2015 MLB Draft: Rounds 3-5 notes – Rangers grab Michael Matuella

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– The Rangers made Duke right-hander Michael Matuella the third pick of day two and the 78th selection overall. The 21-year-old entered the year as perhaps the favorite to go first overall in the draft, but a back condition (spondylolysis) dropped his stock even before he required Tommy John surgery in April. There was still some thought he might go in the first round anyway, but after falling this far, it’s quite possible he’ll return to Duke and try to improve his stock prior to next year’s draft. It could hinge on what kind of offer the Rangers can make him.

– Right-hander Jacob Nix was the Astros draftee ripped off last year when the team couldn’t sign No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken and then lost most of its draft pool, including the $1.5 million they had committed to their fifth-round pick. Nix ended up getting his most or all of his money anyway through a grievance, and now he should get to start his pro career with the Padres after being drafted 86th overall. It’s actually a bit lower than he was expected to go (he was considered a second-round talent last year, but he fell to the fifth because of his asking price).

– Mariners’ third-round pick Braden Bishop is probably a better fantasy prospect than an actual prospect. He stole 36 bases in 410 at-bats over the last two years for the University of Washington, so if he can hit enough to make it as an everyday center fielder, he’ll be a fantasy target in time.

– The Giants hope to have their double-play combination of Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik long into the future, but they landed one of the better prep shortstops available in Jalen Miller at pick No. 95.

– After playing it safe and picking college shortstops with their first two picks, the A’s chose high school right-hander Dakota Chalmers in the third round. It seemed worry about his rather slight build and taxing delivery took him out of the first, but he’s one of the drafts top arms. He throws in the mid-90s and already has four pitches he can use in games. If the A’s can get their top two picks signed for less than slot money, it’d help a bunch in getting Chambers to forgo his commitment to Georgia.

– The Red Sox selected outfielder Tate Matheny, son of Mike, with their fourth-round pick. He was drafted by the Cardinals out of high school three years ago, but Mike asked the team not to take him this time around. The Red Sox certainly aren’t looking at him as a nepotism pick. His tools don’t stand out, but his bat and ability to handle center might make him a fourth outfielder in time.

– Outfielder Demi Orimoloye was the second Canadian taken, following the surprise pick of Josh Naylor from the Marlins at No. 12. Orimoloye, a right fielder with big power potential, went 121st overall to the Brewers. Baseball America had him ranked 41st going into the draft, so he could be a steal if the Brewers get him signed.

– Mariano Rivera Jr. went to the Nationals in the fourth round after seeing his stock climb as a junior at Iona. He went 5-7 with a 2.65 ERA and a 113/27 K/BB ratio in 85 innings against modest competition. Like his dad, he’s probably looking at a move to the pen. What he really needs is someone who can teach him a cutter.

– Outfielder Joe McCarthy had a chance to be a first-round pick before back surgery ruined his junior season at Virginia. The Rays picked him 148th overall and will try to convince him to sign now rather than go back and try to boost his stock.

– Michigan State outfielder Cam Gibson, son of Kirk, was taken by his dad’s old team in the fifth round, going 160th overall to the Tigers. Three years ago, the Diamondbacks picked him in the 38th round while his dad was still managing the team. He declined to sign then. Gibson lacks power, but he should be able to last in center field.

Nationals complete NLCS sweep of Cardinals, punch ticket to World Series

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The Nationals will officially appear in the World Series for the first time in franchise history. The team that had a 19-31 record in late May, putting manager Dave Martinez on the hot seat, improbably fought back to snag a Wild Card slot, won the play-in game, beat the heavily-favored Dodgers in five games in the NLDS, and polished off a sweep of the Cardinals in the NLCS on Tuesday night, winning 7-4.

After Patrick Corbin tossed a scoreless top of the first inning, the Nationals’ offense wasted no time getting to work. Single, double, sacrifice fly, RBI double, intentional walk, reach on error, RBI single, two-run single, sacrifice bunt, two-run single. That’s how the Nats hung a seven-spot in the opening frame against Dakota Hudson and Adam Wainwright.

To the Cardinals’ credit, they cleaned things up from there. The Nationals would not score for the rest of the game while the Cardinals clawed back for a run in the fourth before plating three runs in the fifth. Yadier Molina went yard off of Corbin in the fourth. In the fifth, a Tommy Edman ground out and a José Martínez two-run double accounted for the Cardinals’ runs in the fifth.

Corbin ultimately gave up the four runs on four hits and three walks with, impressively, 12 strikeouts across five innings of work. Tanner Rainey worked a 1-2-3 sixth. Sean Doolittle did the same in the seventh.

Doolittle remained in the game in the eighth, getting the first two outs before relenting a single to Marcell Ozuna. Right-hander Daniel Hudson entered for the four-out save opportunity. Hudson hit Molina with a fastball, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Paul DeJong. DeJong worked a full count, then walked to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter emerged from the dugout to take his cuts against Hudson. After five tense pitches to Carpenter, Hudson got him to ground out to second base to end the inning.

The Nats went down quick in the bottom of the eighth. Hudson emerged from the dugout to send the Nationals into the World Series. He did just that, getting Kolten Wong to fly out to shallow left field for the first out. Matt Wieters popped up to the catcher in fair territory for out number two. At long last, Edman flied out to center field. Nationals win 7-4.

The only other time the franchise reached the Championship Series was in 1981 when the Expos lost three games to two to the Dodgers. The Expos/Nationals then went from 1982-2011 without a playoff appearance. The Nationals lost four Division Series appearances in a row in 2012, ’14, and ’16-17, three of which went the maximum five games. Now they’re in the World Series, improbably. They will await the winner of the ALCS, which the Astros currently lead 2-1.