Draft blog: Picks 16-50 – Cubs, Yankees pull off surprises

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Cubs selected RHP Hayden Simpson with the 16th pick in the draft.
A big surprise. Simpson, a product of Southern Arkansas, wasn’t viewed as a first-round arm. Most didn’t see him going in the first three rounds. The Cubs must see something special about him, but as far as we know, he’s a low-90s guy with no standout offspeed pitch.
Rays took outfielder Josh Sale with the 17th pick.
Sale offers plenty of power, but it will be up to his new team to turn him into a hitter, as he has a couple of holes in his swing right now. The question on defense is whether he’ll last in right field or if his lack of speed will put him at first base.
The Angels selected 3B/RHP Kaleb Cowart (18th), RHP Cam Bedrosian (29th) and OF Chevy Clarke (30th) with their three first-round picks Monday.
Three Georgia high school products. Cowart was announced as a third baseman, which is what he prefers. Many teams, though, were higher on him as a pitcher. Bedrosian has the big fastball-slider combo to follow in the footsteps of his father Steve, who saved 184 games as a major leaguer. Clarke is a speedy center fielder with some power potential. None of these guys will help the Angels for a few years, but there wasn’t a reach in the bunch.
The Red Sox selected 2B Kolbrin Vitek (20th), OF Bryce Brentz (36th) and RHP Anthony Ranuado (39th) with their three picks Monday.
Vitek, rumored to the Padres at No. 9, has already agreed to terms and is expected to move to third base immediately. The hope is that he’ll stay there, though it’s possible he’ll end up in the outfield. The Ball State product has a polished bat that should allow him to move through the minors quickly. He’s a future 20-homer guy. Brentz was another one of the best hitters in college this year. He has on-base skills to go along with possible 20-homer power, and he should be a pretty good defender in right field. Ranuado, an LSU product, was one of the players the Red Sox were often connected with at No. 20. His stock took a hit due to an elbow injury that took a toll on his velocity this year, but he has a great fastball-curveball combo when he’s on.
Twins took RHP Alex Wimmers with the 21st pick in the draft.
Wimmers to Minnesota was considered the surest thing of the second half of round one. A lack of velocity kept him from going in the top 10, but he has a plus curve and changeup to go along with his 88-92 mph fastball and the command is there for him to move quickly. The Twins aren’t usually aggressive with their prospects, but if they have need of him, Wimmers might be ready to help by mid-2011.
Cardinals selected third baseman Zack Cox with the 25th pick in the MLB draft.
A draft-eligible sophomore, Cox could be a tough sign, since he’d lose little leverage by returning to Arkansas for another year. That he didn’t go in the top 10 as expected would seem to increase the chances that he’ll head back to school. Cox has a promising left-handed bat that should allow him to hit for average and power. However, his defense at third base is rather rough and he might end up in the outfield.
The Yankees took high school shortstop Cito Culver with the final pick in the first round Monday.
The last time the Yankees took a high school shortstop in the first round was 2005, and C.J. Henry proved to be a complete bust. Of course, the one before that worked out better. Culver wasn’t a first-round pick in the eyes of most, but he has the range to stay at shortstop and he’s a switch-hitter. He’ll be quite a project.
The Tigers chose third baseman Nick Castellanos (44th) and RHP Chance Ruffin (48th) with their two supplemental first-round picks Monday.
Detroit lost its first-round pick for signing Jose Valverde, but that didn’t slow the team down. Castellanos may have gone in the top 15 if not for his University of Miami (Fla.) commitment. He could displayed 25- to 30-homer power in time. Ruffin, the son of former major leaguer Burce Ruffin, was viewed as one of the draft’s top relief prospects. His fastball-slider combination could get him to the majors in a hurry.

Ken Giles: ‘I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston’

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Blue Jays closer Ken Giles hasn’t exactly turned things around since joining the Blue Jays on July 31, when the club sent embattled closer Roberto Osuna to the Astros. Giles posted a 4.99 ERA in 30 2/3 innings with the Astros, then put up a slightly less miserable 4.58 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Jays. Still, he’s much happier with the Jays than he was with the Astros, even after winning the World Series with them last year. He said to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston. It’s kind of weird to say that because I won a World Series with that team. But it’s like, I just felt trapped there. I didn’t feel like myself there. Overall, I felt out of place.”

Giles also said “the communication was lost” with the Astros and it was something that came easy with the Jays. He said, “When I came here, they stayed patient with me. I said hey, I want to work on this thing till I’m comfortable. All right. OK, I’m comfortable, let’s move on to this next thing. Pitching, you can’t just try to fix everything at once. For me, I had to take baby steps to get my groove back. The Jays allowed me to do that. Yeah, the team was out of contention, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still my career. I still have to prove myself. Them being so patient with me, understanding what I want to do, was very, very big.”

Giles, 28, has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining. He has shown promise despite his overall mediocre numbers. In non-save situations this season (with both the Astros and Jays), he has a 9.12 ERA. But in save situations, his ERA is a pristine 0.38. Giles could be a closer the Jays find themselves leaning on as they attempt to get back into competitive shape. Since it sounds like Giles is quite enamored with Toronto and with the Blue Jays, a discussion about a contract extension certainly could be had.