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.

Ichiro was happy to see Pete Rose get defensive about his hits record

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 14:  Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Miami Marlins warms-up during batting practice before a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on June 14, 2016 in San Diego, California.   (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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You’ll recall the little controversy last month when Ichiro Suzuki passed Pete Rose’s hit total. Specifically, when Ichiro’s Japanese and American hit total reached Rose’s American total of 4,256 and a lot of people talked about Ichiro being the new “Hit King.” You’ll also recall that Rose himself got snippy about it, wondering if people would now think of him as “the Hit Queen,” which he took to be disrespect.

There’s a profile of Ichiro over at ESPN the Magazine and reporter Marly Rivera asked Ichiro about that. Ichiro’s comments were interesting and quite insightful about how ego and public perception work in the United States:

I was actually happy to see the Hit King get defensive. I kind of felt I was accepted. I heard that about five years ago Pete Rose did an interview, and he said that he wished that I could break that record. Obviously, this time around it was a different vibe. In the 16 years that I have been here, what I’ve noticed is that in America, when people feel like a person is below them, not just in numbers but in general, they will kind of talk you up. But then when you get up to the same level or maybe even higher, they get in attack mode; they are maybe not as supportive. I kind of felt that this time.

There’s a hell of a lot of truth to that. Whatever professional environment you’re in, you’ll see this play out. If you want to know how you’re doing, look at who your enemies and critics are. If they’re senior to you or better-established in your field, you’re probably doing something right. And they’re probably pretty insecure and maybe even a little afraid of you.

The rest of the article is well worth your time. Ichiro seems like a fascinating, insightful and intelligent dude.

There will be no criminal charges arising out of Curt Schilling’s video game debacle

Curt Schilling
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In 2012 Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios, delivered the fantasy role-playing game it had spent millions of dollars and countless man hours trying to deliver. And then the company folded, leaving both its employees and Rhode Island taxpayers, who underwrote much of the company’s operations via $75 million in loans, holding the bag.

The fallout to 38 Studios’ demise was more than what you see in your average business debacle. Rhode Island accused Schilling and his company of acts tantamount to fraud, claiming that it accepted tax dollars while withholding information about the true state of the company’s finances. Former employees, meanwhile, claimed — quite credibly, according to reports of the matter — that they too were lured to Rhode Island believing that their jobs were far more secure than they were. Many found themselves in extreme states of crisis when Schilling abruptly closed the company’s doors. For his part, Schilling has assailed Rhode Island politicians for using him as a scapegoat and a political punching bag in order to distract the public from their own misdeeds. There seems to be truth to everyone’s claims to some degree.

As a result of all of this, there have been several investigations and lawsuits into 38 Studios’ collapse. In 2012 the feds investigated the company and declined to bring charges. There is currently a civil lawsuit afoot and, alongside it, the State of Rhode Island has investigated for four years to see if anyone could be charged with a crime. Today there was an unexpected press conference in which it was revealed that, no, no one associated with 38 Studios will be charged with anything:

An eight-page explanation of the decision concluded by saying that “the quantity and qualify of the evidence of any criminal activity fell short of what would be necessary to prove any allegation beyond a reasonable doubt and as such the Rules of Professional Conduct precluded even offering a criminal charge for grand jury consideration.”

Schilling will likely crow about this on his various social media platforms, claiming it totally vindicates him. But, as he is a close watcher of any and all events related to Hillary Clinton, he no doubt knows that a long investigation resulting in a declination to file charges due to lack of evidence is not the same thing as a vindication. Bad judgment and poor management are still bad things, even if they’re not criminal matters.

Someone let me know if Schilling’s head explodes if and when someone points that out to him.