Michael Lorenzen

2013 MLB Draft: Notes from Round A and Round 2

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– The Royals kicked off the first of the two “Competitive Balance” rounds with Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea, suggesting that they did have a plan in place when they shocked everyone by reaching for shortstop Hunter Dozier with the eighth pick. Still, it all makes one wonder why they didn’t just take Manaea first; anyone could have grabbed Manaea and Dozier most likely would have been their at No. 34. Plus, that way, if they didn’t get Manaea signed, they would have been compensated with the ninth overall pick next year.

Manaea was viewed as a likely top-five overall pick before going down at the end of college season with a sore shoulder and a hip injury, which is reported to be a torn labrum. He’s thrown in the mid-90s and shown a plus slider. If Manaea feels good about his arm, his best bet might be to go back to school and work his way back to being a top-five pick next year. If, on the other hand, he feels he has reason to worry, the smart move would be to take the Royals’ offer, which figures to be well above slot using the extra cash they have left over from Dozier’s slot.

Of course, both of those scenarios should scare the Royals a bit. And it’s not as though they have the best track record when it comes to developing young arms.

– The Reds pulled off a surprise drafting 38th. That’s right around where Cal State Fullerton product Michael Lorenzen was expected to go, but while the assumption was that he’d be drafted as an outfielder, the Reds called his name as a pitcher. Lorenzen served as Fullerton’s closer and has a great fastball, but he’ll be a project on the mound. Interestingly, the Reds still plan to let him hit while developing him as a pitcher, so he  will have something to fall back on.

– Unless you want to count Lorenzen, University of Texas closer Corey Knebel was the first pure reliever off the board, going 39th to the Tigers. He makes plenty of sense for a contender with bullpen trouble; if the Tigers can get him signed quickly, it’s possible he’ll see time in the majors down the stretch. He doesn’t possess quite the same stuff as their other top relief prospect, Bruce Rondon, but he does have better control. For the long haul, the Tigers would probably prefer to see Rondon emerge as the closer and Knebel as the eighth-inning guy.

– The Red Sox made junior college co right-hander Teddy Stankiewicz the 45th overall selection a year after the Mets drafted him 75th overall out of high school and failed to sign him. It was higher than he was expected to go, as some question whether he has the offspeed pitches to make it as a starter. His future might be brighter in relief.

– Stanford outfielder Austin Wilson slipped to the Mariners at No. 49, which is a good 15 or 20 spots lower  than anticipated. After a solid sophomore year in which he hit .285/.389/.493, he missed time the start of this year with an elbow injury and didn’t show a lot of progress at the plate after returning, batting .288/.387/.475. On the plus side, he did cut back on the strikeouts somewhat. He’s a second potential big bat for the Mariners after they drafted New Mexico’s D.J. Peterson in round one.

– Speaking of D.J. Peterson, his little brother, Dustin, went 50th overall to the Padres. He’s committed to Arizona State, but he is believed to be signable.

– That both Tommy Joseph and Sebastian Valle are in the midst of such disappointing seasons may have played a role in the Phillies’ decision to draft Andrew Knapp 53rd overall. He was the first college catcher off the board.

– Pitchers with arm action like Tyler Danish’s aren’t typically second-round picks, but Danish, an 18-year-old committed to Florida, was grabbed by the White Sox at No. 55. The fact that he’s consistently in the low-90s with his fastball was enough to overcome his unconventionality. Check out the video:

– Left-hander Dillon Overton, drafted 63rd by the A’s, followed No. 3 overall pick Jonathan Gray in the Oklahoma rotation this year, giving Sooners opponents quite the different look. While Gray overpowered with his heater, Overton is more of a finesse guy with a curve and a change. He’s probably going to be a bottom-of-the-rotation guy.

– Another rarity: high school second basemen as early draft picks. The Yankees took one named Gosuke Katoh with the 66th pick. Katoh, who spent parts of his childhood in Japan and in the U.S., is a left-handed hitter with a line drive swing and very good speed.

– Besides the Royals’ pick of Dozier, the fact that Jon Denney is still unselected after 73 picks might be the biggest surprise of day one of the draft. Denney, a high school catcher, was rated by MLB.com as the draft’s No. 20 prospect.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.