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

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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