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.
Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.
Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.
Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.
It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.
After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.
The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.
Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.
The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.
Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.
Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.
After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.
According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.
The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.