First-round winners and losers from the MLB draft

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Sure, one generally has to wait four or five years to really sit back and analyze how a draft turned out. But why let that stop us from picking some winners and losers from Monday evening’s first round.

Winners

Dodgers – Corey Seager will likely prove to be a tough sign, but the high school shortstop had the talent to go well above pick No. 18. Kyle’s younger brother has superior power and rates as one of the class’s few potential All-Stars, though it will probably be at third base. Now the Dodgers only need to ink him.

Lucas Giolito – Despite missing his entire senior season with a sprained UCL — that’s the Tommy John ligament — Giolito got taken 16th overall by a Nationals team that could well prove aggressive enough to sign him. Giolito, a right-handed pitcher out of Harvard-Westlake high school in California, was a favorite to go first overall before the injury. The Nationals may have just gotten the draft’s most talented player for the third time in four years.

Marcus Stroman – The one pure reliever drafted in round one, Stroman went to a team in the Blue Jays that isn’t afraid to be aggressive with top prospects. It could lead to him making his major league debut later this year. Stroman, a 5’9″ right-hander out of Duke, has closer potential with his mid-90s fastball and power curve. The Jays made him their second first-round pick, taking him 22nd overall.

Yankees – The Yankees have made a lot of questionable first-round picks in recent years — Ian Kennedy rates as their best since Derek Jeter in 1992 — but they appeared to get very good value with high school right-hander Ty Hensley at No. 30 overall tonight. Most expected the big right-hander to go in the middle of the round.

Losers

Mark Appel – Most every mock draft had the Astros taking the Stanford right-hander first overall, but the team made the last-minute decision, according to GM Jeff Luhnow, to go with Correa instead. Whether that was because of Appel’s bonus demands is something that could become clear in the coming days. Regardless, it seems clear Appel was none too happy to fall to the Pirates at No. 8. He declined to talk to the press afterwards, instead releasing a statement that read: “I’m currently concentrating on winning a national championship and finishing my academic endeavors at Stanford. I will address the possibility of a professional career in due time.”

Cardinals – St. Louis got to draft 19th and 23rd overall, but failed to come away with a particularly exciting prospect. RHP Michael Wacha, the 19th pick, went about where most believed he would, but outfielder James Ramsey, a college senior, was considered an overdraft. Perhaps the Cardinals were thinking ahead: they did take well regarded third baseman Stephen Piscotty in the supplemental round and could use some Ramsey savings on him.

Jesus Montero – He wants to be a catcher, but the Mariners’ selection of Mike Zunino third overall suggests that Montero is bound for the DH spot. Zunino is an above average defensive catcher with pretty good power from the right side of the plate. He doesn’t project as an All-Star, but he should be a very solid regular.

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.