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.

What happens with all the players the Braves lost yesterday?

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Yesterday’s unprecedented sanctions leveled on the Atlanta Braves hit them pretty hard, but it also turned a dozen players into free agents. What happens to them now? Who can sign them? When? And for how much?

First off, they get to keep their signing bonuses the Braves gave them. It wasn’t their fault the Braves messed up so it would make no sense for them to have to pay the money back. As for their next team: anyone can, theoretically, sign them. As far as team choice, they are free agents in the most narrow sense of the term.

There are limits, however, because as young, international players, their signings are subject to those caps on each team’s international bonus money which were imposed a few years back. Each team now has a “pool” of finite dollars they can spend on such players and, once that money is spent, teams are severely limited as to what they can offer an international free agent. Each summer the bonus pools are reset and it starts anew.

Which, on the surface, would seem to create a problem for the 12 new free agents, seeing as though a lot of teams have already spent much if not all of their July 2017-18 bonus pools. The good news on that, though, is that Major League Baseball has made a couple of exceptions for these guys:

  • First, the first $200,000 of any of the 12 former Braves players will not be subject to signing pools, so that’s a bit of a break; and
  • Second, even though these players will all likely be signed during the 2017-18 bonus pool period, teams have the option of counting the bonus toward the 2018-19 period. They can’t combine the money from the two periods, but they can, essentially, put off the cost into next year for accounting purposes.

Which certainly opens things up for clubs and gives the players more options as far as places to land go. A club can decide whether or not the guys on the market now look better than the guys they’ve been scouting with an eye toward signing after July 2018 and get a jump on things. Likewise, teams don’t have to decide whether or not to take a run at, say, Shohei Ohtani, burning bonus money now, or instead going after a former Braves player. Ohtani’s money will apply now, the Braves player can be accounted for next year.

The new free agents are eligible to sign during a window that begins on December 5 and ends on Jan. 15. If a player hasn’t signed by then, he can still sign with any club but cannot get a bonus. If a player hasn’t signed anywhere by May 1, 2018, he has the option of re-signing with the Braves, though they can’t pay the guy a bonus either.

Ben Badler of Baseball America has a rundown of the top guys who are now free agents thanks to the Braves’ malfeasance. Kevin Maitan is the big name. The 17-year-old shortstop was considered the top overall international free agent last year, though his first year in the Braves minor league system was less-than-impressive. There are a lot of other promising players too. All of whom now can find new employers.