2011 MLB Draft – picks 11-15: Astros grab George Springer at No. 11

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Astros picked Connecticut outfielder George Springer with the 11th selection.

Springer was expected to go right around here after hitting .350/.458/.628 with 12 homers for the Huskies this season, but it’s something of a surprise to see him land with Houston. While he’ll play center initially, he may need to move to an outfield corner in time. He has a lot of power potential, but since he does swing and miss quite a bit, he may struggle to hit for average in the majors.

Brewers selected Texas right-hander Taylor Jungmann 12th overall

Jungmann was a rock-solid pitcher for the Longhorns, going 13-1 with a 1.40 ERA this season, and one of the most polished arms in the draft. His low-90s fastball, curve and changeup all project as major league pitches. He may not be the most exciting selection, but he’s a good value here, and he might be a candidate to join the Milwaukee rotation before the end of next year.

Mets took high school outfielder Brandon Nimmo with the 13th pick.

Some really like Nimmo’s potential. He’s an especially raw talent since his high school in Wyoming didn’t have a baseball team, but his swing promises lots of power and he has plenty of athletic ability. The Mets could have played it safer, but they’ve opted to swing for the fences instead.

Marlins selected high school right-hander Jose Fernandez 14th.

This wasn’t a very tough call: the Marlins love high school pitching and Fernandez, a Cuban defector, was right in their backyard in Florida. Fernandez has hit 98 mph on the radar gun, and his slider could be a plus pitch in time. His changeup needs work, but he was pretty much a lock to go in the middle of the first round.

The Brewers picked Georgia Tech left-hander Jed Bradley 15th overall.

Picking 12th and 15th, the Brewers come away with two of the best college pitchers available. Bradley has four pitches, including a low-90s fastball. At 6’4″, 225 pounds, he also possesses the size that teams like. He was something of a disappointment for Georgia Tech this year, going 7-3 with a 3.49 ERA. Still, he’s a very good value here.

Free agent market slow, but players who have signed have exceeded expectations

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The winter meetings are near the end — many execs are leaving Vegas tonight — and once again, the free agent market has moved rather slowly. Last year’s free agent market was perhaps the slowest in recent memory. This offseason, only 11 multi-year contracts have been signed by free agents to date. Six have been for two years, three have been for three years, one for four years, and one for six years.

Despite another slowly-moving free agent market, the players are optimistic because those that have signed contracts have exceeded expectations in terms of total value, per Jared Diamond of The Wall Street Journal. Patrick Corbin got $140 million, Nathan Eovaldi got $68 million, Andrew McCutchen got $50 million. Heck, even Lance Lynn coming off of a bad year got $30 million from the Rangers.

For comparison, as the offseason began, Fancred’s insider Jon Heyman (and an unnamed “expert”) made predictions about what the various free agent markets would get. Heyman and the expert predicted $100 million and $85 million, respectively, for Corbin, who got $140 million. They predicted $45 million and $64 million, respectively, for Eovaldi, who got $68 million. And they foresaw $39 million and $60 million for McCutchen, who got $50 million. Heyman predicted Charlie Morton would take the $17.9 million qualifying offer and the expert predicted he’d sign a one-year, $17 million deal. Morton got two years and $30 million. Heyman predicted 2/$16M for Lance Lynn and the expert only went a million higher at 2/$17M. He got 3/$30M.

Heyman isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so let’s also glance at the predictions from MLB Trade Rumors. 6/$129M for Corbin, 4/$60M for Eovaldi, 3/$45M for McCutchen, 2/$32M for Morton, and 2/$16M for Lynn. MLBTR hit a lot closer to the center of the dartboard, so to speak, but generally the players still got a bit more than anticipated, which is good, and justifies the optimism. Hopefully the trend continues over the coming two or three months.

Going forward, though, we probably should adjust our expectations of the winter meetings. Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times brought up a great point, tweeting, “One problem with the Winter Meetings is they are still marketed as a news-making event at a time when executives no longer feel urgency to make news at said event.” All of the execs and journalists have access to one another via cell phones, so it’s become more of a hobnobbing event than a place to wheel and deal. These days, a deal could just as easily happen in the days leading up to or following the winter meetings. Maybe it’s just the new normal that we’ll be going into February with handfuls of free agents still looking for a new home.