2013 MLB Draft: Round 6-10 notes – Braves GM picks his son

8 Comments

– One big thing to remember here: the new draft rules that kicked in last year really sucked the air out of these rounds. Instead of going for upside guys, a lot of teams are drafting college seniors in rounds 5-10 and then trying to sign them well under slot, freeing up money for more talented players. So, the better prospects that slipped through the third and fourth rounds aren’t being taken here. Instead, teams will begin taking them in round 11 on Saturday, since there is more financial flexibility with picks made then.

– Dom Nunez made the switch to catcher in high school this year and was expected to be drafted there, but the Rockies called his name in the sixth round as a third baseman. The 18-year-old was previously a shortstop when he played for Team USA in 2011 and ’12. The Rockies’ first position player taken was also a third baseman, Ryan McMahon. Obviously, they’re targeting best player available, rather than trying to fill needs, but it’s still interesting to see them looking at third basemen when they have Nolan Arenado as an emerging regular and cornerstone Troy Tulowitzki potentially needing to move off shortstop three or four years from now.

– The Royals’ sixth rounder was RHP Luke Farrell, son of Red Sox manager John Farrell. The senior right-hander had a 2.13 ERA in 84 1/3 innings for Northwestern this year and tied for the Big 10 lead with 80 strikeouts.

– Right-hander Steve Janas, the Braves’ sixth-round pick, was back pitching in games for Kennesaw State this spring just 10 months after Tommy John surgery, and he ended up with a 1.14 ERA in 78 2/3 innings against a soft schedule. That his fastball only occasionally touches 90 mph held him back here.

– It probably didn’t help first baseman Jake Bauers’ stock much that his MLB.com scouting report compares him to Daric Barton. Still, he’s got it pretty good right now. He can either join San Diego Padres farm system after being drafted 208th overall or he can head to the University of Hawaii for school.

– The Tigers finally drafted their first position player in the seventh round, 216th overall. That was Connor Harrell, Vanderbilt’s center fielder the last four years. Despite waiting so long, the Tigers still beat the Angels and Blue Jays to the punch. The Angels’ first position player came at No. 277 (Florida State catcher Stephen McGee) and the Blue Jays waited until No. 295 (Air Force catcher Garrett Custons).

– Georgia Tech outfielder Kyle Wren was previously drafted by the Reds and Tigers, but he declined to sign. Now, he got picked by his father, Braves GM Frank Wren, in the eighth round today. We’ll go out on a limb and say that he’s ready to sign this time. Wren hit .360/.423/.467 with 28 steals for the Ramblin Wreck this year.

Wren’s younger brother, Jordan, is also eligible for the draft this year coming out of high school. However, he’s yet to be picked.

– Patrick Valaika, brother of Marlins infielder Chris and former minor leaguer Matt, was the Rockies’ ninth-round pick. He’s UCLA’s shortstop, but he probably won’t remain at the position as a pro.

– The Twins drafted their third catcher of the day in the ninth round, picking New Mexico’s Mitchell Garver. They also grabbed catchers in the third (Old Miss’s Stuart Turner) and sixth (high schooler Brian Navareto) rounds. Which is all kind of interesting, given that they do have some guy named Joe Mauer. The only other position player they took among their 10 picks was Indiana third baseman Dustin DeMuth in the eighth round.

– Third baseman Dylan Manwaring was selected by the Braves in the ninth round. He’s the son of Kirt Manwaring, who caught for 13 seasons in the majors before calling it a career in 1999.

– At 24, left-hander Chad Jones was one of the oldest players in the draft, and the Reds took a chance on him in the ninth round. In 2010, he was a third-round pick of the Giants. The New York Giants. Soon afterwards, he suffered a severe leg injury in a car accident, essentially ending his career as a cornerback. However, his leg is sound enough now to allow him to pitch, and he’s back throwing in the high-80s four years after he last pitched for LSU.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
Leave a comment

Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.