Kent Emanuel

2013 MLB Draft: Round 3 notes – BoSox get steal in Jon Denney

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– With all night to think about it, the Astros made North Carolina left-hander Kent Emanuel the first pick off the board Friday and 74th overall selection. That splits the difference over where MLB.com (69th) and ESPN’s Keith Law (82nd) had him ranked. Emanuel is a 6-foot-4 lefty with a decent three-pitch arsenal, but command seems to be his strong suit.

It’s interesting that the Astros, who now have one of the most sabermetrically minded front offices in the game, have gone for three college pitchers in three picks. It indicates that they’re planning to stop rebuilding and start contending come 2015 or ’16. Otherwise, it would have made sense to go with bigger upside guys in the second and third rounds. It also suggests that maybe No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel won’t be signing for less than slot. If he was prepared to give the Astros some savings, the team could have grabbed signability players in the second and third. They can still do that later, but the talent will dwindle.

– Jon Denney’s free fall stopped when the Red Sox picked him No. 81. MLB.com had the high school catcher as the draft’s No. 20 prospect, while Keith Law had him at No. 22. It’s a curious landing spot for him, given that the Red Sox don’t figure to have a lot of flexibility to go over slot. Their first pick, high school left-hander Trey Ball, probably won’t settle for less than his slot. Their second pick, Teddy Stankiewicz, rejected the Mets’ offer as a second-rounder last year, and since he’s still just a freshman, he’ll have leverage in negotiations. If the Red Sox can get Denney signed anyway, it’d be quite a coup. They already have Ryan Lavarnway, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart in the minors, but a team can never have enough catching.

– At No. 84, the Mets drafted a 6-foot-7, 190-pound high school righty named Casey Meisner. They’re probably hoping he fills out a bit.

– The Phillies grabbed outfielder Cord Sandberg with the 89th pick and now face the difficult task of luring him away from a football scholarship to play quarterback at Mississippi State. Rivals.com rated him the No. 8 high school quarterback prospect this year, so it won’t be an easy task.

– The No. 91 pick was outfielder Jacob May, going to the White Sox. He can’t be a third generation major leaguer, since his father, Lee May Jr., came up a little short after being drafted in the first round by the Mets in 1986. His grandfather, Lee, played 18 seasons and hit 354 homers in a career that ended in 1982, and his great uncle, Carlos, spent much of his 11-year career with the White Sox.

– Not to be confused with A’s left-hander Tomaso “Tommy” Milone, the Rays drafted high school outfielder Thomas Milone with the 97th overall pick. He’s an outstanding athlete in center, but one who is still learning the game after also playing football in Connecticut.

– The Yankees selected Paul O’Neill’s nephew Michael with the 103rd pick. He was the University of Michigan’s best hitter this year, finishing with a .356/.396/.498 line and 23 steals in 239 at-bats. He’s probably not going to last in center as a pro and he has limited home run power, so he’s going to have quite the uphill climb to the majors.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

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Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.