2011 MLB Draft – picks 2-5: Mariners take Danny Hultzen second

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The Mariners picked Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen with the second choice in the draft.

A surprise already. The Mariners had long been thought to be the destination for the top college hitter, Anthony Rendon. However, concerns about Rendon’s shoulder may have soured the team on him. Hultzen has a low-90s fastball, a plus changeup and a slider. He’s expected to move quickly after going 11-3 with a 1.57 ERA and a 148/17 K/BB ratio in 103 1/3 innings for Virginia this season.

Diamondbacks selected UCLA right-hander Trevor Bauer with the third overall pick.

Bauer, who did his best to copy Tim Lincecum’s delivery and his college results, struck out a whopping 203 batters while going 13-2 with a 1.25 ERA for UCLA this season. He doesn;t have Gerrit Cole’s fastball, but he works at 92-95 mph and his curve is an excellent second pitch. He should move quickly and potentially contribute to the Diamondbacks’ cause next year.

The Orioles took high school right-hander Dylan Bundy fourth.

Bundy, whose older brother was an eighth-round pick of the Orioles three years ago, was viewed by most as the top high school pitcher in the draft. He may not have ideal size at 6’1″, but he’s incredibly strong and he throws in the mid-90s consistently. He also has a good curve and slider for a high school product. The Orioles will have to try to sign him away from a University of Texas scholarship.

Royals picked high school outfielder Bubba Starling with the fifth pick.

The Royals were believed to prefer a college pitcher, but with Cole, Bundy and Hultzen all gone, it was tough for them to pass on the local outfielder with the enormous ceiling. Starling figures to be a tough sign; he’s also a highly regarded running quarterback already signed to Nebraska. With tremendous speed and power potential, he could be a superstar if everything clicks.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.