2014 MLB Draft: Picks 6-10 – Phillies think short-term with Aaron Nola


No. 6 pick: Mariners select high school outfielder Alex Jackson
It’s the first time the Mariners have selected a high school player with their first pick since Nick Franklin in 2009. Jackson was primarily a catcher in high school, but the Mariners announced him as an outfielder, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise. His bat should develop more quickly freed from the responsibility of catching, and he has big-time potential as a power hitter.

No. 7 pick: Phillies select LSU right-hander Aaron Nola
This was a predictable pick; the Phillies don’t want to rebuild, and Nola is a guy who will move quickly. He went 11-1 with a 1.47 ERA and a 134/27 K/BB ratio in 116 1/3 innings for LSU this season. Nola throws in the low-90s with a plus changeup and a slider. He could become a No. 3 starter in short order.

No. 8 pick: Rockies select Evansville left-hander Kyle Freeland
Evansville is returning home to Colorado after going to college in Indiana. After two years of very modest numbers, the left-hander was 10-2 with a 1.90 ERA and a 128/13 K/BB in 99 2/3 innings this year. He throws in the low-90s and has an excellent slider, and the Rockies will hope those two offerings are good enough to keep him out of the pen for the long haul.

No. 9 pick: Blue Jays select East Carolina right-hander Jeff Hoffman
Hoffman was in the running to become the top overall pick before requiring Tommy John surgery. He’ll miss most or all of next season, but that’s not as much as a hit to a prospect’s stock as it used to be, if only because the assumption now is that most of the alternatives are going to need surgery somewhere down the line anyway. Hoffman threw in the mid-90s with an excellent curveball before getting hurt.

No. 10 pick: Mets selected Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto
Conforto has ample power potential from the left side of the plate, though his swing produced just seven homers in 203 at-bats this season. He did hit .345/.504/.547 overall, so it’s certainly not like he had a bad year. He won’t be a plus in the outfield — he’s likely to be limited to left — so he’ll have to hit his way to the majors. He was one of the most advanced bats available, though.

Angels sign outfielder Rafael Ortega to one-year contract

Rafael Ortega
AP Photo/John Bazemore
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According to the official Twitter account of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the club has agreed to terms on a one-year major league contract with outfielder Rafael Ortega.

It’s worth the MLB minimum, which should be a little north of $507,000 in 2016.

Ortega was once considered a top prospect in the Rockies’ minor league system, but he has made only six total plate appearances at the big league level since signing out of Venezuela in 2008. The 24-year-old batted .286/.367/.378 with two home runs and 17 stolen bases in 131 games this past season for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis.

He’ll be in the running for an Opening Day roster spot next spring in Angels camp.

Report: Ben Zobrist’s price tag is currently four years, $60 million

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Ben Zobrist will turn 35 years old early next summer, but that doesn’t seem to be putting too much of a dent in his free agent value.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the “sense among interested teams” is that Zobrist’s price is currently hovering around four years, $60 million and it “may go higher.”

There was a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on Sunday stating that the Mets have made Zobrist their “No. 1” offseason target, and over a dozen other clubs have linked to him since the World Series ended. That’s the kind of attention you command when you can both hit — Zobrist posted an .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 2015 — and also cover a range of positions defensively.

He makes sense for just about any club looking to contend in the coming seasons.

Wilin Rosario elects to become free agent

Wilin Rosario
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
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Wilin Rosario was designated for assignment by the Rockies late last month. Now, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, the 26-year-old former National League Rookie of the Year vote-getter has elected to become a free agent.

Rosario is a bad defensive catcher and wasn’t much better when the Rockies tried him at first base, but he should draw some interest from American League teams looking for a bench bat and part-time DH.

Rosario slugged 28 home runs for the Rockies in 2012 and he’s averaged 26 home runs for every 162 games over the course of his five-year major league career.

He boasts a .319/.356/.604 career batting line against left-handed pitching.

Orioles acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners for Steve Clevenger

Mark Trumbo
AP Photo/Joe Nicholson

As first reported by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma Tribune and now confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mariners have traded first baseman and corner outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Orioles in exchange for catcher and first baseman Steve Clevenger. There is also a second player headed to Baltimore in the deal.

This feels like an admission from the O’s that they’re not going to be able to re-sign Chris Davis, who is said to be looking for more than $150 million in free agency.

Clevenger was out of options and the Orioles have both Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph coming back at the catcher position. Wieters was due to become a free agent but accepted a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Baltimore last month.

Trumbo has always been a low-OBP guy and he rates as a poor defender everywhere he has played, but the 29-year-old has averaged 31 homers and 96 RBI for every 162 games in his six-year major league career. Camden Yards is a much better place than Safeco Field for him to show that power.