Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon are late-night poker pals

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Here’s an amusing little tidbit from Philadelphia Daily News gossip columnist Dan Gross:

Before the Phillies left for Houston, Cliff Lee brought fellow pitcher Jonathan Papelbon to Harrah’s in Chester to play poker. Lee’s a regular at Harrah’s poker room, usually playing late at night.

That’s legal, of course, as opposed to Alex Rodriguez’s appearances at underground poker games last year, although I’m sure MLB isn’t exactly thrilled about players gambling legally either.

I’m guessing Cliff Lee is pretty good at poker. Probably has a lot of patience, probably very precise, probably knows the math and strategy well.

I’m guessing Jonathan Papelbon re-raises everything pre-flop, goes all-in constantly for like 10 times more than he needs to bet, and then flips over the table whenever he doesn’t win a big pot.

American draft prospect Carter Stewart signs in Japan

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The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.

The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.

Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.

It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.

He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.