Bradley Zimmer, Tim Esmay

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


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.

Red Sox sign outfielder Chris Young

Chris Young Getty
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Veteran outfielder Chris Young thrived in a platoon role for the Yankees this past season and now he’s headed to the rival Red Sox to fill a similar role, signing a multi-year deal with Boston according to Ken Rosenthal of

Young was once an everyday center fielder for the Diamondbacks, making the All-Star team in 2010 at age 26, but for the past 3-4 years he’s gotten 300-350 plate appearances in a part-time role facing mostly left-handed pitching. He hit .252 with 14 homers and a .773 OPS for the Yankees, but prior to that failed to top a .700 OPS in 2013 or 2014.

Given the Red Sox’s outfield depth–Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Brock Holt even with Hanley Ramirez back in the infield–Young is unlikely to work his way into everyday playing time at age 32, but he should get another 300 or so plate appearances while also providing a veteran fallback option. And it’s possible his arrival clears the way for a trade.

David Price said to care about more than just the money

David Price

Every year free agency brings with it its own set of politics and talking points and spin. Factors which are said to be more important to players than the money being offered.

And, to be fair, there is one big factor that is likely more important than money for many of them: winning. I truly believe players want to win. They say it all the time and there’s no reason to think they’re being disingenuous about that, especially the ones who have been around the game a long time.

I’ll note, however, that given how success cycles work in baseball (i.e. teams that aren’t close to being true contenders aren’t likely to be spending big in free agency anyway) that consideration often washes out of the system. Every year you hear of one or two losing teams making a big, competitive offer to a free agent, but it’s not that common.

What I’m talking about more here are the truly soft factors. Factors which often anchor hot stove rumors, but which rarely if ever truly stand out as determining factors when it comes to where a free agent ends up. Examples of these include geographic proximity to where the player grew up, his wife grew up, he went to college or what have you. Remember how CC Sabathia was going to play in California? And Mark Teixeira was going to play for Baltimore? Heck, I’m so old I remember when Brandon Webb was gonna break the bank playing for the Reds.

It’s pretty rare, though, for that to pan out. Sabathia and Teixeira went to New York. If Brandon Webb’s shoulder had cooperated it’s not likely he would’ve ended up in Cincinnati. Money talks for free agents, much louder than any of the soft considerations. Even when, like Mike Hampton and his Denver-public-school-loving self claimed that he signed with the Rockies for reasons other than the fact that they unloaded the money truck for him.

I think we’re seeing a new soft factor emerge. Today Peter Gammons reported this about David Price:

Cities are fairly strong as soft factors go, I reckon. Somewhere south of money and winning but north of “my wife’s family lives there.” Money can make up the difference between a fun city and a lame city, but if things are equal, going someplace you want to be likely is a factor.

But that second one — being able to hit — seems a bit suspect. This is not the first time I’ve heard that this offseason. Zack Greinke was said to prefer the NL because he likes to hit. I’ve heard this about other pitchers too. I question how important a factor that truly is — the actual hitting part actually affecting a free agent decision — as much as I suspect it’s a negotiating tool designed to get AL teams to pay a premium to get the guy to “give up” hitting. Or, more likely, that it’s code for “it’s WAY easier to pitch in the NL because I get to face a pitcher who can’t hit for crap 2-3 times a game.”

On some level I suppose this is all unknowable. I doubt David Price or some other free agent pitcher is ever going to hold a January press conference in which he says the following:

“Well, the money was absolutely equal between the final two suitors and, as you know, both made the playoffs last year and play in cities with copious cultural resources for my family and me. And, having plotted the two cities on Google Maps, I discovered that the two cities are each EXACTLY 347 miles from my Aunt Tilly’s house! What are the friggin’ odds?

Ultimately, though, I signed here so I could bat.”

Like I said, not likely. But wouldn’t it be something if that happened? If so, I’d probably cast a 12-inch statue of Mike Hampton and start giving out an annual award or something.

Player pool for MLB postseason shares is a record $69 million

television money

MLB just announced the postseason shares for this year and the players’ overall pool is a record total of $69.9 million. Nice.

That total gets divided among playoff participants, with Royals receiving $25,157,573.73 for winning the World Series and Mets getting $16,771,715.82 for finishing runner-up. That works out to $370,069.03 each for the Royals and $300,757.78 each for the Mets.

Jeffrey Flanagan of reports that the Royals have issued full playoff shares to a total of 58 people, plus 8.37 partial shares and 50 “cash rewards.” In other words: There was a whole bunch of money to go around if you were in any way involved in the Royals’ championship run.

According to MLB public relations the previous high for the overall player pool was $65.4 million in 2012 and the Mets’ playoff share is the highest ever for a World Series-losing team, topping the Tigers’ share of $291,667.68 in 2006. Kansas City’s playoff share is slightly less than San Francisco received last year.

Here are the individual postseason share amounts by team:

Royals – $370,069.03
Mets – $300,757.78
Blue Jays – $141,834.40
Cubs – $122,327.59
Astros – $36,783.25
Cardinals – $34,223.65
Dodgers – $34,168.74
Rangers – $34,074.40
Pirates – $15,884.20
Yankees – $13,979.99

Marc Anthony gets into the agent business, signs Aroldis Chapman

Aroldis Chapman

There is a somewhat mixed history of entertainers and musicians getting into the sports agent business. Sometimes it works out (Jay-Z has done OK). Sometimes it doesn’t (Master P says “Hi”).

Add another one to the list. A pretty big one. Ken Rosenthal reports that Marc Anthony’s Magnus Media is getting into sports. And the company, Magnus Sports, just signed a new client: Reds closer Aroldis Chapman. From Rosenthal:

The company said in a news release that it will team with a baseball agency, Praver Shapiro Sports Management — and that the group’s first major client will be Reds closer Aroldis Chapman.

Praver Shapiro represents a number of Latin players, including Marlinsshortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, Cubs right fielder Jorge Soler, Reds pitcherRaisel Iglesias and free-agent third baseman Juan Uribe.

Chapman is on the trading block right now but 2016 is his walk year, and barring injury he’ll due for perhaps the biggest payday a closer has ever seen. Whether he’ll actually get it depends on the negotiating skills of the biggest salsa artist the world has ever seen.

Gentlemen: you have a year to get some song title pun/headlines ready.