MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo was asked on Twitter where high school outfielder Clint Frazier, whom many expect to go in the Top 10 of the MLB Draft, ranks in comparison to high school talents from previous drafts. Mayo notes that it's hard to ignore hindsight and view players in the same light as he did when they were amateurs, but he ranked Frazier as the eighth-best talent among 36 high school hitters selected in the first round dating back to 2009. Here's more on the draft...
- The Astros have six players on their draft board but Frazier looks to be edging out Austin Meadows, leaving them with Frazier, Mark Appel, Jonathan Gray, Kris Bryant and Colin Moran, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. Bryant and Frazier are seen as dark horses if the team decides Appel and Gray aren't worth the money they're asking. Should Scott Boras and Appel highball the Astros, money will become an issue. Smith notes that it's very close between Appel and Gray, adding that Gray has ties to the Astros and is open to negotiating (All links to Smith's Twitter account).
- Cubs president Theo Epstein, GM Jed Hoyer, top scouting/player development executive Jason McLeod and amateur scouting director Jaron Madison are currently in Oklahoma City to meet with Gray, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. The Cubs are still expected to take either Gray or Appel at No. 2 overall.
- Bill Kiser of MLB.com profiles prep right-hander Hunter Harvey, whose stock has risen enough that he's considered a likely first-rounder. Harvey is the son of former MLB closer Bryan Harvey, who saved an AL-best 46 saves in 1991 and made two All-Star teams. The younger Harvey has a 0.38 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 54 2/3 high school innings this season. Harvey, whose fastball sits in the mid-90s and has touched 97, also features a solid curveball. Mayo had him going 25th to the Giants in his mock draft, while John Sickels of Minorleagueball.com has him going 30th to the Rangers and ESPN's Keith Law (Insider req'd) has him at No. 24 to the Athletics.
Here's your rundown of today's minor moves...
- Sugar Land Skeeters outfielder Dustin Martin has signed a minor league contract with the Diamondbacks according to a press release from the Skeeters (via MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez on Twitter). Martin, 29, has spent time in the Mets and Twins organizations. He was part of the return the Twins received when they traded Luis Castillo to the Mets in 2007. The lefty swinger is a career .259/.328/.397 hitter in 420 games at the Triple-A level.
- The Orioles have acquired minor league infielder Josh Horton from the Athletics in exchange for cash or a player to be named later, assistant GM David Forst told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). The 27-year-old Horton is hitting .224/.246/.373 this season at Triple-A. He has experience at second base, shortstop and third base. Horton was a second-round pick by the A's in 2007 and ranked as their No. 26 prospect prior to the 2008 season, according to Baseball America. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports tweets that Horton will be assigned to Double-A Bowie.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly offered up some brutally honest and scathing remarks for his players and the team's upper management prior to Wednesday's game, and Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times has a recap. Mattingly benched $85MM right fielder Andre Ethier in favor of rookie Scott Van Slyke, commenting that to use his “most competitive lineup” and one that would “fight the hardest.” Mattingly wouldn't confirm whether or not he still viewed Ethier as an everyday player. He also noted that the front office tried to buy an All-Star team, stating: “All grit and no talent isn’t going to make you successful. But all talent and no grit is not going to get you there, either.” Here's more out of baseball's Western divisions...
- One rival general manager told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that it seems like Mattingly is trying to get himself fired.
- Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes that Ethier is now "eminently available" and suggests some speculative trades. Cameron proposes a swap of Ethier and Jeff Francoeur, with the Dodgers picking up the tab (Twitter link) on Ethier's final two seasons. Doing so would save the Dodgers up to $40MM, allow them to call up Yasiel Puig and give Kansas City an upgrade over Francoeur. He also suggests a swap with Franklin Gutierrez of the Mariners or dumping Ethier on the Rangers.
- Jordan Norberto's preference is still to re-sign with the Athletics after being released earlier in the month, according to John Shea and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Norberto was cut loose due to an elbow strain, and he's throwing again as he rehabs from the injury. The Cubs, Royals and Rays are all interested in Norberto, but he told Shea and Slusser: "I've never felt anything for a team before like I do about the A's - the teammates, the pitching coach, the manager, the fans."
- The Mariners need better than what Aaron Harang is giving them every five days, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, who suggests that it's time to designate Harang for assignment and give Jeremy Bonderman a try. Bonderman has a 3.79 ERA in nine Triple-A starts.
- The Mariners are better than their record indicates, writes Rosenthal, but a number of their key offensive pieces are free agents. Rosenthal feels that the Mariners and GM Jack Zduriencik are at a crossroads, but an improved record could make Seattle a desirable destination for Northwest natives Jacoby Ellsbury and Tim Lincecum.
WEDNESDAY: Lowe has cleared waivers and now must decide whether to accept an assignment to Triple-A or become a free agent, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).
MONDAY: The Rangers designated righty Derek Lowe to open a spot on the active roster for Josh Lindblom, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The Rangers now have 38 players on their 40-man roster.
Lowe, 39, posted a 9.00 ERA, 5.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 2.08 HR/9, and 55.8% groundball rate in 13 relief innings this year. He had signed a minor league deal in March and made the team out of Spring Training, receiving a $1.25MM salary. That salary should prevent a waiver claim, and result in Lowe becoming a free agent via release. At that point, a team could sign him for the league minimum $490K with the Rangers picking up the rest of the tab.
Lowe has pitched over 2,600 innings in his big league career with the Mariners, Red Sox, Dodgers, Braves, Indians, Yankees, and Rangers, and has had success as both a reliever and a starter. His 176 wins rank him 11th all-time among those born in Michigan, and his 86 saves rank tenth.
Jaime Garcia will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery on Friday, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman goes on to write that Dr. James Andrews was amazed that Garcia was able to pitch anywhere near as well as he did, as the left-hander has a "30-40 percent tear" of the labrum in his left shoulder. Garcia is in the second year of a four-year, $27.5MM contract that he signed in June 2011. His deal contains a pair of club options as well. Here's more on the Cardinals and the NL Central...
- While Garcia is done for the year, the Cardinals are hopeful that Chris Carpenter can return in July, according to Scott Miller of CBS Sports. Carpenter, who looked all but certain to retire just two months ago, is up to 80 pitches in his intense bullpen sessions. He's yet to face hitters, writes Miller, but there's an outside chance that he could be in the rotation prior to the All-Star break.
- "Let the debate begin," writes ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers, referring to the split opinion among fans on whether or not the Cubs should sign or trade Matt Garza. It's not immediately clear whether or not the Cubs will try to retain Garza, Rogers adds.
- One NL scout who was watching Garza's start against the Pirates last night texted Danny Knobler of CBS Sports and said, "I'd take him NOW." Knobler notes that the scout was half-kidding, as Garza hasn't proven his durability yet, but the right-hander carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning against the Buccos last night.
The Red Sox and Scott Boras haven't discussed an extension for Jacoby Ellsbury so far this season, sources tell Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. The outfielder will be eligible to hit the open market after the 2013 campaign.
Ellsbury is earning $9MM in his walk year after going through his final arbitration-eligible offseason. The outfielder is off to a slow start through 45 games this season, and some have openly wondered if the distraction of his impending free agency is partly responsible for his .242/.307/.335 slash line.
The 29-year-old, who ranks third on Tim Dierkes' free agent power rankings, will have to pick things up if he hopes to cash in this winter. Ellsbury is hoping for a repeat of his amazing 2011 season where he hit .321/.376/.552 with 32 homers and 39 steals with a career high 732 plate appearances. ESPN's Buster Olney recently wrote that it would "be a crusher" to Ellsbury if he continues at his current trajectory, noting that he could have pushed for a $100MM contract with a return to those 2011 numbers.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
The Yankees have turned reclamation projects such as Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells into a 1.5 game lead over the Red Sox for first place in the American League East. They'll face the rival Orioles today as Hiroki Kuroda heads to the mound. Here's more on Kuroda and the Bronx Bombers for your Wednesday morning reading...
- Kuroda has quietly become one of the best free agent signings in Yankees history, writes Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal. Kuroda wasn't even the top Yankees headline on the day he signed, Costa notes, as that contract came on the same day as the Michael Pineda/Jesus Montero trade. However, Kuroda's dominance on one-year deals with no long-term risk makes him an incredible value.
- The success of the non-Mariano Rivera members of the Yankees' bullpen will help Hal Steinbrenner come close to achieving his goal of getting under the $189MM luxury tax threshhold in 2014, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. David Robertson should have the first crack as Rivera's successor, but beyond his salary, the Yankees will have little in the way of payroll commitment in the bullpen. Rivera, Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan all figure to be off the books, and the Yankees have solid in-house alternatives.
- David Adams is a rarity among the current crop of Yankees, writes Scott Cacciola of the New York Times, as he was drafted and developed by the organization rather than acquired via free agency or trade. Cacciola spoke with Adams and manager Joe Girardi about the 26-year-old's recent promotion.
The Orioles made headlines last night by announcing the promotion of Kevin Gausman to the Majors. Gausman, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 draft, reached Double-A as a 22-year-old and posted a 3.11 ERA with a 49-to-5 K/BB ratio in 46 1/3 innings there. With that promotion, Gausman becomes the first member of last year's first round to make it to the Majors. Among 2012 first-rounders, only four other players have even reached the Double-A level to this point.
Mike Zunino, selected by the Mariners at No. 3 overall, has reached Triple-A, but the catcher is hitting just .220/.290/.496 through 33 games in Tacoma. Given the Mariners' need for offense, however, he could be a hot streak away. Promoting him would allow the Mariners to use Jesus Montero at DH, but that only adds to a roster crunch of corner OF/1B/DH types in Seattle.
Right-hander Michael Wacha, the No. 19 overall selection by the Cardinals, has also reached Triple-A. He's posted a 2.05 ERA, 5.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 through 52 2/3 innings for the Memphis Redbirds to open the season, and the Cardinals have some injury problems in their rotation with Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook on the shelf. For now, they've gone with John Gast and Tyler Lyons over Wacha.
Marcus Stroman's 50-game suspension for a positive stimulant has finished, and the Blue Jays right-hander made a strong debut at Double-A with five scoreless innings in a start. Many pegged the Duke product to be the quickest first rounder to reach the Majors last year, and Baseball America's Ben Badler wrote Sunday that it "shouldn't take him long" before he's big league ready.
James Ramsey, the Cardinals' other selection (No. 23), is the only other player from the first round to reach Double-A or higher thus far. As an outfielder, he has an uphill battle to reach the Major Leagues given the presence of Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Carlos Beltran and top prospect Oscar Taveras within the Cardinals organization. He's a huge long shot, but he's advanced further than most college players from the first round already.
Let's open this up to a poll...
The Orioles are calling up right-hander Kevin Gausman, according to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Gausman will make his big league debut on Thursday night, taking the mound against the Blue Jays.
Gausman ranked No. 26 on both Baseball America's and Keith Law's prospect rankings for ESPN, while MLB.com listed him ten spots lower at No. 36. Prior to the season, BA wrote that Gausman's "aptitude and intelligence help set him apart." The youngster, who is second only to Dylan Bundy in Baltimore's system, is praised by BA for his premium fastball and changeup.
If he sticks on the O's roster, Gausman could potentially gain Super Two status and trigger arbitration a year early. Had the the Orioles waited until mid-June or later to promote the pitcher, they could have avoided the possibility of him becoming a Super Two player after the 2015 season. For now, the 22-year-old is slated to be under team control through 2019.
Jose Canseco will be joining the Fort Worth Cats of the independent United League, the team announced. Canseco will serve as a player-coach during the team's opening home stand against the Edinburg Roadrunners, managed by Jose's twin brother Ozzie. This isn't Canseco's first go-around in an independent league, as the 48-year-old has appeared for clubs in several circuits since completing a 17-year big league career. Here is tonight's look around the rest of the baseball world..
- Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune and other reporters discussed the state of the White Sox with GM Rick Hahn. "We're not going to change that path and will focus on this season until it's readily apparent that we have to change our focus," said Hahn, regarding the decision to buy or sell as the season progresses. The White Sox are currently 20-23, good for fourth in the AL Central.
- While the Reds have looked to add some balance to their lefty-heavy lineup, the market is not to their liking, reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. "There is really nobody out there that would make much of a difference. We’re just biding our time to see what happens," said General Manager Walt Jocketty.
- In his latest mailbag, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe was asked about potential trade targets for the Red Sox, including a possible closer upgrade. While the ninth inning is a concern, the club will fully want to test out Andrew Bailey before making a major trade for established reliever. Cafardo has heard baseball people speculate that the club could be interested in reacquiring Jonathan Papelbon, but they'll focus on what they already have first.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is still optimistic about the club's offense, but acknowledges some concerns in an interview with Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. When asked about possible moves to remedy under-performance and injury, Amaro said the team has looked to improve but cited a lack of activity around the league, "I don’t think a lot of teams feel like they know what they have yet, so you’re not seeing anything more than waiver-wire claims."
Here's a look at the latest out of the National League East..
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Cliff Lee's professional, unemotional view on trades has served him well. The 34-year-old left-hander could be a popular trade target if the Philles end up as sellers at the deadline, but that apparently doesn't bother Lee. "Normally, if you're traded you go from a team that's not in a good situation to a team that's winning,'' the veteran said.
- The Nationals will have some interesting roster decisions to make regarding their infield, suggests Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal argues that because of last winter's two-year deal for Adam LaRoche, the club will have difficulty in finding a spot for top prospect Anthony Rendon, with his natural position taken by Ryan Zimmerman. Rendon, who has played at second base of late, has a bat that "should make him an impact big leaguer" according to Baseball America.
- The Mets have discussed demoting Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, and Jordany Valdespin, according to Andy Martino of NYDailyNews.com. Though there is nothing to suggest that the club would demote the struggling trio all in one fell swoop, Martino argues that the Mets need to make just such a move in order to best move forward.
Max Fogle contributed to this post.
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The Yankees will now be partners in a new Major League Soccer franchise, as announced on MLB.com. "We look forward to the opportunity to work with Manchester City to create something very special for the soccer fans of New York -- and to bringing another terrific team to this city for all sports fans to enjoy," stated Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner. This isn't the Bombers' first foray into the world of soccer as they had a marketing partnership with Manchester United during their "YankeeNets" phase. Here's a look at tonight's other news from the American League East..
- Ben Francisco's days with the Yankees may be coming to an end, opines Mike Axisa of the River Avenue Blues blog. The 31-year-old outfielder has struggled to provide an impact in New York, hitting for just a .114/220/.182 line in 50 plate appearances so far this season.
- Jacoby Ellsbury has not played as the Red Sox would have hoped in his contract year, notes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Lauber compares Ellsbury to Red Sox teammates Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, as both performed below expectations during their final seasons before hitting free agency. Ellsbury is off to a .241/.303/.335 start in a league-leading 208 PA.
- Lauber also discusses how the two-year, $10MM deal Jonny Gomes signed with the Red Sox has affected the outfielder. While Gomes has gotten off to a slow start in 2013, Lauber argues that the security of a multiyear deal has helped the 32-year-old focus on providing leadership to younger Red Sox players.
The Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliate announced the release of Miguel Batista, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (on Twitter). The 42-year-old right-hander had signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays back in April. Batista struggled to establish himself in Triple-A Buffalo however, pitching to an 8.36 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 5.1 BB/9 over 28 innings.
In 2012, Batista posted a 4.61 ERA, 6.2 K/9 and 5.2 BB/9 in 52 and 2/3 innings with both the Braves and the Mets. The 18-year veteran was hoping to return to Toronto after last pitching for the club in the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Batista owns a career 4.48 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 over 1956 and 1/3 innings.
The latest minor moves...
- The Rangers plan to purchase the contract of lefty reliever Neal Cotts if tonight's game is played, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. The 33-year-old hasn't seen big league action since 2009, but he's been dominant in 23 Triple-A innings this year. The Rangers already have an open spot on their 40-man roster for him.
- The Hanshin Tigers have a basic agreement with righty reliever Blaine Boyer, according to Sanspo (via Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker). Boyer, 31, pitched 15 relief innings for the Royals' Triple-A affiliate before exercising his out clause to pursue the opportunity in Japan.
- The Mariners signed 17-year-old Brazilian righty Daniel Missaki, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. Badler notes that he was the youngest player in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
- The Athletics announced that first baseman Daric Barton cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A, after he was designated for assignment Saturday to open a spot for Chris Young. He's earning $1.1MM this year, which may have limited interest. Barton led the American League in walks as a 24-year-old in 2010, but has battled injuries since. He's still a walk machine at Triple-A, though, with a .422 OBP through 128 plate appearances.
- The Angels outrighted outfielder Scott Cousins to Triple-A yesterday, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. Cousins had been designated for assignment on Saturday to make room for Chris Nelson.
- The Yankees outrighted infielder Alberto Gonzalez to Triple-A yesterday, according to the International League transactions page. Gonzalez had been designated for assignment on Saturday to make room for Reid Brignac.
- Three players currently reside in DFA limbo: Jon Rauch of the Marlins, Derek Lowe of the Rangers, and Michael Bowden of the Cubs. Rauch and Lowe figure to be released by their clubs in the coming days, while Bowden will have to decide whether to accept an outright assignment if he clears waivers.