Baseball America mock draft has Astros taking Stanford pitcher Mark Appel with No. 1 pick

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Jim Callis of Baseball America just published his first mock draft with about four weeks to go until the actual picks start on June 4.

The whole thing is worth reading, as Callis gives plenty of analysis along with the projected picks, but to whet your appetite he has the Astros selecting Stanford pitcher Mark Appel with the No. 1 pick and the Twins taking Georgia high school outfielder Byron Buxton with the No. 2 pick.

This year’s draft lacks a clear-cut top choice and the consensus seems to be that the overall level of high-end talent is lacking, but Appel has been the most talked-about college player since before the season started and Buxton is widely viewed as the high schooler with the most upside.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).