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Carlos Rodon Rumors
After the Reds’ agreement with Alex Blandino yesterday, 25 of this year’s 34 first-round picks have signed or at least agreed to terms on their signing bonus. Here are some of the latest draft-related (non-signing) news items from around the league…
- As noted by Baseball America earlier this week, the White Sox have $6.58MM that they can spend on top pick Carlos Rodon without losing future draft picks (Twitter link). Chicago’s situation with Rodon is somewhat similar to the one the Mariners faced with Alex Jackson, with whom they agreed to terms earlier this week. Both Rodon and Jackson are advised by Scott Boras, and both teams signed picks 2-10 prior to dealing with their first-rounder. Because picks beyond the 10th round don’t count against a team’s bonus pool (unless a team gives a bonus of more than $100K in rounds 11-40), that basically places a firm limit on what type of bonus they can offer. If anything, Jackson may have had more leverage as a high school player. MLB.com’s Jim Callis recently noted that he fully expects Chicago to sign Rodon, though he added that the Sox haven’t inked a notable Boras draftee since Alex Fernandez back in 1990 (Twitter links).
- MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes that the Marlins considered Tyler Kolek the top player in this year’s draft, even over No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken. Had Miami selected first overall, they’d still have taken Kolek, Frisaro reports. Had Houston taken Kolek, however, Aiken was No. 2 on their board.
- While the Mets and top pick Michael Conforto are in agreement on a signing bonus in the range of $2.987MM, as reported earlier in the week, there does appear to be a bit of work left to do before the deal becomes official, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It isn’t clear exactly what the holdup is at this time, he adds, stating that it could be an issue of language within the contract. Whatever the issue, his signing bonus doesn’t appear to be a factor anymore.
- Cardinals third-rounder Trevor Megill has decided to return to college for his senior season rather than sign with St. Louis, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. Megill’s draft stock plummeted after he required Tommy John prior to his junior season at Loyola Marymount. MLB.com’s Jen Langosch noted recently that Megill would likely require an over-slot bonus or would return for his senior year.
As the draft approaches, we’ll keep tabs on the latest news and rumors right here:
- Top college arm Carlos Rodon is said to be asking for a bonus of over $6MM, reports Scout.com’s Kiley McDaniel (via Twitter). In McDaniel’s view, that makes Brady Aiken a strong favorite to go first overall to the Astros. The top overall slot comes with an approximately $7.9MM allotment, with the second choice landing at just over $6.8MM.
- Sitting at number two, the Marlins “appear to be focusing” on Rodon, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Rodon, who was born in Miami and is of Cuban descent, has been widely tied to the second slot in recent mock drafts. The Fish will not hesitate to add power arms due to the recent injury to Jose Fernandez, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. If we saw a guy who looked like Jose out there again, we’d go right after him,” said VP of scouting Stan Meek. “We want exactly that kind of guy.” Meek said that there was little to take away from Fernandez’s Tommy John procedure, other than the inherent risk in hard throwers: “[W]ith the velocity guys are throwing with today, you just can’t predict who is going to go down.”
- Evansville southpaw Kyle Freeland has “bad” medicals, a scouting director tells McDaniel (Twitter link). That has led some teams sitting late in the first round to decide to pass on Freeland, says McDaniel, who notes that the Rockies could still grab him with the eighth choice (potentially at a cut rate). In the introduction to its most recent mock draft, Baseball America noted that a clean MRI for Freeland has not cleared up concerns with his elbow for all clubs.
- Here are some more general draft sources to read through as you warm up for the evening: In a post that ties together all of his draft materials, McDaniel provides a wealth of information, including the latest on the rumored signability situations of various well-regarded prospects. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca cites several industry sources who like the draft’s pitching depth, especially at the high school level, and breaks down the best available players. In a piece for Baseball Prospectus, Kevin Whitaker explores what he calls the “coattail effect”: the tendency of less-touted players to see a bump in their draft stock by playing with higher-rated teammates. Rob Neyer of FOX Sports provides a fascinating oral history of the Cardinals‘ productive 2009 draft, including plenty of information from current Astros GM Jeff Luhnow. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes that, while the data shows that high school arms are generally riskier than those that have seen time at college, it does not suggest that a prep pitcher should never be taken first overall. Colleague Tony Blengino explains how teams’ draft boards are put together and utilized.
Brady Aiken and Carlos Rodon have been mentioned the most frequently as potential options for the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, but CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman expands on a rumor that has been picking up steam that could have the Astros cutting a deal with high school shortstop Nick Gordon (brother of Dee Gordon and son of Tom Gordon) in order to spend more heavily elsewhere. Heyman notes that it could very well be just a rumor, but it’s “stirring intrigue in baseball circles.” It wouldn’t be the first time that Houston cut a deal at 1-1, as just two years ago they elected to select Carlos Correa in order to later sign Lance McCullers Jr. and Rio Ruiz to over-slot deals. One agent tells Heyman that he thinks Houston will look to cut a deal, with a second agent telling him the Astros are “all about the deal” and rival executives expressing that they simply can’t even guess what the Astros and GM Jeff Luhnow will do.
Here are several more draft-related links with the draft less than one week away…
- ESPN’s Keith Law tweets that he didn’t buy the Gordon/Astros rumor when he first heard it, and he’s still not a believer.
- Scout.com’s Kiley McDaniel tweets that the Gordon rumor is still alive and adds another to the mix, noting that the Blue Jays could reach and select Virginia righty Nick Howard as high as No. 11, while several other teams in the teens are kicking the tires on Howard. That would be quite the reach in comparison to the rankings of Howard by MLB.com (No. 75) and Law (No. 59). Baseball America is more bullish on Howard, ranking him 25th among draft prospects.
- Law appeared with ESPN’s Buster Olney on today’s Baseball Tonight Podcast to discuss a host of draft-related topics (Law appears from the 23:00 mark to the 45:00 mark). Law began by sharing a great deal from his experience with the Blue Jays’ front office, including the inner workings of a draft room, the unheralded successes of some area scouts and the change in decision-making processes as the draft progresses into the later rounds.
- Law also broke down the top of his most recent mock draft. In discussing the No. 5 pick (he has Gordon going to the Twins), he notes that Minnesota seems to be down to Gordon or LSU right-hander Aaron Nola. Law adds that he was on-hand for Nola’s most recent SEC start and saw executives from teams “from No. 2 on down,” including Marlins GM Dan Jennings, White Sox VP Kenny Williams and Cubs GM Jed Hoyer. Law says the Twins have been targeting Gordon “all spring.”
- Law feels that if Aiken, Rodon and Kolek are all off the board, the Cubs will cut a deal at No. 4 and turn around to “crush pitching” with their next several picks. He currently has them selecting Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto, who brings an element of plate discipline that their current top prospects lack. He adds that he could also see them cutting a deal with Nola, though he sees Nola as more of a mid-rotation starter (that could be in the bigs in a year’s time) than an ace.
- The White Sox selection of Kolek is “the lock” of the top five picks, says Law. He also adds that Marlins ownership has pushed strongly for Rodon due to his proximity to the Majors and marketability as a Cuban-American left-hander. Law calls his slider the best overall pitch in the draft. (Note that these bullets are a very brief summary, and those with heavy interest in the MLB draft will consider the Olney/Law segment time well spent upon listening to it in its entirety.)
We’re under two weeks away from the first round of the 2014 amateur draft, which kicks off on June 5. Here’s a collection of draft-related info…
- “No one knows what the Astros are going to do with the first pick,” an executive from a team with a top-six draft pick tells Peter Gammons. Another rival executive feels Houston may not take Carlos Rodon first since “many of the Astros people believe that picking a pitcher at the top is a gamble because of the historical predictability of pitchers.” (Though of course, the ‘Stros took Mark Appel last year). The exec feels the Astros are “looking…closely” at high school outfielder Alex Jackson, and if Houston passes on Jackson, the Marlins also like him a lot as the potential second overall pick. Miami is favored to draft a hitter due to the number of pitching prospects in their system but “they love [Tyler] Kolek and it would be hard to pass on Rodon,” Gammons writes.
- Also from Gammons’ wide-ranging column, he polls executives about which teams had the best drafts of the last decade, and also muses about there would be much more casual fan interest in the draft if picks could be traded.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington feels that a deep selection of talent is available, write Charlie Wilmoth and David Manel of Bucs Dugout. Huntington also addresses the pressure to select local players and how the Bucs are adjusting to picking near the end of the first round rather than with an early selection.
- If Rodon does go first overall, it doesn’t seem like the Astros would give him a record bonus simply because of how the draft’s rules have changed, Baseball America’s John Manuel writes. Scott Boras (Rodon’s adviser) argues that MLB should alter the draft format since the current rules hurt teams at the Major League level; the agent suggests such changes as not subjecting first-round contracts to the salary allotment cap or not taking away a team’s first round pick for signing free agents.
Baseball America has expanded its 2014 Draft Database to include the Top 200 names on the board, with high school left-hander Brady Aiken topping the list, followed by high school right-hander Tyler Kolek, NC State left-hander Carlos Rodon, high school catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson and Evansville left-hander Kyle Freeland. The list of names and video on each player is available for free to the public, while scouting reports require a subscription that is highly recommended for draft enthusiasts.
Here’s some more draft-related news…
- In BA’s latest Mock Draft, Rodon is now projected to slide to the White Sox with the No. 3 pick. As John Manuel explains, there is some concern over Rodon’s usage at the end of the season, including the decision to allow him to return to the mound after a 75-minute rain delay. NC State did not use him on three days’ rest with its season on the line in its final game, either. Manuel spoke to one executive who said, “The $6 million question is whether or not he is athletic enough to start long-term. Some guys think he is, but other guys aren’t so sure and think he may wind up a reliever. It just seems like there isn’t a $6 million player in this draft.” BA’s latest mock draft is available to the public without a subscription.
- Within that mock draft, Manuel notes that president Theo Epstein was part of a Cubs contingent that scouted Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost in last weekend’s Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. If Rodon doesn’t fall to the Cubs at No. 4, the team could sign Pentecost to a money-saving deal that would allow them to spend more in the later portions of the draft. BA’s current projection is for that very scenario to play out.
- Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reported last night (via Twitter) that Astros GM Jeff Luhnow attended Aiken’s most recent outing on Monday before heading to Japan with director of pro scouting Kevin Goldstein.
- BA’s Aaron Fitt writes that Louisiana State right-hander Aaron Nola is “clearly college baseball’s best pitcher” and feels that he should reach the Major Leagues relatively quickly after being drafted. Fitt recaps Nola’s most recent start, noting that his fastball sat 95-96 mph when he got into a first-inning jam then settled in at 92-94 mph through the eighth inning. He also features a 79-81 mph slider that gives right-handers fits when thrown inside and an 83-84 mph changeup that generates grounders versus lefties. Nola has dominated the nation’s best conference for two years running, writes Fitt. He is universally regarded as a Top 10 pick in the upcoming draft.
- From that same piece, Fitt reports that at least five GMs were on-hand to see surefire first-rounder Tyler Beede (Vanderbilt) turn in an underwhelming performance. Beede’s command issues have caused his draft stock to slip this season, and he did little to help that perception with his latest outing. Though he set down the first seven he faced, he opened the fifth inning with three straight walks. After escaping unharmed, he opened the sixth with a walk and would later hit a pair of batters to open the seventh.
- ESPN’s Keith Law tweeted yesterday that the White Sox were in heavy on Nola’s start in the SEC Tournament, as Kenny Williams Jr. and owner Jerry Reinsdorf were on-hand to watch his outing. On a similar note, 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson reports that the Twins had VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff and top national crosschecker Tim O’Neil on-hand for Nola’s start (Twitter link).
Baseball’s amateur talent season is in full swing, even if it generates less national hype than the football version. (Of course, if you follow the NFL, you’ll want to pay close attention today to MLBTR’s sister site, ProFootballRumors.com, for the latest draft news and rumors.) The Rule 4 amateur draft is set to begin on June 5, with the July 2 international amateur signing period just behind it. Here’s the latest:
- Despite some recent questions, N.C. State lefty Carlos Rodon still lands atop the first mock draft of Baseball America’s John Manuel. While the Astros will surely be tempted by an attractive group of prep arms that includes Tyler Kolek and Brady Aiken, says Manuel, Rodon’s two primary offerings are good enough to make him a big league pen option right now, though obviously he’ll be taken as a starter. Ultimately, his “combination of stuff, physicality and track record” makes Rodon the most likely pick for Houston, in Manuel’s estimation. The first position player off the board in the mock is high school shortstop Nick Gordon, who Manuel has going to the Twins fifth overall.
- Aiken takes top billing in the top 100 draft prospect list produced by ESPN.com’s Keith Law (Insider link), based upon his wide arsenal of offerings and lofty ceiling. One of the largest gaps among the top potential choices (as between Law’s ranking and Manuel’s draft projection) belongs to University of San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer. Law places him at fifth overall, citing his size, athleticism, and projectable power, while Manuel believes he could fall into the second half of the first round.
- It was recently reported that Jeff Hoffman, who had been viewed as a top-five choice, will undergo Tommy John surgery. While that surely bumps him down the board, Law still has Hoffman as the 25th-best player available, while Manuel thinks the Blue Jays will take a chance on his rehab with the second of the team’s two early-round choices (9th and 11th overall).
- In response to reader questions, MLB.com prospect guru Jim Callis joins the consensus holding Rodon, Kolek, and Aiken as the three top players available. While the White Sox may hope to get a college arm, says Callis, Chicago will probably take whoever is left from that trio (even if it is not Rodon) with the third choice in the draft.
- Profiling Louisiana State righty Aaron Nola, Callis says that Reds hurler Mike Leake is a good comp as a command-first, quick-to-the-bigs arm. But Callis opines that Nola has somewhat more upside than Leake, who was the most recent player to jump straight to MLB out of the draft.
- After recently discussing the set of international players expected to be signed to cap-busting bonuses, Ben Badler of Baseball America profiles five other July 2 prospects who are making waves. Leading the pack is Venezuelan outfielder Brayan Hernandez, who Badler says could near the $2MM level in his contract. According to Badler, Hernandez is both well-rounded and projectable, and could be headed to the Mariners.
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow was in attendance for North Carolina State pitcher Carlos Rodon's start Friday, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. The left-hander is widely considered the top talent in this summer's draft. In his outing, Rodon allowed two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings, walking four but striking out 12. While Luhnow wouldn't discuss Rodon specifically, he commented that the trip "made me miss my scouting days." Here are two more AL West notes:
- A source tells MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo that the Mariners feel "no urgency" to trade infielder Nick Franklin, who appears to be without a position following the Robinson Cano signing. There's healthy interest in Franklin after the 23-year-old flashed promise in his 2013 Major League debut, but a trade "doesn't seem like a given at this point," Cotillo writes.
- Joe Blanton could change minds in the Angels organization with another strong start, Bill Shaikin writes for the Los Angeles Times. The team previously "did not even pretend" that Blanton was in competition for a rotation job, and he struggled in his early spring outings. The Angels' limited pitching depth will likely be a factor in their ultimate decision on Blanton.
- Alternately, If the right-hander continues to show improvement and the Angels begin receiving calls on him, they would probably eat most of his salary in a trade, Shaikin says.
Byron Buxton holds the top position in Baseball America's 2014 ranking of the top 100 prospects in the sport. It's no surprise that Buxton was ranked #1 given that the Twins outfielder was similarly ranked in BA's midseason top 100 last summer. Red Sox infielder Xander Bogaerts, Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (who qualifies for the list despite his long career in Japan) and Cubs shortstop Javier Baez round out the top five.
Here's some more from around baseball….
- Baseball America's John Manuel picks out some of the best and worst rankings from the past 24 years of BA's Top 100 Prospects lists.
- The Braves signed long-term extensions with several core players but only extended Jason Heyward through his two remaining arbitration years. While some believe that this means Heyward's time in Atlanta is limited, MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby writes that "the expectation is that after next season, the Heyward deal can be expanded so that he, too, will be locked up at least through the first year in the new ballpark." Such a deal would require extending Heyward through at least his first two free agent years, which could get very expensive for the Braves if Heyward finally breaks out into stardom, as many have predicted for the young outfielder.
- Padres chairman Ron Fowler told reporters (including Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune) that the club is prepared to raise payroll even further beyond the current $87MM+ projection for 2014.
- In regards to negotiations with Chase Headley on a multiyear deal, Fowler said, “There has been dialogue and we will continue to have dialogue at the appropriate time through the appropriate sources.” Headley recently hinted that not much progress was being made and that talks could be tabled until after the season.
- According to a talent evaluator who has seen Joe Saunders throw, the veteran southpaw could be the "steal of February," the evaluator tells FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link). Saunders posted a rough 5.26 ERA over 183 innings for the Mariners last season. "No one saying he’s a star, but he’s a major-league pitcher," Rosenthal writes.
- The Nationals' acquisition of Doug Fister from the Tigers is the best transaction of the 2014 offseason, as judged by Fangraphs' Dave Cameron. The Fister trade headlines Cameron's list of the winter's top 10 moves.
- Though Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts denied that his club's profits were going anywhere but back into the team, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times wonders why the Cubs' revenues haven't been reflected in the Major League payroll.
- NC State left-hander Carlos Rodon stands alone in his own tier atop ESPN's Keith Law's four-tier breakdown of the 2014 draft's top prospects (Insider subscription required).
As the World Series shifts to St. Louis this weekend, here's the latest from around baseball…
- The Indians "would love" having Ubaldo Jimenez back on a one-year, $14.1MM qualifying offer contract (with an option for 2015) but not on an expensive long-term deal, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says on a podcast with Chris Fedor. Tim Lincecum's two-year, $35MM contract from the Giants has put the cost of pitching out of Cleveland's range for Jimenez, who the Tribe feel has been too inconsistent to merit a multiyear commitment.
- "There is so much money in the game, free agency is crazy," an anonymous GM tells Peter Gammons (Twitter link). The GM also believes Lincecum's deal will end any chance of Jimenez returning to Cleveland and that Jacoby Ellsbury will earn a contract worth more than $100MM in free agency this winter.
- MLBTR's Tim Dierkes, meanwhile, thinks Ellsbury's eventual contract could approach the $150MM threshold (Twitter link).
- There is at least one mystery candidate on the Cubs' short list of potential managers, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Rick Renteria, Torey Lovullo, A.J. Hinch, Manny Acta and Dave Martinez have already been connected to the job and Eric Wedge is the latest candidate to be scheduled for an interview. As to the identity of the unknown candidate, Wittenmyer says it isn't Sandy Alomar, Mike Maddux, Jose Oquendo, Don Mattingly, Jim Leyland or any of the Cubs' current coaching staff.
- NC State left-hander Carlos Rodon headlines the list of the top 30 prospects of the 2014 amateur draft, according to ESPN's Keith Law and Christopher Crawford (Insider subscription required). Rodon is considered the favorite to be the first overall selection in June and the Astros are already looking at him.
It's time for a managerial change in Arlington, opines ESPN's David Schoenfield, who breaks down Rangers manager Ron Washington's questionable bullpen management over the past week. Schoenfield concedes that the Rangers have had poor luck this season, including injuries to Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando and Colby Lewis' failure to return. However, he ultimately concludes: "…a team with flaws can't win if its manager is making decisions that hurt its chances of winning. The Rangers have seven games remaining. I suspect they'll be the final seven games Washington manages for the Rangers."
Here's more out of baseball's Western divisions…
- Lance Berkman hasn't decided if he will retire after the season or try to play again in 2014, he told Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle. Whatever Puma decides, no announcement will come until after the season.
- The Astros have secured the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft, and unsurprisingly they're already looking at NC State lefty Carlos Rodon, according to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. Rodon has long been assumed to be the No. 1 pick in next year's draft. Houston has selected Stanford right-hander Mark Appel and Puerto Rican prep shortstop Carlos Correa with the previous two No. 1 selections. McTaggart spoke with scouting director Mike Elias about the team's approach to the draft.
- The emergence of Chris Owings leaves the Diamondbacks with uncertainty at shortstop, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. GM Kevin Towers would like to get playing time for both Owings and Didi Gregorius but knows that a time-share will hinder both players' development. As Piecoro points out, Arizona also has Cliff Pennington under contract for next season. Willie Bloomquist, a free agent, isn't likely to return to the Snakes, he adds.