We’re a bit less than two months away from the 2016 amateur draft, and there figures to be quite a bit of chatter regarding the top high school and college talent in the nation over the coming months. Today, Keith Law and Eric Longenhagen of ESPN.com released their Top 50 draft prospects (subscription required and recommended), adding another excellent resource to stand alongside previously released rankings from Baseball America and from MLB.com. For those interested, MLBTR will run the first installment of its Draft Prospect Q&A series tomorrow afternoon, starting with one of the top bats of the class.
A few more notes from around the game as Tuesday night winds to a close…
- The Red Sox have considered activating catcher Christian Vazquez from the disabled list, manager John Farrell told reporters, including the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier (Twitter link). Per Farrell, nothing is imminent, but the club has had ongoing discussions about its catching situation. ESPN Boston’s Scott Lauber points out (Twitter link) that sophomore backstop Blake Swihart had a rough game defensively but also notes that Vazquez, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, has yet to catch three games in a row on his rehab assignment.
- Former Blue Jays/Mariners outfielder Eric Thames sat down with Blake Murphy of VICE Sports to discuss his transition to the Korea Baseball Organization and his rise to the status as arguably the league’s best player. The 29-year-old outfielder/first baseman was the KBO’s MVP last season, batting .381/.497/.790 with 47 homers and, incredibly 40 stolen bases (despite never stealing more than eight in a North American season). Thames explained the work he’s put in with coach Jun-ho Jeon — known as the Stolen Base King of Korea. “Even little things like the way the glove’s tilted a little bit—’OK, go.’ ’On this pitch, go,'” Thames explained. “It’s like, are you serious? And then—bam!—it’s a high leg kick or a curveball. It’s like, how do you even know that? He’s one of those guys that has a natural eye for base-stealing.” While the KBO is a notoriously hitter-friendly league, it’s tough to write off Thames’ outrageous production as a pure result of that environment. Thames discusses some elements that he feels have helped him improve his game and also discusses the cultural differences between playing in North America and in Korea. He’ll be a free agent next winter and added that he’s keeping an open mind to taking another shot at playing in the Majors. He’ll be somewhat of a wild card on next winter’s thin free agent market.
- The Dodgers’ bullpen has struggled early on, writes Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times, but the team isn’t planning on making any drastic alterations to the composition of its relief corps just yet. McCullough notes that if the Dodgers do elect to make some changes, there are myriad internal options, and those alternatives will only grow in numbers as Hyun-jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson get healthy. A return from any of those arms could push a starter like Alex Wood or Ross Stripling to the bullpen, and McCullough points out that the Dodgers’ large slate of arms and ability to take on salary should also present the club with various trade scenarios as the deadline approaches this summer.