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.

Sonny Gray was denied insurance coverage for the World Baseball Classic

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 22:  Pitcher Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics poses for a portrait during photo day at HoHoKam Stadium on February 22, 2017 in Mesa, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.

According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.

Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.

While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.

Report: Josh Hamilton likely to undergo another knee surgery

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 24:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers in the dugout before a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 24, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
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Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.

More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.

Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.