Colin Moran

2013 MLB Draft: Picks 6-10 – The Marlins jump on Colin Moran

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Marlins selected third baseman Colin Moran from the University of North Carolina with the sixth overall pick.
One rumor last week was that the Astros might take Moran first overall in order to save some money. The Marlins should consider themselves lucky to get him here. Moran, the nephew of former No. 1 overall draft pick B.J. Surhoff, should last at third base, and he’s got a great approach that could make him a No. 2 hitter in the majors. The big issue is whether he’ll turn into more than a 10- or 15-homer guy.

Red Sox picked high school left-hander Trey Ball with the seventh pick in the draft.
The Red Sox were typically linked to outfielders Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier in this spot, and Meadows was out there for them. Instead, they went with a 6-foot-6 left-hander with big-time upside. Ball was also viewed as a first-round prospect as an outfielder, but the Red Sox drafted him for his talent on the mound. Ball throws in the low-90s now and could add velocity. He’s a high risk kind of talent, but as rarely as the Red Sox get to pick up here — they hadn’t drafted in the top 10 since selecting Trot Nixon seventh overall in 1993 — it’s hard to blame them for shooting for the moon.

Royals selected Stephen F. Austin shortstop Hunter Dozier eighth overall.
This will be the laughing stock pick of the top 10, as most saw Dozier as a second-round talent. The Royals can probably sign him at a discount, which could pay off later if some nice prospects slip, but that’d be a silly motivation when there were legitimate top-10 talents left on the board. Dozier isn’t expected to stay at shortstop, but the Royals will likely play him there initially. He has pretty good power, and he’ll need it, since he figures to end up at third.

Pirates grabbed high school outfielder Austin Meadows with the ninth pick in the draft.
Meadows was projected to go as high as fifth and most didn’t see him lasting past the Red Sox with the seventh pick. He probably won’t last in center, and that’s especially a given with Andrew McCutchen now ahead of him. But he should prove to be quite an asset defensively in right field, and he possesses big-time power potential. He’s a high risk kind of guy, but he’s also one with the ability to end up as the best player from this year’s draft.

Blue Jays picked right-hander Phil Bickford with the 10th pick.
The Blue Jays usually go high school, just as they did here. They may well have preferred Trey Ball, but the Red Sox got to him first. Bickford, who doesn’t turn 18 until next month, already touches the mid-90s with his fastball, and both his slider and changeup could turn into plus pitches later.

The Chicago Cubs: Spring training games, regular season prices

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Craig Calcaterra
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MESA, AZ — I’ve been covering spring training for eight years, and in just those eight years a lot has changed in the Cactus and Grapefruit League experiences. The parks are bigger and fancier and the vibe is far more akin to a regular season major league one than the intimate and laid back atmosphere most people think of when they picture February and March baseball.

Just imagine, however, how much has changed if you’ve been coming to Florida or Arizona for a really long time.

“When we first started coming, you could bring your own beer in,” says Don Harper, a lifelong Cubs fan from Kennewick, Washington who spends his winters in Arizona. “You couldn’t bring a cooler, but you could bring a case of beer and a bag of ice and you just set it down in between you and you just put the ice on it and keep it cold.”

I asked Don if the beer vendors complained.

“They didn’t sell beer,” he said.

That was three decades and two ballparks ago. They certainly sell beer at the Cubs’ gleaming new facility, Sloan Park. Cups of the stuff cost more than a couple of cases did back when Don first started coming to spring training.

The price of beer is not the only thing that has changed, of course. The price of tickets is not what it used to be either. Don told me that when he started coming to Cubs spring training games tickets ran about seven dollars. If that. It’s a bit pricer now. Face value for a single lawn ticket, where you’ll be sitting on a blanker on the outfield berm — can be as high as $47 depending on the day of the week and the opponent. Infield box seats run as high as $85.

The thing is, though, you’re not getting face value seats for Cubs spring training games. Half of the home games sold out within a week of tickets going on sale in January. Since then just about every other game has sold out or soon will. That will force you to get tickets on the secondary market. According to TickPick, the average — average! — Cubs spring training ticket on the secondary market is $106.30. For a single ticket. It’s easily the highest price for spring training tickets in all of baseball, and is $26 higher than secondary market tickets for the next highest team, the Red Sox:

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That may be shocking or even appalling to some, but as the automatic sellouts at Sloan Park and those high secondary market prices suggest, there are at least 15,000 people or so for each Cubs home game who don’t seem to mind. Supply meet demand meet the defending World Series champions.

I spoke with two younger Cubs fans, Corey Hayden and Eleanor Meloul, who traveled here from Salt Lake City. On Sunday they lucked out and got a couple of lawn seats for $28. On Saturday, however, they paid $100 a piece on StubHub to get some seats just beyond third base. I asked them if there is some price point that would keep them from coming.

“There isn’t one,” Hayden said. “I paid $4,500 for a World Series ticket, so . . .”

Don Harper wouldn’t do that, but he doesn’t really mind the higher prices he’s paying for his spring tickets. Of course, he’s a longtime season ticket holder so he gets access to the face value seats. I asked him whether his spring training habit would end if those prices got jacked up higher, as the market would seem to bear, or if he had to resort to the secondary market.

Don paused and sighed, suggesting it was a tough question. As he considered it, I put a hard number on it, asking him if he’d still go if he had to pay $50 per ticket. “Yeah, probably,” he said. “$75?” I asked. He paused again.

“As long as I got enough money.”

Don is a diehard who, one senses, will always find a way to make it work. Corey spent a wad of cash on that once-in-a-lifetime World Series ticket, but he and Eleanor seem content to bargain hunt for the most part and splurge strategically. If you’re a Cubs fan — and if you’re not rich — that’s what you’ll have to do. The ticket it just too hot.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.