Matt Barnes Rumors

Rosenthal’s Latest: M’s, Hamels, Kennedy, Markakis, Norris

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a new notes column posted looking at a number of situations around the league. Here are some quick highlights…

  • The Mariners are on the hunt for a right-handed bat, but they prefer Nelson Cruz to signing Hanley Ramirez or trading for Matt Kemp. Justin Upton is also somewhere on their wish list and is potentially available. Rosenthal writes that the Mariners “are going to do something” of significance to address that search.
  • The Phillies are doing background work on the makeup of Red Sox prospects Christian Vazquez, Mookie Betts and Matt Barnes, Rosenthal hears, fueling some speculation about a Cole Hamels trade. Rosenthal says the Sox are disinclined to move Vazquez or Blake Swihart, however, and previous reports have indicated that the team is loath to consider parting with Betts. As others have noted, Rosenthal feels that Hamels would likely require the Red Sox to exercise his 2019 option ($20MM) in advance, bringing the total he is owed to $110MM over the next five years.
  • The Padres are continuing to listen to offers for Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy, with Kennedy being the most likely of the three to go. Kennedy is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $10.3MM in 2015, and the Royals are interested in the right-hander. Rosenthal also speculatively lists the Rangers as a club to watch in the Kennedy market.
  • A reunion between Nick Markakis and the Orioles seemed like a foregone conclusion at one point, but the two sides still aren’t close to a deal and talks are said to be merely “inching along.” Rosenthal wonders what’s taking so long but does note that the O’s are considering Yasmany Tomas and still working with Cruz as well, so it seems fair to speculate that having three options in the corner outfield is slowing the Markakis progress. As Rosenthal notes, the longer the wait, the more likely it is that Markakis explores other options more seriously.
  • Since the publication of that column, Rosenthal has tweeted that the Orioles might be willing to move Bud Norris, who is projected by Swartz to earn $8.7MM in 2015. Norris is a free agent next season but pitched well in 2014, posting a 3.65 ERA with 7.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 42.2 percent ground-ball rate in 165 1/3 innings. Rosenthal also hears that the O’s have gotten “moderate” interest in Ubaldo Jimenez, although with $38.75MM remaining on his contract, I’d imagine he could only be swapped for another bad contract.

Prospect Rumor Roundup: First Half Disappointments

We're just past the halfway mark of the 2013 Major League Baseball season and well past the midway point of the Minor League Baseball season. While taking stock of the top prospects from around baseball, a number of names appear in the "disappointment column," which is not surprising given the general volatility of young players. Below, we take a look at some of the prospects having disappointing seasons, as well as some educated guesses as to what might be ailing them.

Matt Barnes, RHP, Red Sox: Barnes' season hasn't been as bad as some of the other players on this list but it's still been a disappointing 2013 for the right-handed hurler. The former first-round pick was expected to zoom through the minor leagues and possibly even help the big league club this season, but he currently has a 5.32 ERA with 78 hits allowed in 67 2/3 innings at the Double-A level. As the Boston Globe's Julian Benbow explained, Barnes has been working on fleshing out his secondary pitches this season so he doesn't have to rely so heavily on his low-to-mid-90s fastball.

Trevor Bauer, RHP, Indians: Bauer is the perfect example of the volatility of prospects. Selected third overall in the 2011 amateur draft, the right-hander out of UCLA dominated competition during his first taste of pro ball but the wheels fell off the wagon towards the end of 2012. Bauer's issues — both on and off the field — lead to an offseason trade and continued into 2013. His results at Triple-A have been less than ideal. After his most recent disastrous big league start, the young pitcher was returned to the minors and — according to a piece by Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal — he may focus on pitching exclusively from the stretch as a starter.

Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Angels: Los Angeles doesn't have a very deep minor league system whatsoever so when their top prospects stumble, it hurts them more than most organizations. The young third baseman is hitting just .215/.280/.309 at Double-A this season and some adjustments he made during the springtime could be to blame for his slow start. As Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com explained, the switch-hitting Cowart quieted his stance and eliminated the leg kick from the left side of the plate. He's still hitting just .198/.261/.275 versus right-handed pitching so clearly there are more wrinkles to iron out.

David Dahl, OF, Rockies: Like Bauer, Dahl's value is down as a result of well-documented off-the-field actions and maturity concerns. But those aren't the only things that have gone wrong for the outfielder in 2013. In early May, Dahl suffered what was expected to be a pulled hamstring while running the bases. About a week later, though, the prospect revealed on Twitter that his hamstring had been torn and was much more serious than first reported. That halted his season after 10 games (He got off to a late start because of the maturity issues mentioned above) and he hasn't appeared in a game since that time. His timetable for a return to the game is still up in the air.

Billy Hamilton, OF, Reds: Hamilton, 22, hasn't had a terrible year but he has yet to build off of the momentum he created last season when he hit .323/.413/.439 in High-A ball and stole 155 bases between two minor league clubs. Promoted to Triple-A to begin 2013 after spending just 50 games at the Double-A level, the speedy Hamilton has struggled to find his footing at the plate. On the plus side, the shortstop-turned-outfielder has nabbed 50 bases in just 80 games. His stolen base total could become much higher once he improves upon his .300 on-base percentage.

Courtney Hawkins, OF, White Sox: Hawkins has experienced a lot of struggles in his first full professional season. After hitting a combined .284 between three levels during last season's debut, he's batting just .191/.273/.485 with 95 strikeouts in 55 games during 2013. Scott Merkin of MLB.com talked to Hawkins regarding the learning curve he's experienced in High-A ball and how he plans to come out ahead.

Bubba Starling, OF, Royals: Starling opened 2013 with huge expectations surrounding him, but he hit just .195/.263/.379 with a massive strikeout rate in April. As Danny Wild of MiLB.com explained, things got so bad that Starling was sent to have his eyes examined for possible LASIK surgery in May — similar to what the Rangers did with third base prospect Mike Olt. Dick Kaegel of MLB.com later updated the story to report that the outfield prospect underwent the procedure on May 16. In June, after the eye surgery, Starling improved to hit .250/.327/.369 for the month, but he continued to strike out at a similar rate. He also hit jut one home run in 24 games. Clearly, there is more work to be done.

Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Royals: During the first three months of the year, Zimmer posted an ERA of more than 5.00 despite showing the same strong repertoire that caused him to be chosen fifth overall during the 2012 amateur draft. Thankfully, the right-hander may have finally turned a corner in July. He's posted a 2.77 ERA with no walks and 20 strikeouts in 13 innings. On the season, he's now whiffed 103 batters in 84 2/3 innings of work. Jonathan Raymond of MiLB.com spoke to Zimmer, who stated that he's finally becoming comfortable with his pitching mechanics, which is in turn allowing him to provide more consistent command.

A number of prospects have also suffered significant loss in value due to serious injuries. The list of walking wounded include: Dylan Bundy, RHP, Orioles; Travis d'Arnaud, C, Mets; Danny Hultzen, LHP, Mariners; Casey Kelly, RHP, Padres; Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Rays; and Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, Cubs.


AL East Notes: Barnes, Wakefield, Orioles

The latest from the AL East before the first-place Red Sox attempt to complete a sweep of the Yankees in New York…

  • Red Sox first rounder Matt Barnes grew up rooting for the Yankees, according to Nicole Auerbach of the Boston Globe. Barnes is preparing to switch his allegiances and he doesn't expect the change to be too difficult, since he has "always respected" the Red Sox.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says he was wrong to question Tim Wakefield's place on the Boston roster earlier this spring. The knuckleballer has a 4.84 ERA with 4.3 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 through 48 1/3 innings this year and is a Hall of Famer in the eyes of Robinson Cano.
  • Jim Callis of Baseball America gives the Orioles high marks on their draft, according to MASNsports' Steve Melewski. "They got the best pitcher in the draft and depth after that," Callis said. "They got tremendous quality and quantity."
  • Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun says he would have interest in signing J.J. Hardy to a two-year extension if he were running the Orioles. Hardy has a .276/.346/.457 line 131 plate appearances into the season.


Keith Law’s Final Mock Draft

Keith Law of ESPN.com has written up his final projections for tonight's draft. Here are some of the latest highlights (Insider subscription needed):

  • The D'Backs select UCLA righty Trevor Bauer with the No. 3 pick, meaning two of the first three picks will be Bruins after the Pirates take Gerrit Cole at No. 1 overall.
  • The Orioles, turned off by Virginia lefty Danny Hultzen's hefty contract demands, take prep righty Archie Bradley out of Oklahoma at No. 4. Dylan Bundy then falls to the Royals at No. 5, which Law says would be a steal, and Hultzen slides back to the D'Backs at No. 7, a "dream scenario" for Arizona. That could lead to tricky negotiations considering Hultzen's demands and the fact that the pick is unprotected after Barret Loux didn't sign last year, but Bauer and Hultzen  would represent quite a boon to the D'Backs' rotation in the near future.
  • The Mets meet their organizational mandate to take a pitcher at No. 13, selecting UConn righty Matt Barnes.
  • The Brewers, with an unprotected pick at No. 15, need to take a signable player, and may be looking at Vanderbilt righty Sonny Gray or Oregon lefty Tyler Anderson.
  • The Red Sox probably won't spend too wildly at No. 19 and could focus on a high-probability player like Alex Meyer of Kentucky as they did a year ago with Kolbrin Vitek.

Draft Prep: Meet The College Righties

In a draft considered by experts to be deep in pitching, six college right-handers possess the talent to rank within the top 20 overall for ESPN's Keith Law, Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein, and Baseball America.

Gerrit Cole, UCLA

Law has Cole going first overall to the Pirates in his most recent mock draft, while Baseball America has him falling to the Royals at #5.  Getting Cole is the "dream scenario" for the Royals at #5, according to Law. Cole, who was drafted out of high school by the Yankees in '08, boasts a mid-90s fastball, power slider, and above-average changeup.  Experts agree he has the ceiling of a number one starter, and Law says Cole "looks like he could pitch in the big leagues tomorrow if he'd sign soon enough to play."  He has, however, struggled with his command at times and hasn't delivered results on par with his abilities.  Cole is advised by the Boras Corporation.  He has been stingy on providing interviews, but MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith spoke to him in March.

Trevor Bauer, UCLA

Law believes the Diamondbacks could consider Bauer at #3 if Danny Hultzen is gone, but projects him going to the Nationals at #6.  Law does not expect Bauer to make it past the Indians at #8.  BA went with the Nats in their mock draft.  Bauer has been worked heavily and has unorthodox workouts and mechanics.  He's said by BA to pattern himself after Tim Lincecum.  Bauer comes with lots of strikeouts, good velocity, a plus-plus curveball, an above-average changeup, and a few other pitches too.  MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo spoke to him a few days ago.

Taylor Jungmann, Texas

Law projects the Brewers taking Jungmann at #12, with the Mets an option at #13.  BA guesses the Astros will take him at #11.  Law says the 6'6" Jungmann sits at 91-93 with a hammer curveball and strong command.  A few mild concerns have been raised about his delivery, and Goldstein questions whether he has "star-level upside."

Matt Barnes, Connecticut

Law notes that the Padres have interest at #10, which is BA's choice in their mock draft.  Barnes draws praise for his fastball and curveball, while questions remain about his command, mechanics, and secondary stuff.

Alex Meyer, Kentucky

Law names the Athletics at #18, the Red Sox at #19, and the Nationals at #23 as possibilities for Meyer, while BA takes the Angels at #17.  The 6'9" righty owns a mid-90s fastball and plus-plus slider, but Goldstein finds his performance inconsistent and all gurus say his command is lacking.  There is number one starter upside here, says Law.  Meyer, who turned down $2MM from the Red Sox as a 20th round pick out of high school three years ago, is advised by the Boras Corporation.

Sonny Gray, Vanderbilt

Gray could be Arizona's choice at their unprotected #7 spot, says Law, while the Padres could be a fit at #10.  He's mentioned the Cubs at #9 previously.  BA went with the Brewers at #15.  Gray is 5'11", but he pitches at 91-94 with what Law describes as a "knockout breaking ball."  The idea has been floated that Gray could end up a late-inning reliever.  Talking to Ben Nicholson-Smith in February, Gray said he prefers to start but considers himself versatile and enjoyed his time in the bullpen.