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.

Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during National Anthem

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Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

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This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.