MLB draft picks 6-10: Pirates halt Mark Appel’s free-fall

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No. 6 – Chicago Cubs – high school OF Albert Almora

Alm0ra is considered exceptionally polished for a high school player, already possessing plenty of experience with Team USA. His tools aren’t necessarily what expects from a high first-round pick, but he does have the speed to last in center field and a line drive swing that could be good for home runs in Wrigley Field someday.

No. 7 – San Diego Padres – high school LHP Max Fried

Fried becomes the first high school pitcher off the board, largely because his Harvard-Westlake teammate Lucas Gioloto, who was looked at a potential No. 1 overall pick, has been injured all year. Fried throws in the low-90s consistently, and both his curve and changeup could be plus pitches by the time he’s ready for the majors.

No. 8 – Pittsburgh Pirates – Stanford RHP Mark Appel

The expected first overall pick, Appel instead goes behind two other college pitchers and lands with the Pirates. The 20-year-old Appel had a breakthrough junior season, going 10-1 with a 2.27 ERA and a 127/26 K/BB ratio in 119 innings for Stanford. The negative is that he wasn’t nearly as good in previous seasons. He didn’t make the rotation as a freshman and finished with a 5.92 ERA in 38 innings. Last year, he was solid but far from dominant in going 6-7 with a 3.02 ERA and an 86/29 K/BB ratio in 110 1/3 innings.

Appel throws in the mid-90s and has a very good slider. He possesses decent feel for his changeup, but the pitch still has room for improvement. If he progresses as hoped, he could well become a top-of-the-rotation guy.

No. 9 – Miami Marlins – Oklahoma State LHP Andrew Heaney

Heaney had some of the best numbers of any college pitcher this year, going 8-2 with a 1.60 ERA and a 140/22 K/BB ratio in 118 1/3 innings for Oklahoma State. He throws 90-92 mph and shows advanced feel for both his curve and changeup. He should be able to move quickly, even if he doesn’t quite possesses the same upside as the right-handers taken ahead of him here.

No. 10 – Colorado Rockies – high school OF David Dahl

The Rockies have made a habit of going with pitching in the first round, but they take the third high school outfielder of the board here. Dahl’s a left-handed hitter with a line drive swing that could play very well at Coors Field. He won’t be a candidate to play center field in the majors, but he should prove pretty good in a corner with time and experience.

 

Pick 1: Astros select shortstop Carlos Correa                          .

Picks 2-5: Mariners take catcher Mike Zunino at No. 3           .

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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