When asked yesterday Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos told reporters that he didn’t expect to sign first-round pick Phil Bickford and sure enough the signing deadline just passed without the deal.
Bickford, a high school pitcher from California who went No. 10 overall, will instead head to college at Cal-State Fullerton. The slot recommended bonus for the 10th pick is $2.9 million, although it’s not clear what the Blue Jays actually offered Bickford. He was considered a “tough sign” going into the draft, so the Blue Jays knew what they were getting into.
They’ll also receive the No. 11 pick in next year’s draft as compensation for failing to sign him, so it’s hardly a disastrous scenario. It could be for Bickford, though, depending on how he pitches in college and whether he can stay healthy for the next few years. Recent history has not been very kind to pitchers who passed up big signing bonuses coming out of high school.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.