MLB Draft – Picks No. 9-16

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Tigers selected high school RHP Jacob Turner with the ninth pick in the draft.
Turner has a quality fastball that shows up in the mid-90s at times,
but his slider is soft and he doesn’t have much of a changeup yet. The
upside is there, but he seems like a reach in the top 10.

Nationals selected Stanford RHP Drew Storen with the 10th pick in the 2009 draft.
The Nats weren’t going to go for another big upside guy at No. 10, not
when they’re going to have to spend so much of Stephen Strasburg.
Storen is an excellent relief prospect, and the Nationals figure to
bring him along that way, though he does have the stuff to start. His
low-90s fastball and big-breaking slider could make him a closer, and
like Strasburg, he could contribute next year.

Rockies selected LHP Tyler Matzek with the 11th overall pick in the draft.
On talent alone, Matzek looked like the top high school pitcher
available. His bonus demands, however, caused some to shy away. If the
Rockies can get him signed, they’ll have made one of the best picks of
the first round. Matzek throws 91-94 mph, and both his curve and slider
are potential strikeout pitches.

Royals chose RHP Aaron Crow with the 12th pick in the 2009 draft.
Crow, a Missouri product, was drafted ninth overall last year. His
bonus demands remain quite high or else he might have went in the top
five this time around. Crow has a strong fastball-slider combination,
and reports indicate that his changeup has improved over the last year.
He could develop into a second or third starter.

Athletics selected USC shortstop Grant Green with the 13th pick in the draft.
The A’s may well have gone with Mike Leake if he was still sitting
there, but Green provides solid value as well. He could possess 15- or
20-homer power down the line. He doesn’t have terrific range at
shortstop, but he should be able to stay there, which is very important
with the A’s loaded with potential second basemen. His bat probably
wouldn’t play particularly well at third.

Rangers chose high school LHP Matthew Purke with the 14th pick.
Purke has a very good fastball for a left-hander, and both his changeup
and curveball project as major league pitches. If his arm holds up, he
has No. 2 starter potential. However, he looks like even more of an
injury risk than the typical high school pitcher.

Indians selected North Carolina RHP Alex White with the 15th pick.
White generates some sinking action on his 89-93 mph fastball and has a
quality slider, but with no useful third pitch and only adequate
command, he’s not as far as long as one would expect from a college
pitcher drafted in the first round. He probably won’t help next year.

Diamondbacks selected high school third baseman Bobby Borchering with the 16th pick in the draft.
The Twins were thought to want Borchering, a switch-hitter with
potential 25-homer power. If he were a legitimate third baseman, he
could have gone in the top 10. Unfortunately, he’s probably going to
need to move to first base.

Hunter Strickland says he doesn’t have an anger problem

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Giants closer Hunter Strickland struggled in the ninth inning Monday against the Marlins, surrendering three runs en route to a 5-4 loss. Strickland took issue with Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson, who tied the game with a single and celebrated as he rounded first base. When Strickland was yanked from the game, Brinson was on third base, so Strickland had some parting words on his way to the dugout. Then, in the clubhouse, Strickland punched a door in anger, breaking his pitching hand. He’ll miss six to eight weeks as a result.

Strickland posted to his Instagram on Tuesday, taking responsibility for his actions. He wrote, “To my family, my teammates, my coaches, this organization, and our fan base, I am truly sorry that one split second, stupid decision has caused so much harm and now set me back from being out there with my team to pursue our goal.”

Speaking to the media for the first time since breaking his hand, Strickland said (via Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports), “I don’t think I have an anger problem, but sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me.”

Well, if that emotion is anger, and you let it get the best of you, then you have an anger problem. This isn’t an isolated incident.

In the 2014 NLDS against the Nationals, Bryce Harper had Strickland’s number. In Game 1, Harper hit a solo home run ioff of Strickland, putting the Nationals on the board trailing 3-1. Strickland gave up another home run to Harper in Game 4 which tied the game at 2-2. Though the distance made it a no-doubt home run, the ball went down the right field line, so Harper was watching the ball in the air and didn’t immediately run the bases, which irked Strickland. The Giants still went on to win the game and advance to the NLCS, but Strickland carried the grudge with him into the 2017 season. The 2017 season! It just so happened that Strickland never faced Harper at all in the 2015-16 seasons, which makes sense because the two clubs only meet for two series per season and Strickland only pitches one inning per game if he gets into one.

The Nationals and Giants met in San Francisco at the end of May last year. In the first game of the series, Strickland entered with the Giants trailing 2-0 in the eighth inning. He got two quick outs, bringing up Harper for their first meeting since Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS. With his first pitch, Strickland nailed harper on the hip with a 98 MPH fastball. Harper didn’t like it, so he charged the mound and the two threw punches at each other as the benches and bullpens spilled onto the field.

In the 2014 World Series, Strickland had a beef with Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Strickland gave up a double to Perez, then a two-run home run to Omar Infante. As Perez crossed home plate, Strickland started yelling at Perez. He appeared to yell, “Get in the dugout, boy.” The term “boy” carries a racist connotation when used by white people towards men of color. It’s unclear why Strickland was upset with Perez, but Perez said Strickland started jawing at him when he was on second base after hitting his double.

So here’s what we know about Strickland:

  • He gets angry when players look at their home run balls in the air, even if that player is unsure if it will stay fair
  • He gets angry if you get a double off of him in an important game
  • He gets angry when players pump their fists and yell in celebration after getting a big hit in the regular season
  • He gets angry a lot
  • He sometimes gets violent when he’s angry

Short of hitters not showing any emotion at all and not getting hits off of him, it’s not clear what kind of behavior satisfies Strickland and won’t make him angry. So, essentially, anything a batter does could potentially set Strickland off. I’d call that an anger problem. If this weren’t in the context of sports, Strickland’s behavior would be problematic.

Strickland’s behavior doesn’t come off as particularly unique because he’s far from the only player to injure himself punching something in anger. He’s far from the only player to get ticked off when batters get a hit off him and celebrate. This anger is part of baseball culture, part of sports culture at large, and embedded in masculinity — what it means to be a man. We teach men, particularly athletes, to repress a wide range of emotions. As a result, many men resort first to anger — one of the few emotions we allow men to express openly — when dealing with any type of adversity.

If Strickland were a well-adjusted person with high emotional intelligence, he would realize that throwing a baseball close to 100 at someone with the intent to injure them is not a good way to resolve a conflict. Strickland could have gone to the Marlins’ clubhouse after the game and had a level-headed chat with Brinson, saying, “I felt embarrassed and emasculated when you got a hit off of me and celebrated the way you did. Perhaps in the future, you could tone it down.” But we don’t teach men and allow them to discuss and express their emotions in healthy ways, so Strickland lashes out at Harper and Perez and Brinson instead.