Now, admittedly August of 2012 is ridiculously early to be thinking about the June of 2013 draft, but Baseball America just released their top-50 rankings and Stanford right-hander Mark Appel holds the top spot after declining to sign with the Pirates as the No. 8 pick this year.
Pittsburgh will get the No. 9 pick next year as compensation for being unable to sign Appel, who turned down the $3.8 million maximum amount the Pirates could offer without losing a draft pick and will now return to college for his senior season.
If he ends up being the No. 1 pick next year Appel will likely make significantly more than $3.8 million, but then again the Astros figure to have the No. 1 pick in 2013 and they passed on him with the top pick this year. Appel (and agent Scott Boras) will also have much less leverage this time around, as returning to Stanford will no longer be an option, and of course he must avoid an injury.
Generally speaking Baseball America pegs the 2013 draft class as not particularly strong, much like the 2012 version, and in addition to Appel college pitchers hold the No. 2 (Arkansas right-hander Ryne Stanek) and No. 3 spots (Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea) in their rankings.
The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.
Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.
Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.
Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.