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.
Video: Undercover David Ortiz drives a Lyft in Boston
David Ortiz did one of those “Undercover Lyft” spots for, well, Lyft, in which famous people disguise themselves while driving passengers around. Yes, they’re ads, but they’re still pretty funny. At least this one was.
Best parts: (1) the woman who says she has two David Ortiz shirts to which Undercover Ortiz responds, “actually, all my shirts are his shirts”; and (2) when Ortiz agrees with someone that baseball games are “so loooong.” Oh, and at one point he tells a woman who said she was going to the Red Sox game that night that he was too. After he unmasked himself, she explains his own joke to him. Which, ooohhkay.
In other news, people who take Lyfts in Boston either don’t watch much baseball, because Ortiz’s costume is NOT very concealing, or else they simply don’t look at their Lyft driver while in the car, at all.
Scouting in Venezuela: “Someone is going to get killed. It’s just a matter of time”
Ben Badler of Baseball America has a story about how major league scouts who cover Venezuela are unhappy with the rules imposed upon them by the league. Rules, they say, which unreasonably prohibit them from scouting Venezuelan players in centralized, team-controlled locations or, alternatively, flying them to team facilities in the Dominican Republic or elsewhere.
The result: international scouts are forced to travel all over Venezuela to evaluate prospect. And, given how destabilized and dangerous Venezuela has become, they believe their safety is at risk:
“MLB’s rules that limit our ability to travel a Venezuelan guy to the Dominican Republic, that limit our ability to get them in a complex at different ages, all these rules are solely contributing to the risks that all of us are taking traveling from complex to complex, facility to facility in the streets,” said one international director. “Someone is going to get killed. It’s just a matter of time, and it’s on MLB when it happens, because they’re the ones who created these rules.”
As Badler notes, Major League Baseball itself has moved its annual national showcase out of the country due to safety concerns. It will not, however, relax scouting rules — which seem arbitrary on their surface in the first place — in order to make the job of international scouts safer.
It seems that Rob Manfred and the league owe their employees better than this. Or at the very least owe them an explanation why they don’t think they do.