When the Blue Jays drafted California high school right-hander Phil Bickford with the 10th overall pick last month Baseball America noted that he “could be a tough sign away from Cal State Fullerton.”
And now with the signing deadline 24 hours away Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports after speaking to general manager Alex Anthopoulos that the team “does not expect to sign” Bickford. Toronto radio announcer Mike Wilner adds that it’s “not about money,” suggesting that Bickford simply chose college over starting his professional career.
The recommended slot bonus for the No. 10 pick is $2.9 million, so assuming the Blue Jays were offering Bickford anything close to that he’s making a very bold choice to turn it down. And the Blue Jays will get the No. 11 pick in next year’s draft as compensation if he doesn’t sign.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.