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Kyle Freeland Rumors
6:48pm: The bonus will land at $2.3MM, reports Jim Callis of MLB.com (Twitter link). That means that Colorado will save about $890K to put towards other choices.
As Callis explains (Twitter links), Freeland ended up in a difficult bargaining position due to a high school medical report that contained speculation about possible elbow issues. In spite of that loss of leverage, Callis notes, Freeland still ended up with at least mid-first-round money.
6:19pm: The Rockies have reached agreement with first-rounder and eight overall choice Kyle Freeland, reports Thomas Harding of MLB.com (via Twitter). He reportedly will take hom a bonus of approximately $2.5MM, significantly below his slot allocation of $3.19MM.
Freeland, a lefty from Colorado who played college ball for the University of Evansville, was said to have raised medical concerns from some clubs prior to the draft. Nevertheless, he landed at fifth on Baseball America’s list of the top draft prospects and was rated seventh by MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo. (He slid to 19th on ESPN.com’s Keith Law’s final prospect ranking,)
The lean southpaw has plus-plus command, in BA’s estimation, and has moved his heater into the low to mid-90s. His secondary offerings are led by a mid-80s slider and also include an average curve and decent change. Though Law notes that Freeland did not face top-end competition in college, he did put up a ridiculous 15:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio last year. While Law rejects the comparison, Freeland has’s body type has led to comparisons to Chris Sale. And as with Sale when he was a draft prospect, some have expressed concern that he’s ultimately ticketed for the bullpen.
Colorado entered the draft with about $8.35MM in achievable pool money from the first ten rounds. The club was aggressive with taking high school prospects elsewhere in the early stages of the draft, nabbing Forrest Wall at 35th overall, Ryan Castellani at the 48th slot, and Kevin Padlo an Max George with its fifth and sixth-round choices. The Rockies will now have about $690K extra to play with in signing those players.
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.
For those interested in seeking to understand the root of the elbow injuries that have plagued the game this year, you’ll want to take a look at this position statement from the American Sports Medicine Institute (hat tip to Peter Gammons). The statement closely ties professional ligament injuries to risky throwing patterns in amateur baseball, including over-use, throwing while fatigued, and pitching year-round. Latin American pitchers have experienced a similar incidence of TJ as have their North American counterparts, the statement also says.
Here are some more notes from around the game:
- As the search for a new commissioner picks up steam, sitting commish Bud Selig said today that it was possible that a successor could come from outside the game, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark reports. “That’s a judgment call,” said Selig. “I know there’s been a lot of speculation in some stories. But that’s a judgment call this group will have to make. Understanding the culture of the sport is very important.” He emphasized that it “has to be an inclusive process,” though “people will have to make their own judgments on whether or not you want to stay inside baseball.”
- A familiar trio of the pitchers sits at the top of the most recent mock draft of ESPN.com’s Keith Law (Insider link). In that scenario, Law sees the Cubs looking to strike a below-slot deal with a player like college outfielder Michael Conforto with the fourth overall choice. Some well-regarded prep arms could fall into the sandwich and second round, Law notes, where teams that saved on their first picks will pick them with intentions of spending over slot.
- Attempting to approach the top ten picks of the draft as if he were the general manager making the final call, ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Insider link). While clubs often say they just want the best player available, Bowden says that few follow through with that. Clubs do draft with their needs (even at the major league level) in mind, says Bowden, in addition to financial, medical, and makeup considerations. Carrying through on his general observations, Bowden sends Evansville lefty Kyle Freeland to the Twins with the fifth overall pick and LSU righty Aaron Nola to the Phillies in the seven slot.
Pitching injuries are the big topic around the league, so let’s catch up on some of the latest commentary. Writing for GammonsDaily.com, Neil Weinberg offers a hypothesis (which, as he notes, may not really be testable) on the seeming Tommy John epidemic: what if the reason that more high-end professional pitchers are experiencing UCL tears is simply because better management at younger ages has actually prevented them from blowing their arms out at an earlier age? Meanwhile, pointing to the contractual effects of the injury bug, a GM tells Peter Gammons (Twitter link) that, “with all these injuries, I think pitchers will be reluctant to turn down extensions.” At Fangraphs, Wendy Thurm explores the costs to pitchers who lose time to TJ recovery, providing a bevy of salary information on past and current pitchers who have experienced the career-saving procedure.
Here are more notes from around the game:
- One player coming off of surger (on his shoulder) is righty Cristhian Martinez, who Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com says (Twitter link) is expected to throw for teams by the end of May. The 31-year-old, who was non-tendered by the Braves, was good for a 3.63 ERA in 151 1/3 innings over 2011-12.
- The Dodgers need to make some moves if they want to get back on trajectory, opines Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. While the team is among the most well-rounded in baseball, that does not mean it is without its faults; one scout tells Castrovince that “the bench is awful, the bullpen is fringy at best, maybe below average, and there’s no situational hitting.” Though Castrovince says that the stats don’t really bear out the latter concern, he says the team should take the much-discussed step of shipping out one of its highly-paid outfielders.
- Trading away players is an expectation for the Cubs, of course, and Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com discusses the team’s most likely pieces (after ace Jeff Samardzija). Though Jason Hammel just suffered his worst start of the year, Rogers says he still looks to be on track to bring back a strong prospect return. Nate Schierholtz and Jose Veras still look like trade chips to Rogers, though both will need to improve rather substantially to maximize their trade value to their current club.
- The latest amateur draft mocks are out, with MLB.com offering a first-round projection and Baseball America putting out its second version. The BA staff now sees a shake-up in the early portion: their board has the Marlins going with catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson at second overall, the Cubs choosing lefty collegiate Kyle Freeland in the fourth slot, and big-armed high schooler Tyler Kolek falling to the Phillies at number seven. Both MLB.com and BA like the Jays to take N.C. State shortstop Trea Turner and prep righty Touki Toussaint. Meanwhile, the Twins have interest in Jackson with their fifth-overall pick — if he lasts that long — tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN, though he notes that there is still no consensus as to whether he can stick behind the dish.
- Turning to the international market, there has of course been much discussion over whether — and, if so, how — a draft might be implemented. Writing for the Hardball Times, Alex Remington argues against a draft. Among his reasons are the concern that less young international players would have a chance to play professionally; various deleterious consequences that could occur in Latin America (without solving the issues that currently persist); and that implementation could pose a “logistical nightmare.”