Michael Cederoth

2014 MLB Draft: Round 3-5 Wrap – Twins get reliever happy

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– After drafting high school shortstop Nick Gordon fifth overall, the Twins went with college relievers with each of their next four picks (perhaps it was good enough that Gordon was the son of a former major league reliever). Second rounder Nick Burdi was arguably the top true reliever in the draft and seemed like a good value at No. 46. Third rounder Michael Cederoth also rates as a nice value pick — Baseball America had the San Diego State product rated 45th overall — but it is an interesting strategy for the team. Of the four pitchers, Cederoth is the best candidate to go back into the rotation, and since he’s been surrounded by so many relievers, it seems likely that he will. The other two picks were Georgia Tech left-hander Sam Clay in the fourth round and Oregon right-hander Jake Reed in the fifth.

– Without a second-round pick as a result of the Curtis Granderson signing, the Mets had to wait 74 picks in between selections. However, they were able to get a second-round talent at No. 84 overall, grabbing high school shortstop Milton Ramos. He’s a pure glove guy with no power to speak of, but he can make contact and run. He’ll give the Mets another interesting shortstop prospect behind 2012 first-rounder Gavin Cecchini and 18-year-old Dominican Amed Rosario. Unfortunately, no one in the group figures to be ready within the next couple of years.

– The track record of pitchers coming out of Rice University is pretty brutal, but the Padres were smart to use a third-round pick on Zech Lemond, a former closer who moved into the rotation during the middle of this season and continued to show very good stuff before going down with a sore elbow. Rice has a history of overworking its hurlers, but Lemond’s workload wasn’t much of an issue before this season. He’d seem to have plenty of potential as a starter with a fastball that reaches 96 mph and a hard curveball, and if he continues to have elbow issues, well, it’s just a third-round pick.

– The Red Sox took Jarred Cosart’s brother Jake with their third-round selection. A former outfielder at Duke, he transferred to a juco and became a pitcher this year. He doesn’t have much idea what he’s doing yet, but with a fastball in the 94-97 mph range and the makings of a quality curveball, he could be an outstanding reliever someday. The Red Sox will probably give him a chance to stick as a starter first.

– University of Arkansas right-hander Chris Oliver looked like a really good value pick for the Phillies in the fourth round, going at No. 112 after Baseball America ranked him at No. 66. Turned out he fell after being arrested Tuesday on DUI charges. Not only is he underage at 20 years old, but he blew a 0.09 according to the police report, putting him above the legal limit even if he had been 21.

– The Orioles took Notre Dame two-sport star Pat Connaughton with the 121st pick. The 6-foot-5 swingman averaged 13.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game for the basketball team last season and went 3-5 with a 3.92 ERA for the baseball team this year. The 36/40 K/BB ratio in 62 innings wouldn’t seem to bode well, but he throws pretty hard and the Orioles must figure that concentrating on baseball could allow him to take a big step forward.

– Two of college baseball’s best infielders went in the fifth round, with Indiana’s Dustin DeMuth going to the Brewers at No. 146 and North Carolina’s Michael Russell getting picked by the Rays at No. 157. Power is the question for both, but DeMuth hit .377/.433/.545 and .374/.449/.531 the last two years, while Russell came in at .339/.424/.496 this season. DeMuth is strictly a third baseman, while Russell has a chance of lasting at short but probably profiles best as a utilityman.

– Shane Zeile, nephew of long-time big leaguer Todd, was drafted 160th by the Tigers. A catcher at UCLA, he hit .324/.401/.421 with two homers in 215 at-bats this season. He has the build to add some power, and he should prove solid enough defensively to perhaps emerge as a major league backup.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

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Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.