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.

Twins’ minor league pitcher Landa dies in Venezuela

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 05:  Yorman Landa #81 of the Minnesota Twins makes a throw to first base during the fourth inning of a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at Hammond Stadium on March 5, 2016 in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins say minor league pitcher Yorman Landa has died in Venezuela. He was 22.

The club said in a statement that the Twins are “deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss.” The team did not say how he died.

Landa pitched in the 2016 season with the Fort Meyers Miracle, going 2-2 with 7 saves and a 3.24 ERA in 41 2/3 innings pitched. His career minor-league ERA was 2.66.

Landa had been on the Twins’ 40-man roster, but was dropped after the season. The organization signed him to a minor-league contract last week.

Landa was signed by the Twins in 2010 as a 16-year old from Santa Teresa, Venezuela.

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.