2014 MLB Draft: Round 3-5 Wrap – Twins get reliever happy

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– After drafting high school shortstop Nick Gordon fifth overall, the Twins went with college relievers with each of their next four picks (perhaps it was good enough that Gordon was the son of a former major league reliever). Second rounder Nick Burdi was arguably the top true reliever in the draft and seemed like a good value at No. 46. Third rounder Michael Cederoth also rates as a nice value pick — Baseball America had the San Diego State product rated 45th overall — but it is an interesting strategy for the team. Of the four pitchers, Cederoth is the best candidate to go back into the rotation, and since he’s been surrounded by so many relievers, it seems likely that he will. The other two picks were Georgia Tech left-hander Sam Clay in the fourth round and Oregon right-hander Jake Reed in the fifth.

– Without a second-round pick as a result of the Curtis Granderson signing, the Mets had to wait 74 picks in between selections. However, they were able to get a second-round talent at No. 84 overall, grabbing high school shortstop Milton Ramos. He’s a pure glove guy with no power to speak of, but he can make contact and run. He’ll give the Mets another interesting shortstop prospect behind 2012 first-rounder Gavin Cecchini and 18-year-old Dominican Amed Rosario. Unfortunately, no one in the group figures to be ready within the next couple of years.

– The track record of pitchers coming out of Rice University is pretty brutal, but the Padres were smart to use a third-round pick on Zech Lemond, a former closer who moved into the rotation during the middle of this season and continued to show very good stuff before going down with a sore elbow. Rice has a history of overworking its hurlers, but Lemond’s workload wasn’t much of an issue before this season. He’d seem to have plenty of potential as a starter with a fastball that reaches 96 mph and a hard curveball, and if he continues to have elbow issues, well, it’s just a third-round pick.

– The Red Sox took Jarred Cosart’s brother Jake with their third-round selection. A former outfielder at Duke, he transferred to a juco and became a pitcher this year. He doesn’t have much idea what he’s doing yet, but with a fastball in the 94-97 mph range and the makings of a quality curveball, he could be an outstanding reliever someday. The Red Sox will probably give him a chance to stick as a starter first.

– University of Arkansas right-hander Chris Oliver looked like a really good value pick for the Phillies in the fourth round, going at No. 112 after Baseball America ranked him at No. 66. Turned out he fell after being arrested Tuesday on DUI charges. Not only is he underage at 20 years old, but he blew a 0.09 according to the police report, putting him above the legal limit even if he had been 21.

– The Orioles took Notre Dame two-sport star Pat Connaughton with the 121st pick. The 6-foot-5 swingman averaged 13.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game for the basketball team last season and went 3-5 with a 3.92 ERA for the baseball team this year. The 36/40 K/BB ratio in 62 innings wouldn’t seem to bode well, but he throws pretty hard and the Orioles must figure that concentrating on baseball could allow him to take a big step forward.

– Two of college baseball’s best infielders went in the fifth round, with Indiana’s Dustin DeMuth going to the Brewers at No. 146 and North Carolina’s Michael Russell getting picked by the Rays at No. 157. Power is the question for both, but DeMuth hit .377/.433/.545 and .374/.449/.531 the last two years, while Russell came in at .339/.424/.496 this season. DeMuth is strictly a third baseman, while Russell has a chance of lasting at short but probably profiles best as a utilityman.

– Shane Zeile, nephew of long-time big leaguer Todd, was drafted 160th by the Tigers. A catcher at UCLA, he hit .324/.401/.421 with two homers in 215 at-bats this season. He has the build to add some power, and he should prove solid enough defensively to perhaps emerge as a major league backup.

Red Sox look to punch their ticket to the World Series tonight

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Thanks to some amazing defense, some big hits and — to continue to beat this horse, a bad call by Joe West — the Red Sox have a 3-1 lead in the ALCS and look to clinch the AL Pennant tonight down in Houston.

If you believe in momentum, you’d have to say it’s on Boston’s side. If you believe that momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher, however, you’d have to say things favor Houston more than the standing of the series would suggest. All of which makes me wish Game 5 was starting right now, because it figures to be a tense and exciting affair.

ALCS Game 5

Red Sox vs. Astros
Ballpark: Minute Maid Park
Time: 8:09 PM Eastern
TV: TBS
Pitchers: David Price vs. Justin Verlander
Breakdown:

If someone told you that you had to win one baseball game against the Martians to save the human race, you could do far worse than calling on Justin Verlander to be your starting pitcher. Among the pitchers still in the postseason, he’d almost certainly be your choice right now.

Does Verlander himself appreciate the situation? This is what he said about that yesterday:

“I mean, these are all must-win games at this point. Every time you take the mound I don’t think there’s any difference whether it’s 2-2 or 3-1.”

Look, we’re asking him to beat the Martians here, not win the National Math Bee, so let’s let that go. The point is that after all of these years he’s still one of the most dominant pitchers in the game and after the exhausting, see-saw battle of Game 4, he stands the best chance of giving Houston what it needs: a quick, quiet and drama-free win.

Not that the Red Sox are likely to roll over for that. They didn’t the first time they faced Verlander in this series. They Astros won, yes, and Verlander limited them to two runs on two hits. But he also issued four walks and wasn’t his sharpest overall. Boston didn’t capitalize on his mistakes as best they could, but he’s not invincible.

For Boston it’s David Price. He allowed four runs on five hits and four walks over four and two-thirds innings in Game 2, not factoring in the decision. That’s not great, but given the talk leading up to that game being all about how Price is a postseason flop, the fact that the Sox won it in the end had to bouy him at least a little. As does the fact that, here, tonight, it’s not 100% on his shoulders. Sure, the Sox want to close this out, but with a 3-1 lead there is less pressure on Price than on his former teammate Verlander. Worth noting, though: Price is on short rest and warmed up in the bullpen last night in case he was needed to bail out Craig Kimbrel. He may not go deep into this game.