Astros set to meet with projected No. 1 pick Carlos Rodon

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Carlos Rodon has been the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft for a long time now and the Astros hold the top selection for the third straight season, so Houston is sending some representatives to meet with the North Carolina State left-hander.

Here’s what scouting director Mike Elias told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com:

Every year we’re picking at the top of the draft we have made it a point to meet the candidates in some way, shape or form prior to the draft. That includes scouts responsible for scouting the players, members of the front office and me.

We try to get to know the kids personally so we have some relationship and feel for his personality and relationship history going into the process. We’re doing that with several players this winter, particularly college ones over the winter time.

Certainly a lot can change between now and June, but there’s no doubt that Rodon will enter the college season as the consensus top-ranked player in the country.

Yoenis Cespedes blames a lack of golf for his early season slump

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Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.

It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.

Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:

He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.

“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”

The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.