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Alex Rodriguez's public battle with the Yankees took another turn today when the slugger denied a report that the club intends to fine him a day's pay for conduct during his recent rehab assignment. According to ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand, a hand-delivered letter written by Yankees GM Brian Cashman informed A-Rod that the club plans to punish him for seeking a second opinion on his quadriceps injury and also for failing to appear at Yankee Stadium last month after meeting with MLB officials to discuss the Biogenesis investigation. In an article by Bryan Hoch and Josh Vitale of MLB.com, however, A-Rod denied receiving the letter. "Maybe they sent it to my lawyers," Rodriguez said. "But I'm not really going to talk about that." More Saturday night MLB links…
- Neither Ian Desmond nor Jordan Zimmermann appear close to contract extensions with the Nationals, Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports. Zimmermann, 27, said his camp and the Nationals broached the subject in the offseason but didn't come close to an agreement. "I'm not going to give a huge team discount," Zimmermann warned. "Just something fair is all I ask."Meanwhile, Desmond recognizes that he has two years of arbitration remaining and doesn't appear to be in a hurry to put together a deal, according to Ladson.
- Everth Cabrera's recent suspension has reinforced the fact that the Padres' farm system is thin on shortstop talent, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune says. “You’d like to have a shortstop at every level that you feel is a prospect – has a chance to be an everyday guy,” assistant GM Chad MacDonald said. However, as Sanders notes, the club's best prospects at the position remain in the lower minors. For now, former first-round pick Logan Forsythe figures to get an extended look at short for the Friars.
- Astros top prospect George Springer may finish the season at Triple-A, Brian McTaggart and Chris Abshire of MLB.com say. Springer, 23, is hitting .303/.410/.597 with 38 stolen bases across stops at Double-A and Triple-A this season. However, Astros manager Bo Porter didn't give any indication of when Springer might be called up to the major league club when discussing the outfielder today.
- Will Middlebrooks was called up to man third base for the Red Sox because he has more experience at the hot corner than Xander Bogaerts, Scott McLaughlin of WEEI.com reports. Many speculated that Bogaerts, who's hit .300/.392/.487 in 481 minor league plate appearances this season, would get the call, but manager John Farrell says the team prefers that he continue to take reps at third in the minors. The Sox want Bogaerts to be ready in case Middlebrooks struggles or hits the disabled list, according to McLaughlin.
If not for the hapless Miami Marlins, the Astros would be in line for the worst record in baseball for the third straight season. Clearly, it's been a rough stretch for the Houston fan base. The good news is that a strong group of reinforcements is on the way to The Show. The fans will have to take a leap of faith while the high-ceiling, minor-league talent rises to the surface.
The last two-plus years of mediocrity in Houston have allowed the organization to receive the first overall draft picks in both 2012 and 2013. An astute group of talent evaluators and baseball minds in the scouting department has helped to ensure the organization not only made the most of its first overall selections, but also made some clever trades for young talent while shedding players that did not figure into the rebuilding vision.
General Manager Jeff Luhnow has worked to ensure the club is pointed in the right direction as it moves to recapture some of the organization's past successes. But, truth be told, the club's front office and scouting department began to find its footing in 2010 — almost two years before Luhnow was hired away from the St. Louis Cardinals to replace ousted GM Ed Wade.
From 2000 to 2009 the Astros' drafting efforts bordered on brutal — especially when focusing on the club's first choice each season. Current Astros catcher Jason Castro (2008) stands out as the lone bright spot in an otherwise dreary decade. It certainly didn't help that the club's free agent exploits cost the scouting department three first round selections (2003, 2004, 2007) and resulted in the selection of forgettable prospects such as Robert Stiehl, Derick Grigsby, and Max Sapp.
As mentioned above, the 2010 season began the major shift for the Astros and the past five first round draft picks are among the 10 best prospects in the system. Let's have a closer look at them:
2010 — Delino DeShields Jr., 2B, Georgia HS: Reds prospect Billy Hamilton received a ton of hype last year for breaking the century mark in steals, but DeShields also swiped more than 100 bags in a much quieter fashion. It's been a slower go for the 20-year-old Astros prospect in 2013 as he's managed just 15 steals in 24 attempts. He's holding his own at the plate with a .280 batting average but has yet to have a true breakout to solidify himself as one of the top prospects in the game.
2010 — Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Illinois HS: Foltynewicz flew under the radar for a few seasons but the hype is starting to build — and it's easy to see why. The right-hander's velocity has crept up in the past year and he's been clocked as high as 98-100 mph in recent starts. Only 21, he opened the 2013 season in the offense-padding launching pad in Lancaster (High-A) and held his own before a promotion to Double-A in early May. Since that time, hitters have batted just .157 against him, and he has a 1.41 ERA in nine appearances. Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle recently took a look at Foltynewicz and highlighted both his talent and his drive to succeed. "Everybody knows what kind of power and strength he's got… But the encouraging part is since he's been here we're starting to get better down location, OK, and his breaking stuff and changeup (are) really coming along really nice… you won't find much better talent than he's got."
2011 — George Springer, CF, University of Connecticut: It took a couple of years but Springer has officially sprung. The young outfielder is tapping into his raw power on a more consistent basis (18 homers, .618 slugging percentage) while treading water with his contact rates. Springer still strikes out a lot (77 strikeouts in 61 games) but the tradeoff for the power output is worth it. He could be ready to patrol the outfield in Houston before the 2014 All-Star break. In another piece for the Chronicle, Smith featured Springer, and the prospect said he's not trying to put too much pressure on himself: "It's just kind of one of those things where I'm not too concerned about the results. I just try to go out and compete and play hard and develop as a player," Springer said. "It's one of those things where I was told to just let the results happen… For me, it's all about slowing myself down, having a lot of fun…"
2012 — Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico HS: One of the youngest hitters in A-ball at 18, Correa has started to heat up and has become more consistent while flashing the tools that caused him to go first overall in 2012. After hitting .221 in April, the young Puerto Rican's batting average is now up to .292, and he's walked 30 times in 50 games. Correa is still at least two years away from adding stability to the Astros' big league shortstop position but the wait could be well worth it. Brandon Simes of MiLB.com recently spoke to the young infielder and Correa gave his thoughts on what Mark Appel should look to do now that he's been drafted by the Astros. "Just focus on making the organization proud, keep working hard and try to get to the big leagues as fast as possible," Correa said. "I saw him getting called. I'm very excited to have him here with us in the organization. I'm looking forward to meeting him and being able to play together."
2013 — Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford University: Appel is not property of the Astros just yet — and something could still go terribly wrong — but there is a very good chance that the college senior will eventually come to terms with his hometown club. After turning down the Pittsburgh Pirates as the eighth overall selection of the 2012 draft, the right-handed pitcher's gamble paid off as he has become an even better player, will earn a larger signing bonus, and appears ready to develop into one of the top pitching prospects in the game.
As the saying goes, things are always darkest before the dawn, and – if the minor league system is any indication – Houston fans are in for a bright future.
We're a week away from the August 15 deadline for MLB teams to sign their 2011 draft picks. Here's the latest on a few signings, a few players still in negotiations and a few players who are going to college…
- The Dodgers have agreed to terms with sixth-rounder Scott Barlow and 10th-rounder Tyler Ogle, reports Jim Callis of Baseball America. (Twitter links) Barlow, a right-hander who had committed to Fresno State, will earn a $150K bonus. Ogle, a product of the University of Oklahoma, received a $100K bonus.
- George Springer is expected to sign the Astros, tweets Stephen Goff of the Houston Examiner. Goff said he would be surprised if the Astros didn't ink their first-round pick, selected 11th overall.
- Right-hander Jack Armstrong, Houston's third-round selection, talks to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart about his elbow problems and how he isn't worried about the signing deadline. The piece also notes that Springer passed his physical with the team last week. Springer and Armstrong are the only two unsigned players among the Astros' first 13 draft picks.
- "The Royals will be offering the biggest bonus in franchise history" to Bubba Starling, writes Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star, and while "most observers expect a contract to be signed…there is just enough in [agent Scott] Boras’ history and confidence to make everyone unsure." Mellinger also briefly details Boras' background and his dealings with the Royals over the last several years.
- Rangers officials tell MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan that they don't expect sixth-round pick Derek Fisher to sign a contract. Fisher, the Pennsylvania high school player of the year, has a commitment to the University of Virginia and "his asking price exceeds what the Rangers are willing to pay."
- The Brewers officially announced the signing of second-rounder Jorge Lopez, reports MLB.com's Audrey Snyder. We heard last week that Milwaukee had agreed to terms with Lopez and fifth-rounder Michael Reed, though no final word has yet come on Reed's deal.
- The Phillies have signed seventh-round pick Kenny Giles to a contract with a $250K bonus, reports Baseball America's Jim Callis (Twitter link). Giles, a high-schooler who had committed to the University of Arizona, "has touched 99 mph with his fastball."
- Marlins second-round pick Adam Conley and Diamondbacks seventh-rounder Ben Roberts will "definitely sign," reports Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game USA, while Yankees sixth-round selection Jake Cave is "about 95 percent" signed. (Twitter links)
- Rogers also tweets that Taylor Ard (a 25th-round pick for the Red Sox) and Derek Jones (the Orioles' 13th-rounder) will not sign. Both players have committed to attend Washington State.
- WEEI.com's Alex Speier has an update on the status of every Red Sox pick from the first 10 rounds of the draft, including both signed and unsigned players.
Thanks to our loyal readers, MLBTR generated 3.1 million pageviews over the weekend! We appreciate you making MLBTR a regular stop, and have a lot of cool things planned in the coming months. On to today's links…
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson told ESPN New York's Adam Rubin that he tried to acquire a reliever before the deadline, but to no avail (Twitter link). He would not rule out a trade before August 31st.
- The Red Sox will not have interest in Lyle Overbay, reports Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe (on Twitter). The Pirates designated Overbay for assignment today, and as Cafardo notes, he has great numbers in Fenway Park: .323/.395/.500 in 177 plate appearances.
- Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (via Twitter) doesn't envision Jason Isringhausen re-signing with the Mets this offseason.
- The Astros are very confident that they'll sign first-round pick George Springer, but it may come down to the last week, tweets MLB.com's Alyson Footer. Last week we learned that Springer's father met with the independent league Long Island Ducks.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick names a bunch of waiver trade candidates in his latest article.
- The Twins wanted closer Drew Storen and minor league second baseman Stephen Lombardozzi for center fielder Denard Span, and the Nationals declined, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson. I think that would have been a solid deal for Washington.
- The Indians announced they signed infielder Argenis Reyes to a minor league deal; he'd been playing independent ball. In slightly more important news, Ubaldo Jimenez will debut for the Tribe Friday in Texas.
- The extent of Boston's interest in Ubaldo? Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald says exec Allard Baird put in a call on Thursday and the Red Sox weren't in touch after that.
- Both sides have denounced the $30MM figure that was floated for Dylan Bundy, tweets MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. Talks are expected to start this week for the Orioles' fourth overall pick. Ghiroli has more on the topic here. Bundy is advised by Jay Franklin at BBI Sports Group; the company also employs his father.
- The Rockies were close to trading third baseman Ian Stewart to an undisclosed National League team yesterday, reports Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post, but the deal fell apart with a half hour to go.
- The Mariners and Red Sox are sharing the costs of Erik Bedard's incentives, reports Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.
- Newly-acquired players Zack Wheeler and Jonathan Singelton head updated top ten prospects lists for the Mets and Astros, courtesy of Baseball America's Jim Callis.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Argenis Reyes | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Cleveland Indians | Colorado Rockies | Denard Span | Drew Storen | Dylan Bundy | Erik Bedard | George Springer | Houston Astros | Ian Stewart | Jason Isringhausen | Lyle Overbay | Minnesota Twins | New York Mets | Seattle Mariners | Ubaldo Jimenez | Washington Nationals
1:40pm: Springer's father explained to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart that he and his son met with the Ducks' GM as a contingency in case an agreement can't be reached. Returning to college is not a likely option for Springer.
12:23pm: Astros first-round draft pick George Springer may sign with the independent league Long Island Ducks, tweets @zoodig. This development is a sign that the University of Connecticut outfielder is not close to a deal with the deadline about three weeks away.
The typical bonus for the #11 pick is in the $1.8-2MM range, according to Baseball America.
George Springer credits his father – a “tremendous athlete” – for passing along the genes that prompted Baseball America to suggest that the Astros’ first round selection may be the best college athlete in this year’s draft. Springer’s mother passed along something other than athletic genes; she introduced her son to gymnastics at a young age.
“It helped me tremendously with body control and body awareness and just being able to understand my own strength,” Springer said on a conference call.
The 11th overall selection can do flips standing or on the run, but his biggest asset on the baseball field is speed. Springer plays an aggressive, energetic center field for the UConn Huskies, though he’s open to shifting to a different position if that’s what the Astros want.
Before Springer joins the Astros’ outfield, they have to sign him. The commissioner’s office has typically recommended bonuses in the $1.5-2MM range for 11th overall selections, but Springer’s college season is still underway, so he says he has a “long way to go” before negotiating a potential bonus with the Astros.
“I really don’t know,” he said. “I’m still focused on helping [UConn] win.”
The draft takes place one week from today; here’s the latest as teams prepare their draft boards for next Monday…
- ESPN.com’s Keith Law projects the Pirates to select UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole with the first overall pick, though he says they’re still seriously in on Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen and high school outfielder Bubba Starling. It’s too early to rule out Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon either.
- The D’Backs could take Hultzen, UCLA right-hander Trevor Bauer or high schooler Dylan Bundy third overall, according to Law.
- It looks like the Orioles will take an arm fourth overall; they have Bundy, high schooler Archie Bradley and Cole in their sights.
- If Bauer falls to the Indians, they’ll take him, according to Law.
- The Cubs “sent a small army” to watch outfielder George Springer at the Big East tournament.
- The Padres are interested in UConn right-hander Matt Barnes and Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray.
- The top three players on one team’s draft board are advised by agent Scott Boras, according to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan.
- Rendon's stock is down a bit because of a dip in production and injury concerns, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, but Rendon's coach at Rice, Wayne Graham, expects the third baseman to go within the top two picks.
- The Giants shouldn't (and won't) alter their draft strategy in response to Buster Posey's season-ending injury, writes Jim Callis of Baseball America in a mailbag.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: 2011 Amateur Draft | Anthony Rendon | Archie Bradley | Arizona Diamondbacks | Baltimore Orioles | Bubba Starling | Chicago Cubs | Cleveland Indians | Danny Hultzen | Dylan Bundy | George Springer | Gerrit Cole | Pittsburgh Pirates | San Diego Padres | Trevor Bauer
With the MLB draft coming up on June 6th, let's take a look at some draft-related tidbits..
- Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets that the Red Sox released Ryan Harvey, who was the 2003 1st round pick of the Cubs. The 26-year-old was trying to convert from the outfield to the mound but never found his way out of extended Spring Training with Boston.
- There's been talk of a lack of elite bats in this year's draft, but there appears to be a good amount of depth when it comes to the outfield prospects, writes Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. Mayo highlights a number of the top outfielders in the draft, including Bubba Starling, George Springer, Mikie Mahtook, and Jackie Bradley.
- More from Mayo who writes that there's a good deal of buzz around Stanford closer Chris Reed, who is seen by some scouts as a starter. Reed, it appears, will be taken somewhere in the sandwich round.
- Meanwhile, Mayo writes that two pitchers, Oregon lefty Tyler Anderson and Texas A&M right-hander John Stilson, may have hurt their stock with recent poor outings.
The buzz about the MLB draft is intensifying and understandably so – the big day is less than two weeks away. Here’s the latest:
- Baseball America presents its top 200 draft prospects. Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon is first on the list and high school right-hander Dylan Bundy leapfrogged UCLA righty Gerrit Cole to take the second spot on BA’s list.
- Meanwhile, ESPN.com's Keith Law ranks his top 100 draft-eligible players. Cole (#1), Rendon (#2) and high school outfielder Bubba Starling (#3) top his list and Bundy comes in fourth.
- Two UConn Huskies, Matt Barnes and George Springer, are gaining momentum, according to Jason A. Churchill of ESPN.com. Cole, however, is losing momentum.
- In his latest chat, Jim Callis of Baseball America says he thinks Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray can start or become a dynamic closer.
- Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com previews this year's draft-eligible middle infielders, starting with high schooler Francisco Lindor, an outstanding defender who can hit for average and some power.
- University of Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong told Mayo that he doesn't mind at all when people doubt him because of his size (he's 5'9"). Wong says he has spoken to fellow Hawaiian Shane Victorino about dealing with the draft.
- White Sox scouting director Doug Laumann told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that the White Sox should get some "pretty good players" even though their first pick is the 47th overall selection. Chicago could end up taking a position player this year, according to Laumann.
All of a sudden, the 2011 draft is just six weeks away. Here's the latest on some of the available prospects and one team's approach to the big event:
- Led by projected 2011 first rounders Matt Barnes and George Springer, Connecticut baseball is on the rise, Jim Callis writes in the latest edition of Ask BA. Click here for MLBTR’s Q&A with Springer.
- TCU left-hander Matt Purke, who has been shut down with shoulder soreness, may have to reestablish his value like Anthony Ranaudo did last summer, according to Callis. Click here for MLBTR's Q&A with Purke.
- As Callis explains, South Carolina outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. may fall to the second half of the first round or the supplementary round. If Bradley falls, it will be because of his spring sruggles and tools, not simply because of his recent wrist injury.
- The Mets are allowing themselves to be greedy with the 13th overall selection this year. Paul DePodesta, the Mets' VP of player development and amateur scouting, told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that the Mets don't intend to settle with their top pick. "We want tools, skills, guys who can run and hit for power and defend. We want to be greedy. We want it all. The reality is those guys come off the board awfully quickly."