2015 MLB Draft Notes: Supp. Round 1 and Round 2

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– The first son of a former major leaguer was not Daz Cameron as anticipated, but instead Ke’Bryan Hayes, son of Phillies and Yankees third baseman Charlie Hayes. He went 32nd overall to the Pirates. Like his old man, Ke’Bryan plays the hot corner. He could turn into a similar hitter as well, combining a solid average with 15-homer power.

– The Dodgers figured to be a big player for any overslot guys, and they grabbed Louisville right-hander Kyle Funkhouser after he fell to the 35th pick. Funkhouser opened the year as a top-five prospect and was still expected to go in the top 10 a month ago, but he suffered a velocity drop for a spell before bouncing back recently. It also didn’t help his case that he’s a Scott Boras guy. However, he has the potential to be one of the best starters in the class.

– Foolishly, the rest of the league let Cameron go to the Astros with the 37th pick. They’ll have the most flexibility of any team to sign him, thanks to the league-high bonus pool. Cameron, son of longtime outfielder Mike, is reportedly asking for $5 million, though he could easily take less in the end. The 18-year-old outfielder wasn’t necessarily the top talent on the board, but a lot of people had him in the top 10.

– One pick after Cameron went off the board, Phil Nevin’s son, Tyler, was selected by the Rockies. He was drafted as a third baseman, but he was more likely to wind up in the outfield or at first base even if he didn’t get picked by Nolan Arenado’s team.

– There was no consensus on Austin Riley as a pitcher or a position player headed into the draft, just the likelihood that he’d go high either way. The Braves announced him as a third baseman while picking him 41st overall. He probably would have gone earlier as a pitcher if not for some velocity issues this year.

– The Phillies might have gotten their second baseman of the future in No. 48 pick Scott Kingery. He outhit his double-play partner, No. 19 overall pick Kevin Newman, this year, finishing at .392/.423/.561 for the Arizona Wildcats.

– It was a surprise to see the A’s go back to their Moneyball roots on day one. Taking Florida shortstop Richie Martin 20th overall made some sense, but they they followed it up by selecting his counterpart at Alabama, Mikey White, 63rd overall. While Martin should stay at short, White projects better as a second baseman.

– An expected first-round pick entering the year, Kyle Cody went 73rd overall to the Twins after posting a 4.91 ERA in 66 innings for Kentucky.

Two injured MVPs is a major bummer for baseball

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Last week Christian Yelich‘s season ended with a fractured kneecap. At the time he went down he was neck-and-neck with Cody Bellinger — I think a tad behind, though people may reasonably differ — and, at least by my reckoning, a hair or three above Anthony Rendon, Ketel Marte and Pete Alonso in the race for the NL MVP Award. As I wrote last week, I think that means Bellinger is going to walk away with the hardware when the winner is announced in November. Yelich’s injury will prevent him from making a late season surge to surpass Bellinger, but I think it would’ve taken a surge for him to do it.

Over the weekend we learned that Mike Trout’s season is over as well. He’ll be having foot surgery to deal with a nerve issue causing him pain. At the time he went down he was the clear frontrunner to win his third MVP Award. Unlike Yelich, I’m pretty sure Trout will still win the trophy. Sure, Trout hasn’t played since September 7, meaning that he’ll miss more time than Yelich will, but strained articles stumping for alternative candidates notwithstanding, his lead in the MVP race was more secure.

Trout’s 2019 ends with him setting a career high in homers with 45 and slugging percentage at .645—both of which lead the American League. He likewise leads the league in on-base percentage (.438), OPS (1.083), and in both Baseball-Reference.com’s and FanGraphs’ versions of WAR at 8.3 and 8.6, respectively. With just under two weeks to go it seems likely that Jorge Soler of the Royals will pass Trout for the home run lead, but he’s not an MVP candidate himself. Alex Bregman will likely pass him in walks. Trout seems pretty certain to finish with his lead in all or most of the other categories intact. That’s an MVP resume even if he’ll only have played in 134 games. To give the award to anyone else would be an exercise in narrative over reason. Something born of a desire to reward a guy — like, say, Bregman — for playing on a winning team as opposed to his individual accomplishments. Sure, voters are allowed to do that, but they’ve mostly eschewed such tendencies in recent years. It’d be a surprise if they backslid.

Even if Yelich’s and Trout’s injuries aren’t likely to radically change the MVP race — again, I think the NL’s was Bellinger’s to lose — they’re both still lamentable separate and apart from the fact that all injuries stink. Lamentable in a way that, unfortunately, creates a downer for baseball as it gets ready for the postseason.

The Brewers won the game in which Yelich went down and have won four of five since then. In so doing they have remained close in the race for the second Wild Card and currently stand one game back. They also have an insanely favorable schedule the rest of the way, exclusively facing the weak sisters of the National League in the Padres, Pirates, Reds and Rockies. Even so, it’s no gimmie — those Reds and Rockies games are on the road, and Great American Ballpark and Coors Field makes those bad teams better — and the reward at the end of this is likely to be a one-game play-in. You want your best player in any and all situations and the Brewers don’t have theirs. And won’t, even if they make the postseason and even if they win the Wild Card game. Having one of the game’s brightest stars on crutches for the playoffs is not something anyone at the league office wants.

The Angels have no such postseason concerns and haven’t had them for most of the season. Once again they’re terrible. As they have been for almost the entirety of Trout’s career. They’ve made the postseason only once in his career — back in 2014, losing the LDS in three games — and do not appear poised to put a winner on the field any time soon. Trout is still in his prime, obviously, but like all players he’ll either slow down or break down eventually. Given the state of the club, I’m not sure I’d put a ton of money on them being good, let alone consistently good, while Trout is still the best or even one of the few best players in baseball. The upside to me seems to be an Al Kaline situation with the Tigers, in which the team finally put it together behind him only after he began to age and miss time to injuries. Having the best player in baseball outside of the playoffs looking in is not something anyone at the league office should want either.

Yet here we are.

Injuries happen. Every contender is missing at least one and in some cases several important players. But for one MVP candidate to miss the postseason this year and another one to miss the postseason every year is a major bummer for a league that has a tough go of it marketing itself even under the best of circumstances.