2013 MLB Draft: Notes from Round A and Round 2

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– The Royals kicked off the first of the two “Competitive Balance” rounds with Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea, suggesting that they did have a plan in place when they shocked everyone by reaching for shortstop Hunter Dozier with the eighth pick. Still, it all makes one wonder why they didn’t just take Manaea first; anyone could have grabbed Manaea and Dozier most likely would have been their at No. 34. Plus, that way, if they didn’t get Manaea signed, they would have been compensated with the ninth overall pick next year.

Manaea was viewed as a likely top-five overall pick before going down at the end of college season with a sore shoulder and a hip injury, which is reported to be a torn labrum. He’s thrown in the mid-90s and shown a plus slider. If Manaea feels good about his arm, his best bet might be to go back to school and work his way back to being a top-five pick next year. If, on the other hand, he feels he has reason to worry, the smart move would be to take the Royals’ offer, which figures to be well above slot using the extra cash they have left over from Dozier’s slot.

Of course, both of those scenarios should scare the Royals a bit. And it’s not as though they have the best track record when it comes to developing young arms.

– The Reds pulled off a surprise drafting 38th. That’s right around where Cal State Fullerton product Michael Lorenzen was expected to go, but while the assumption was that he’d be drafted as an outfielder, the Reds called his name as a pitcher. Lorenzen served as Fullerton’s closer and has a great fastball, but he’ll be a project on the mound. Interestingly, the Reds still plan to let him hit while developing him as a pitcher, so he  will have something to fall back on.

– Unless you want to count Lorenzen, University of Texas closer Corey Knebel was the first pure reliever off the board, going 39th to the Tigers. He makes plenty of sense for a contender with bullpen trouble; if the Tigers can get him signed quickly, it’s possible he’ll see time in the majors down the stretch. He doesn’t possess quite the same stuff as their other top relief prospect, Bruce Rondon, but he does have better control. For the long haul, the Tigers would probably prefer to see Rondon emerge as the closer and Knebel as the eighth-inning guy.

– The Red Sox made junior college co right-hander Teddy Stankiewicz the 45th overall selection a year after the Mets drafted him 75th overall out of high school and failed to sign him. It was higher than he was expected to go, as some question whether he has the offspeed pitches to make it as a starter. His future might be brighter in relief.

– Stanford outfielder Austin Wilson slipped to the Mariners at No. 49, which is a good 15 or 20 spots lower  than anticipated. After a solid sophomore year in which he hit .285/.389/.493, he missed time the start of this year with an elbow injury and didn’t show a lot of progress at the plate after returning, batting .288/.387/.475. On the plus side, he did cut back on the strikeouts somewhat. He’s a second potential big bat for the Mariners after they drafted New Mexico’s D.J. Peterson in round one.

– Speaking of D.J. Peterson, his little brother, Dustin, went 50th overall to the Padres. He’s committed to Arizona State, but he is believed to be signable.

– That both Tommy Joseph and Sebastian Valle are in the midst of such disappointing seasons may have played a role in the Phillies’ decision to draft Andrew Knapp 53rd overall. He was the first college catcher off the board.

– Pitchers with arm action like Tyler Danish’s aren’t typically second-round picks, but Danish, an 18-year-old committed to Florida, was grabbed by the White Sox at No. 55. The fact that he’s consistently in the low-90s with his fastball was enough to overcome his unconventionality. Check out the video:

– Left-hander Dillon Overton, drafted 63rd by the A’s, followed No. 3 overall pick Jonathan Gray in the Oklahoma rotation this year, giving Sooners opponents quite the different look. While Gray overpowered with his heater, Overton is more of a finesse guy with a curve and a change. He’s probably going to be a bottom-of-the-rotation guy.

– Another rarity: high school second basemen as early draft picks. The Yankees took one named Gosuke Katoh with the 66th pick. Katoh, who spent parts of his childhood in Japan and in the U.S., is a left-handed hitter with a line drive swing and very good speed.

– Besides the Royals’ pick of Dozier, the fact that Jon Denney is still unselected after 73 picks might be the biggest surprise of day one of the draft. Denney, a high school catcher, was rated by MLB.com as the draft’s No. 20 prospect.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts continues to cry poor

Tom Ricketts
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
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MLB owners and the MLB Players Association continue to hash out details, some in public, about a 2020 baseball season. The owners have been suggesting a shorter season, claiming that they lose money on every game played without fans in attendance. The union wants a longer season, since players are — as per the March agreement — being paid a prorated salary. Players thus make more money over the 114 games the MLBPA suggested than the 50 or so the owners want.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has been among the more vocal owners in recent weeks, claiming that the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing shutdown of MLB has greatly hurt MLB owners’ business. Speaking to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Ricketts claimed, “The scale of losses across the league is biblical.”

Ricketts said, “Here’s something I hope baseball fans understand. Most baseball owners don’t take money out of their team. They raise all the revenue they can from tickets and media rights, and they take out their expenses, and they give all the money left to their GM to spend.” Ricketts continued, “The league itself does not make a lot of cash. I think there is a perception that we hoard cash and we take money out and it’s all sitting in a pile we’ve collected over the years. Well, it isn’t. Because no one anticipated a pandemic. No one expects to have to draw down on the reserves from the past. Every team has to figure out a way to plug the hole.”

Pertaining to Ricketts’ claim that “the league itself does not make a lot of cash,” Forbes reported in December that, for the 17th consecutive season, MLB set a new revenue record, this time at $10.7 billion. In accounting, revenues are calculated before factoring in expenses, but unless the league has $10 billion in expenses, I cannot think of a way in which Ricketts’ statement can be true.

MLB owners notably don’t open their accounting books to the public. Because the owners were crying poor during negotiations, the MLBPA asked them to provide proof of financial distress. The owners haven’t provided those documents. Thus, unless Ricketts opens his books, his claim can be proven neither true nor false, and should be taken with the largest of salt grains. If owners really are hurting as badly as they say they are, they should be more than willing to prove it. That they don’t readily provide that proof suggests they are being misleading.

It’s worth noting that the Ricketts family has a history of not being forthcoming about their money. Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts got into hot water last year after it was found he had used inaccurate information when paying property taxes. In 2007, he bought two properties and demolished both, building a new, state-of-the-art house. For years, Ricketts used information pertaining to the older, demolished property rather than the current property, which drastically lowered his property taxes. Based on the adjustment, Ricketts’ property taxes increased from $828,000 to $1.96 million for 2019, according to The Chicago Tribune. Ricketts also had to pay back taxes for the previous three years.

At any rate, the owners want to pass off the financial risk of doing business onto their labor force. As we have noted here countless times, there is inherent risk in doing business. Owning a Major League Baseball team has, for decades, been nearly risk-free, which has benefited both the owners and, to a lesser extent, its workforce. The pandemic has thrown a wrench into everybody’s plans, but the financial losses these last three months are part of the risk. Furthermore, when teams have done much better business than expected, the owners haven’t benevolently spread that wealth out to their players, so why should the players forfeit even more of their pay than they already are when times are tough?