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.

Reds sign Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal

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The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a multi-year deal. That’s the report from C. Trent Rosecrans and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Jon Morosi of MLB.com was the first to report the Reds as frontrunners. The deal is pending a physical. UPDATE: The deal is four years. Financial terms have yet to be reported.

With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.

Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.

Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.