2014 MLB Draft: Picks 11-20 – Jays add catcher with second first-round pick

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No. 11 pick: Blue Jays select Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost
This was a compensation pick for not signing Phil Bickford after drafting him 10th overall last year. Pentecost is a true catcher, but also a fine athlete with good speed. The questions about his bat kept him out of the top 10 tonight, but he could be a solid regular two or three years down the line. He did hit .423/.483/.631 this season, but that was against lesser competition in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

No. 12 pick: Brewers select high school LHP Kodi Medeiros
He’s the first Hawaiian high schooler to go in the first round since 2001. The Brewers have whiffed on a bunch of first-round picks the last five years — no one they’ve picked in the first or supplemental round since 2009 has reached the majors — and here’s another high-risk selection for them. Medeiros has a great arm, with a moving low-90s fastball and a big-breaking slider, but with an odd delivery and mediocre command, he’s a long shot to reach his ceiling.

No. 13 pick: Padres select NC State shortstop Trea Turner
Turner is a speedster with the ability to last at shortstop, but he’s likely to be more of a No. 7 or 8 hitter than someone who will be an asset at the top of the lienup. At least he should work out better than the last two middle infielders the Padres drafted in the top 20: Matt Antonelli in 2006 and Cory Spangerberg in 2010. He should move quickly through the farm system.

No. 14 pick: Giants select Vanderbilt left-hander Tyler Beede
Beede was the 21st overall pick by the Blue Jays in 2011, but he opted to head to Vandy rather than sign. He goes 13th overall despite having the weakest numbers of the Commodores’ primary starters this season, finishing 8-7 with a 3.20 ERA and a 106/43 K/BB in 98 1/3 innings. Still, there’s more upside here than one might expect with a college pitcher.

No. 15 pick: Angels select Hartford left-hander Sean Newcomb
Newcomb is a big lefty with a 91-95 mph fastball, and he went 8-2 with a 1.25 ERA and a 106/38 K/BB ratio in 93 1/3 innings for Hartford this year. Considering that he had little trouble overpowering rather weak college competition, the fact that he walked so many batters is rather discouraging. The talent is there for him to turn into something special, but he’s less polished than the college pitchers taken ahead of him.

No. 16 pick: Diamondbacks select high school right-hander Touki Toussaint
If Toussaint were a little bigger, he probably would have been right there with Brady Aiken and Tyler Kolek at the very top of the draft. As it was, his slight build probably worked against him, with teams wondering how he’ll hold up. He has an electric arm; he throws in the 90-95 mph range with the possibility of more velocity as he fills out and his curveball is outstanding.

No. 17 pick: Royals select TCU left-hander Brandon Finnegan
Finnegan isn’t big at 5’11” and 185 pounds, but he can throw in the mid-90s and has a quality changeup. Because of his size and some past shoulder troubles, some think he’ll wind up in the pen, and if the Royals want, they could get him to the majors in short order as a reliever. They’ll almost certainly groom him as a starter, though.

No. 18 pick: Nationals select UNLV right-hander Erick Fedde
Fedde gets taken two days after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The Nationals, though, have never been afraid of taking risks, and Fedde was a possible top-five guy before getting hurt. He throws in the low-90s with good command, and both his slider and changeup project as major league pitches. The Nats thought that was worth having stashed away, even if Fedde doesn’t pitch in a minor league game until 2016.

No. 19 pick: Reds select Virginia right-hander Nick Howard
Howard was the Cavaliers’ closer this season, saving 19 games with a 2.15 ERA and a 50/12 K/BB ratio in 29 1/3 innings. He throws 94-98 mph as a closer, but he is a former starter and the Reds will almost certainly take a look at him back in the rotation. What will be interesting to see is whether they try him as a reliever this year first. If so, he could be a factor in the majors in the second half of the season.

No. 20 pick: Rays select Wichita State first baseman Casey Gillaspie
Gillaspie, younger brother of White Sox third baseman Conor, hit .389/.520/.682 with 15 homers in 211 at-bats for the Shockers this season. He’s a switch-hitter with the swing to hit for both average and power. He’s not going to play anywhere other than first base, but the Rays obviously believe he has the bat to carry the position. They could certainly use a hit here after missing on so many first-rounders of late.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.