MLB draft picks 2-5: Mariners take catcher Mike Zunino

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No. 2 – Minnesota Twins – high school OF Byron Buxton

The Astros pulled off a surprise pick and left Mark Appel on the board, but the Twins stuck with the guy most expected them to take. Buxton, 18, is a pure center fielder with a big-time arm — he just had an 18-strikeout game as a pitcher — but he’s a raw hitter with a long swing that needs some shortening up. Again, there’s an awful lot of upside here, and his defense could make him a major leaguer even if he doesn’t hit as much as hoped. Still, he’s not going to move quickly.

No. 3 – Seattle Mariners – Florida catcher Mike Zunino

The Mariners obviously aren’t sold on Jesus Montero as a long-term catcher. Zunino has a very good glove and will definitely stay behind the plate. His bat probably won’t be good enough t make him a star, though he was the best power hitter on the top-ranked Gators this season, batting .318/.388/.667 with 18 homers in 231 at-bats. He could contribute as soon as 2014.

No. 4 – Baltimore Orioles – LSU RHP Kevin Gausman

The Orioles apparently thought Gausman, not Appel, was the top college pitcher on the board. They wanted someone who was going to be ready quickly, and Gausman doesn’t lack for polish. The 21-year-old was 11-1 with a 2.72 ERA and a 128/27 K/BB ratio in 115 2/3 innings for LSU this season. He probably won’t start games for the Orioles this season, but if the team remains in the race, he’d be an intriguing relief option down the stretch.

No. 5 – Kansas City Royals – San Francisco RHP Kyle Zimmer

The Royals also bypassed Appel. Zimmer has the better fastball, touching 97 mph at times, and with his plus curve, he probably possesses superior upside to the Stanford right-hander. How quickly he moves will depend on the progress he makes with his changeup. He’s definitely not as far along with his third pitch as either Appel or Gausman.

Pick 1: Astros select shortstop Carlos Correa                          .

Picks 6-10: Pirates halt Mark Appel’s free-fall                              .

Picks 11-15: A’s, Mets select high school shortstops                .

Picks 16-20: Nationals roll the dice on RHP Giolito                .

Picks 21-31: Blue Jays add potential 2012 callup Stroman

Cardinals extend José Martínez through 2020

Jose Martinez
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First baseman/outfielder José Martínez agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Cardinals on Saturday, per a team announcement. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Martínez will receive $3.25 million in the deal plus incentives if he earns a more stable place within the starting lineup.

Martínez, 30, played 887 games in the minors before making his major-league debut with the Cardinals at the tail end of the 2016 season. The veteran first baseman has been nothing but productive in the three years since his debut, however, and turned in a career-best performance in 2018 after slashing .305/.364/.457 with 17 home runs, an .821 OPS, and 2.3 fWAR through 590 plate appearances. While he brings some positional flexibility to the table, he’ll be forced to compete against Dexter Fowler and Tyler O'Neill for a full-time gig in right field this year, as Paul Goldschmidt currently has a lock on first base.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the extension wasn’t solely precipitated by Martínez’s productivity in the majors, but by a competing offer from an unnamed Japanese team over the offseason. Goold adds that Martínez would have earned “significantly more than he would in the majors” had the club sold his rights. In the end, they ultimately elected to ink him to a more lucrative deal themselves. He’ll be eligible for arbitration in 2020.