Mark Appel

2013 MLB Draft: Day one winners and losers

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It’s a tradition here at Hardball Talk to pick the winners and losers from the draft, even though we’re years away from having any idea who came out on top. And we’re not ones to mess with tradition, no matter how silly it may make us look in the end. Let’s rock.

Winners

Mark Appel: Appel turned down $6 million in a predraft deal with the Astros that would have made him the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft and then declined a $3.8 million offer from the Pirates after being picked eighth overall. This year, it seems likely that the Astros and Appel were able to find common ground prior to the draft; the Astros had too many alternatives with the first overall pick to have drafted Appel without knowing what it’d take to sign him. Count on it being at least a bit more than the $6 million Appel turned down last year. That doesn’t truly make him a winner — he might already be in the majors collecting service time right now had he done a deal with the Astros last year — but it’s certainly the best-case scenario for Appel given the choices he made.

Marlins: The Marlins are so far away from contending that it was kind of a surprise to see them take the most polished college bat in the draft with the sixth overall pick, particularly in light of their typical high school preference. In fact, when they selected North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran, he became their first college position player taken in the top 30 since Mark Kotsay in 1996. Moran isn’t going to offer the power one tends to look for from third base, but he projects as an excellent OBP guy and perhaps an ideal No. 2 hitter. The Marlins also got pretty good value with high school left-hander Matt Krook at No. 35 and college right-hander Trevor Williams at No. 44. Their final pick of the day, right-hander Colby Suggs, is a college reliever who could help next year.

Pirates: High school outfielder Austin Meadows figured to be off the board by pick seven, but he was still sitting there for the Pirates at No. 9. They’re not going to need him in center field, but he has plenty of power potential and a terrific arm for right field. That No. 9 selection was the Pirates’ compensation for failing to sign Appel last year. With their own first-rounder, they got the top prep catcher available, Reese McGuire.

Yankees: With three picks at the end of the first round, the Yankees could have gone for it and drafted Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea, a top-five talent with injury questions. However, to sign Manaea, the team may well have had to skimp on the other two picks and draft lesser talents. Instead, the Yankees played it straight up, taking three guys at Nos. 26, 32 and 33 who should all sign for around slot. Notre Dame third baseman Eric Jagielo has power and questions about his defense and Fresno State outfielder Aaron Judge has big-time strength that hasn’t quite turned into as many homers as hoped, but the best pick was probably the last: high school left-hander Ian Clarkin possesses the makings of an excellent three-pitch arsenal.

Losers

Giants: GM Brian Sabean’s Giants teams have had quite the knack for finding undervalued pitchers in the draft. The offensive track record, on the other hand, is very bleak indeed, with Buster Posey, who most everyone viewed as a stud, surrounded by a number of busts like Tony Torcato, Todd Linden and Wendell Fairley. So, there’s certainly no reason to give Sabean the benefit of the doubt when he drafted shortstop Christian Arroyo 25th and third baseman Ryder Jones 64th on Thursday. Neither high school player made MLB.com’s top 100 for the draft. Arroyo placed 97th on the list of ESPN’s Keith Law, while Jones was absent. Sabean thinks he’s sees something others don’t, but he probably felt that way about Jackson Williams, Emmanuel Burriss and Arturo McDowell, too.

Nationals: Because of the Rafael Soriano signing, the Nationals didn’t make their first pick until 68th overall. When they did finally make their first choice, they took a guy in Jake Johnasen who had a 5.40 ERA in 88 1/3 innings for Dallas Baptist University this year. For what it’s worth, Law had Johansen ranked 66th in his top 100, so he doesn’t see it as an overdraft. Still, as a big right-hander with inconsistent mechanics and a poor track record, he’s quite the project.

Nepotism picks: With the sons of Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Manny Ramirez, Andy Pettitte and Torii Hunter and Jamie Moyer all available, there was reason to suspect an MLB team might reach for a name, much as the Dodgers once did for Preston Mattingly and the Brewers did for Cutter Dykstra. Alas, the names all remain on the board as we head into round three. The only sons of major leaguers picked  so far were Orioles’ first-rounder Hunter Harvey, the son of former All-Star closer Bryan Harvey, and Riley Unroe, the Rays’ second-round selection. His father, Tim Unroe, got 95 at-bats in the majors from 1995-2000.

Jon Denney: Denney, a high school catcher committed to Arkansas, was expected to go in round one and actually showed up at the draft, waiting for his name to be called. It never was, not after 73 picks.

Kyle Serrano: Serrano might have scared teams off with his commitment to play for his father, Dave Serrano, at the University of Tennessee. The 17-year-old right-hander was thought to be a likely late first- or early second-round pick.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.

The New Zealand World Baseball Classic team performs the Haka

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It’s World Baseball Classic time again. Just the qualifying rounds. The actual tournament happens in 2017. Qualifiers will happen in Sydney, Australia, Mexicali, Mexico, Panama City, Panama and Brooklyn, N.Y., periodically, between now and September.

The Sydney round just got underway yesterday, so yes, some actual baseball is going on. As I’ve written and ranted before, the WBC is not my favorite thing that happens in baseball and certainly not the most important thing, but it’s pretty fun. Especially when there are displays of enthusiasm and pageantry and the like.

Such as the Haka, which basically every New Zealand sports team does and which never gets old:

 

Down in Sydney, the Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa teams are competing in a six-game, modified double-elimination format. In the other three qualifying rounds, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua, Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan will compete. Each qualifying round puts one representative in the WBC.

Those four qualifiers will compete in the WBC itself against countries that performed well enough in the past that they need not submit to qualifying: Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

Someone make sure Jon Morosi is well-hyrdrated. It’s gonna be a long year.

Yovani Gallardo and the Orioles are both “optimistic” about a deal

Yovani Gallardo
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Multiple reports Wednesday had the Orioles and free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo deep in negotiations on a multi-year deal. Nothing has been finalized yet, but Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com says “both sides appear to be pretty optimistic still.”

Ghiroli adds that the “ball is in the Orioles’ court,” although that may simply reveal her likely source to be Gallardo’s agent. Whatever the case, Baltimore is apparently now willing to forfeit their first-round draft pick to sign Galllardo and he may lead to a domino effect in which they also forfeit a second-round draft pick to sign outfielder Dexter Fowler.

The idea being that if you’re going to cough up the 14th overall pick to sign a mid-level free agent with spring training right around the corner you might as well cough up a lower draft pick to sign a second one. Gallardo has shown signs of decline, including a big dip in strikeout rate, but he logged 184 innings with a 3.42 ERA for the Rangers last season.

Chipper Jones says the Mets are his pick to “go all the way”

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Chipper Jones may believe some weird things but he’s pretty savvy and clear-eyed when it comes to analyzing baseball.

Remember back in 2013 how he picked the Dodgers to beat the Braves in the NLDS? And how, because of his perceived “disloyalty,” Braves players had an immature little temper tantrum and refused to catch his ceremonial first pitch? Yeah, that was a great look. If I was more inclined to the hokey and irrational, I’d say that created “The Curse of Chipper” and that it condemned the Braves to two straight years of sucking. Hey, people have built careers on curses sillier than that.

Anyway, kudos to Chipper for apparently not giving a crap about that sort of thing and, instead, saying what he thinks about baseball. Stuff like how he thinks the Mets are going to win it all, saying “They’re really setting the bar and they’re my early-season pick to probably go all the way.”

Keeping in mind that anything can happen in baseball, it’s as good a pick as any other I reckon. Even if it means he has to say that the team who was his greatest rival during his playing career — and whom he thoroughly owned during that time — is better than the one that pays his salary now. Or any other one.