
Part of Wong’s frustration stems from the Cardinals’ backtracking on their stated commitment to him as their starting second baseman last winter. Mozeliak admitted that while Wong had the defensive tools necessary to hold down the position, he failed to impress at the plate. It’s an argument that Wong hasn’t been able to rebut this spring, going 8-for-44 with two extra bases and 10 strikeouts in camp. He hasn’t looked much better in the regular season, sustaining a career .248/.309/.370 batting line with a .678 OPS and 5.1 fWAR over four years with the organization.
Still, the second baseman feels that he should have been given some heads up that he was playing to keep his starting role this spring, admitting that he entered camp with the mentality of someone who had a guaranteed spot on the Cardinals’ roster and not someone whose job security was dependent on his day-to-day results. “I need the time to consistently figure out how to be me and succeed at this level,” said Wong. “Everybody goes through it. Not everybody is Mike Trout.”
Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.
While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.
Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:
Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.