Bradley Zimmer, Tim Esmay

2014 MLB Draft: Picks 21-34 – Indians, Tigers grab outfielders

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No. 21 pick: Indians select University of San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer
Zimmer is the younger brother of 2012 first-round pick Kyle, a pitcher in the Royals system. He hit .368/.461/.573 with seven homers in 220 at-bats for San Francisco this season. He’s not a big power guy yet, though he could add more as he fills out his 6’5″ frame. He’s expected to move from center to right in the pros, though it may not happen immediately.

No. 22 pick: Dodgers select high school right-hander Grant Holmes
Holmes, a native of South Carolina, is a right-hander with a top-notch fastball in the high-90s. He doesn’t have a whole lot to go with it yet, but he’ll continue to polish up his curveball and changeup in the pros.

No. 23 pick: Tigers select high school outfielder Derek Hill
Hill is a pure center fielder with Gold Glove potential, assuming he hits enough to get to the majors in the first place. He has a big leg kick right now in an effort to hit for some power, but he’d probably be better off trying to hit the ball on the ground and using his speed to reach base.

No. 24 pick: Pirates select high school shortstop Cole Tucker
Tucker is considered quite a reach here, but his stock had been on the rise of late because of the progress he’s made with his bat. He’s a legitimate shortstop with good speed, so he won’t need to be all that great offensively to make it as a regular.

No. 25 pick: Athletics select Cal State Fullerton third baseman Matt Chapman
Another real surprise here, Chapman hit .312/.412/.498 with six homers in 205 at-bats for Cal State Fullerton this season. He has a huge arm and he might have been a better prospect as a pitcher, though he didn’t pitch at all this year. Given the fact that they already have a very good third baseman under control for a few years, the A’s must really like his offensive potential. Scouts don’t seem especially optimistic, though.

No. 26 pick: Red Sox select high school shortstop Michael Chavis
Chavis was announced as a shortstop, though he might fit better at second or third for the long haul. A 5’10” right-hander with a line-drive swing and surprising pop, he looks like a really good value here, and he’s already helped himself in Red Sox fans eyes by saying that his favorite player is Dustin Pedroia.

No. 27 pick: Cardinals select Florida State right-hander Luke Weaver
Weaver has a 91-94 mph fastball with sinking action and a plus changeup, which helped him go 8-4 with a 2.62 ERA and an 85/23 K/BB ratio in 106 1/3 innings this season. He probably lacks top-of-the-rotation upside, but he’s a good bet to become a useful starter and he should move pretty quickly, not that the Cardinals really need him to do so.

No. 28 pick: Royals select high school left-hander Foster Griffin
The Royals opted for a second left-handed starter at No. 28 after grabbing Brandon Finnegan at No. 17. Griffin is further away, of course, but he’s advanced for a high school pick, possessing a low-90s fastball, a slider and a changeup. He’s a future middle-of-the-rotation guy if all goes as hoped.

No. 29 pick: Reds select Stanford shortstop Alex Blandino
Blandino is expected to end up at either second or third. The 21-year-old was Stanford’s best hitter this season, coming in at .312/.399/.540 with 12 homers in 215 at-bats. If his power holds up with wood bats, he’ll prove to be  a bargain here.

No. 30 pick: Rangers select high school right-hander Luis Ortiz
Ortiz’s stock fell this spring after he missed time with a forearm injury, but he was able to get back on the mound and entice the Rangers to draft him here. If his arm holds up, he could be an excellent starter someday. He throws in the mid-90s with a big-breaking slider and a subpar changeup.

No. 31 pick: Indians select high school left-hander Justus Sheffield
Sheffield is a classic left-hander with an 89-92 mph fastball, curve and changeup. The package doesn’t give him the kind of ceiling one wants from a high first-round pick, but he’s a nice choice this late. 

No. 32 pick: Braves select high school outfielder Braxton Davidson
Davidson likely would have been selected in a similar range as a pitcher. He’s not necessarily safer as a hitter; while he has huge power potential, he’s probably going to struggle to hit for average and get on base early in his pro career. 

No. 33 pick: Red Sox select high school right-hander Michael Kopech
Kopech has a rather unusual delivery with a big leg kick, but his stuff is legit, with a fastball that reaches the mid-90s and a sweeping slider. The idea will be to bring him along as a starter, but if that doesn’t work out, he could prove to be a heck of a reliever someday. 

No. 34 pick: Cardinals select high school right-hander Jack Flaherty
Flaherty could be a tough sign if he’d prefer to go to the University of North Carolina and play third base, where he’s also a prospect. As a pitcher, he’s all about upside, with a 6’4″, 205-pound frame and the potential to add velocity. If he gives up on hitting and focuses on pitching, he could be a great value pick here for the Cards.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.