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Justin Verlander‘s recent struggles are “a giant concern” for the Tigers, writes James Schmel of MLive.com, because Verlander himself admits that he isn’t sure how to fix them. Verlander told reporters that he doesn’t feel he’s at the point in his career where he needs to reinvent himself on the mound, though he acknowledged that he doesn’t have the same velocity he used to have and said he didn’t blame the fans for booing him last night as he left the game. Verlander yielded seven runs on 12 hits last night and has posted a 7.83 ERA with a woeful 26-to-20 K/BB ratio over his last 43 2/3 innings (seven starts). He is averaging a career-worst (though still solid) 92.6 mph on his fastball.
Here’s more on the Tigers and the baseball’s Central divisions…
- Jon Morosi of FOX Sports hears that the Tigers aren’t planning on making a move to upgrade at shortstop, as they like what they’ve seen from rookie Eugenio Suarez since his promotion to the Majors (Twitter link). It’s tough not to like what they’ve seen from the 22-year-old Suarez, who is hitting .346/.452/.808 with three homers through his first 10 games. Clearly, he’s due for some regression, but the optimism is understandable.
- An AL scout tells David Kaplan of CSN Chicago that he’s spoken to the Cubs about both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, but he hasn’t gotten any indication from Chicago that any of their other starters are available (Twitter link). That contrasts recent reports that the team would be willing to listen to offers on Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta. Given Jackson’s remaining salary, it seems hard to believe that Chicago wouldn’t be open to moving him.
- The Pirates weren’t looking to trade right-hander Bryan Morris before trading him to the Marlins, GM Neal Huntington tells Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. However, Miami expressed interest in the deal after being attracted to an increase in Morris’ velocity and the addition of a two-seam/sinking fastball to his repertoire, and the two sides were able to strike a deal. Pittsburgh received Miami’s Competitive Balance Round A pick (No. 39 overall), used to draft (and sign) Connor Joe, while Miami has been rewarded to this point with 9 1/3 innings of scoreless relief from Morris, who has shown greatly improved command.
- Twins closer Glen Perkins offered some candid comments regarding catcher Josmil Pinto on 1500 ESPN Radio with Phil Mackey and Judd Zulgad (via Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press). While he was highly complimentary of Pinto’s offensive skills, the left-hander was blunt in his description of Pinto’s defense: “He’s a long, long ways away, to be honest with you. …his pitch framing, he’s got some work to do.” Perkins flatly he said Pinto is “surely not at the big-league level as far as catching for me.” Perkins went on to preach the importance of framing and praise veterans Jonathan Lucroy and Jose Molina for their prowess at the skill. Minnesota recently sent Pinto to the minors to get more consistent at-bats and consistent time behind the plate. He’s spent much of the season DHing while Kurt Suzuki, whose offensive contributions have been somewhat surprising, has done the bulk of the catching.
- After leaving the Reds organization to take a “mental break,” the representative of reliever Carlos Marmol says that the righty may not look to return this season, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Agent Paul Kinzer told Heyman that Marmol decided to return to the Dominican Republic to deal with unspecified personal issues, and has had no physical problems.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
The Marlins announced that they have designated right-hander Kevin Slowey and left-hander Randy Wolf for assignment as part of a series of roster moves. Additionally, Christian Yelich and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have been placed on the 15-day DL, and Donovan Solano has been optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. Miami will recall right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, outfielder Jake Marisnick and first baseman Justin Bour. Most notably, top prospect Andrew Heaney will also be promoted to the Majors for the first time.
Heaney (pictured) was the ninth overall selection in the 2012 draft and entered the season ranked as the game’s No. 30 prospect according to both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus. MLB.com ranked the 23-year-old as the game’s No. 29 prospect, and ESPN’s Keith Law ranked him 34th entering the season.
Heaney has shredded minor league hitters this season, pitching to a 2.47 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 76 2/3 innings between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans. Should he remain with the team through season’s end, he would accrue 106 days of Major League service time, meaning that he should fall well shy of Super Two status.
The former Oklahoma State ace has a fastball that sits in the low 90s and touches 95 mph regularly, per Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com. That plus heater is accompanied by a “wipeout” slider that Mayo and Callis grade as Heaney’s best pitch, as well as a changeup that the duo describes as a “good third pitch.” BA’s scouting reports notes that his fastball can reach 97 mph when he needs the heat, but Heaney has learned that he pitches with better command when throwing in the 91 to 93 mph range. BA also noted that holding runners has been a weakness for Heaney dating back to college (19 of 20 attempted base-stealers were successful against him in 2013), but he’s allowed just six steals in nine attempts in 2014.
The 37-year-old Wolf signed a Major League deal with the Marlins in May after opting out of his minor league deal with the Diamondbacks. He posted a 5.26 ERA with a strong 19-to-6 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings with the Fish, and his 87.7 mph fastball velocity wasn’t too far off his career mark of 88.2 mph. Wolf’s stint with the Marlins was his first Major League work since late 2012, as he missed last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Sabermetric ERA estimators such as FIP (4.33), xFIP (3.87) and SIERA (3.99) all feel that he was the victim of some poor luck.
Slowey, 30, posted similar numbers to Wolf, compiling a 5.30 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 37 1/3 innings. He, too, was the victim of a very lofty batting average on balls in play (.382), which no doubt contributed to his lofty ERA. Slowey has always been a soft-tossing fly-ball pitcher, but he has excellent command and a respectable 4.62 ERA in 662 career innings with the Twins and Marlins.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Marlins have signed Tyler Kolek, the second overall pick of the 2014 draft, and will officially introduce their newest prospect later today. Kolek will sign for a $6MM bonus, MLB.com’s Jim Callis reported over the weekend, which is the third-highest bonus ever given to a high school pitcher taken in the draft.
It is still, however, significantly below the approximate $6.822MM slot price for the No. 2 overall selection. Miami has already freed some savings by locking up Blake Anderson to a bonus of about $400K less than his slot value, so the Marlins have quite a bit of extra money available in its draft pool to reach agreement with several of its purportedly hard-to-sign, later-round picks.
Kolek was a consensus top-three talent heading into the draft. The 6’5, 250lb Texas high school righty has been said to have perhaps the most powerful prep fastball ever, regularly hitting and even surpassing the 100mph plateau. ESPN.com’s Keith Law notes that he will need to develop a third offering to complement his heater and slider, but obviously his upside is tantalizing.
Joe Frisaro of MLB.com first reported that Kolek and the Marlins were “in advanced negotiations,” while Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reported that the two sides had reached an agreement pending a physical.
MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth and Mark Polishuk contributed to this post.
The Marlins‘ offensive improvement from 2013 to 2014 has been enormous, as Dave Cameron of Fangraphs points out in a piece for FOX Sports. They’ve gotten help from newcomers Casey McGehee, Garrett Jones and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. But the Marlins’ offensive resurgence has truly been a team effort — they’ve also gotten a big bounce-back season from Giancarlo Stanton, plus solid contributions from Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich (who’s now headed to the DL with a back injury) and Derek Dietrich. Their offense is the main reason they’re still above .500 despite the loss of Jose Fernandez to elbow trouble. Here are more notes from the National League.
- Top prospect Gregory Polanco just keeps hitting for the Pirates, with 12 hits in his first six games. SportsCenter points out (via Twitter) that Polanco is the first Pirate to have hits in each of his first six games since Roberto Clemente in 1955. The Pirates promoted Polanco on Tuesday, possibly delaying his arrival until after the likely Super Two threshold. Polanco had one hit in each of his first three games, then had five, including a decisive two-run homer, in the Pirates’ 13-inning game in Miami Friday.
- Kris Bryant has dominated so far this season at Double-A Tennessee, but the Cubs want to keep his performance so far in perspective, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. “I think we try to keep in context that a year ago at this time he wasn’t even a signed player yet. We had just drafted him,” says Cubs executive Jason McLeod. “He has had two very good months at Double A, but still, only two months. … Obviously he has been really, really good and forcing us to take notice of his performance.” Bryant, the second overall pick in last year’s draft, has hit .357/.460/.709 in 291 plate appearances at Double-A.
Here’s the latest out of the National League …
- The Diamondbacks are close to reaching agreement with first-round pick Touki Toussaint, reports MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. “Touki I think is very close right now,” said GM Kevin Towers. “… Pretty optimistic we’ll get something done here shortly.” Toussaint, who was taken 16th overall (with a $2,338,200 slot bonus), was rated between the eighth (MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo) and thirteenth (ESPN.com’s Keith Law) best player available, with Law saying he could have the most upside of any of the draft-eligible high school righties.
- Even if the Phillies decide to sell, it may prove difficult, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. In particular, many of the team’s veteran players have not only no-trade protection but also vesting options (some of which appear more achievable than others) at the back ends of their already-sizeable contracts. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has indicated, however, that those contracts should not be a major hindrance if the team shops its best players. “[W]e have taken money back on deals before and will do it again if we have to,” says Amaro.
- The Pirates rotation is looking increasingly thin, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Injuries have accumulated on top of an already poor start to the year, and unlike last year the club lacks obvious internal replacements to step in and provide a boost. Though some attractive arms figure to be made available at the trade deadline, Biertempfel indicates that Pittsburgh seems unlikely to pay the price (in dollars and in prospects) to add an impact starter.
- Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley says he is exceedingly unlikely to throw again this year, as Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports. Billingsley has been diagnosed with a partially torn flexor tendon. “If I do the rehab I would have a chance,” he said, “but the risk would be … tendon fails, that’s a six-month rehab after surgery. Doing three years’ rehab would be a grind.” As that quote indicates, it has already been a long road for Billingsley and his troubled right arm. He is in the last year of a three-year, $35MM pact that includes a $14MM club option for 2015. It seems highly likely at this point, of course, that Los Angeles will instead pay a $3MM buyout and let Billingsley hit the open market.
- The Cardinals are currently hesitant to go shopping for a starter, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (video link). St. Louis still has internal options for the rotation (such as Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez) and probably will not meet the asking price for top-end arms. One team that could be in the market for rotation help is the Marlins, Rosenthal adds.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says that the club is not looking to deal Denard Span or Adam LaRoche to allow Ryan Zimmerman to stay in left field when Bryce Harper returns, Rosenthal reports. Span remains an interesting name to watch, however, as Rosenthal notes. The outstanding defensive center fielder has failed to reach base reliably from the top of the lineup, but is under control through next season with a fairly reasonable $9MM team option.
The Marlins have signed second-round pick Justin Twine for the bonus pool value of $1.316MM, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. Miami selected Twine, a Texas high school shortstop (and also an outstanding high school running back), with the No. 43 overall pick. He was committed to TCU.
Baseball America ranked Twine the No. 138 prospect in the draft, while MLB.com placed him at No. 161. They note he has excellent speed (which is no surprise, given his background), but scouts aren’t sold on his hitting ability, particularly his ability to hit secondary pitches. He also may eventually have to move to center field.
The Marlins also recently reportedly agreed to a $6MM bonus with first-round pick Tyler Kolek, saving $821K against their bonus pool. They also saved about $400K on Comp Round A pick Blake Anderson and about $137K on third-rounder Brian Anderson. As MLB.com’s Jim Callis pointed out earlier today (on Twitter), that meant the Marlins had saved about $1.36MM against their bonus pool. The Marlins gave back $250K of that amount as part of a $350K bonus for 11th-round pick Nick White, but that still left about $1.11MM in savings. Callis guessed that Twine might be the beneficiary of some of that money, but it appears that isn’t the case.
The Rays have claimed right-hander Angel Sanchez off waivers from the Marlins, tweets Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Marlins have announced that the move will clear a 40-man roster spot for Rafael Furcal to be activated from the DL and reinstated to the big league roster. Sanchez will head to Double-A Montgomery for the Rays.
Sanchez, not to be confused with the infielder of the same name who inked a minor league deal with the Dodgers earlier today, is a 24-year-old right-hander out of the Dominican Republic. He is one of three pitchers that the Marlins acquired from the Dodgers in exchange for Ricky Nolasco and cash last season (the roughly $6MM of salary relief was the bigger concern for Miami in that transaction). In 12 starts at Double-A Jacksonville this season, Sanchez posted a 6.88 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 52 1/3 innings.
Furcal, who signed a one-year Major League deal with the Fish this offseason, will bat leadoff in tonight’s game for the Marlins — his first big league action since 2012 with the Cardinals. He batted .264/.325/.346 in 531 plate appearances for St. Louis that season. A three-time All-Star and former NL Rookie of the Year (2000), Furcal is a career .281/.346/.403 hitter in parts of 13 Major League seasons with the Braves, Dodgers and Cardinals.
The Marlins have scratched top prospect Andrew Heaney from tonight’s start, but Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald writes that fans shouldn’t read too much into the move. Marlins VP of player development Marty Scott tells Spencer that the move is just a precaution against having to shut Heaney down in September and isn’t related to a current call-up. Heaney himself told Darrell Williams of the New Orleans Advocate that he feels he’s ready to pitch in the Majors but doesn’t want to be called up as a fill-in, but rather to help the team win: “They’re in first place,” said Heaney. “I don’t want them to bring me up as an experiment.”
Here’s more from the NL East…
- Francisco Rodriguez told Newsday’s Marc Carig that he and the Mets exchanged numbers shortly before New York signed Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde, and following those two moves, he made his decision to return to the Brewers (Twitter link). K-Rod, signed to be a setup man in Milwaukee, has instead turned back the clock with his best season in years, pitching to a 2.01 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 20 saves to this point as the team’s closer.
- The Mets are “caught between the reality of needing patience and the desire to finally start winning again,” writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. Kepner spoke with Jon Niese, who said he’s not sure how Mets prospects such as Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero and Travis d’Arnaud deal with the pressure and expectations placed upon them by fans and media alike. Niese, who didn’t break out until his fifth season with the Mets, added that he’s thankful that the team gave him, Daniel Murphy and Bobby Parnell time to develop, but he’s not sure the newest wave will be afforded the same opportunity.
- James Wagner of the Washington Post examines Nationals prospect Michael Taylor‘s breakout at Double-A Harrisburg. Taylor, not to be confused by the former Top 100 prospect of the same name, has worked with hitting coach Mark Harris to tweak his approach at the plate and is recognizing breaking pitches better and thriving at the plate. His strikeout rate is still a problem, but it dropped from April to May, and if he can continue that trend he could be on a fast track to Washington’s outfield.
Here are the day’s draft signings, with slot bonus information by way of Baseball America:
- MLB.com’s Jim Callis tweets that Connaughton, Baltimore’s third-rounder, signed for the slot value of $428,100. Callis and his colleague Jonathan Mayo ranked Connaughton 112th prior to the draft and praised his 95 mph fastball.
- The Orioles have announced the signing each of the first three players selected by the club: lefty Brian Gonzalez (3rd round, 90th overall, $594.2K allocation), righty Pat Connaughton (4th round, 121st overall, $428.1K allocation), and righty David Hess (5th round, 151st overall, $320.5K allocation). Actual bonuses have not yet been reported. Of course, Baltimore gave up the rights to its original first three choices by signing two qualifying offer free agents and dealing away the club’s compensation round A choice.
- The Angels have signed 14 of the team’s selections to undisclosed bonuses, reports Jim Peltz of the Los Angeles Times. Among the players signed are junior righty Jeremy Rhoades (4th round, 119th overall, $436.5K allocation) and JuCo righty Jake Jewell (fifth round, 149th overall, $326.8K allocation).
- Austin Cousino, the third-round selection of the Mariners, has agreed to terms, reports Cotillo (via Twitter). The University of Kentucky outfielder was taken at 80th overall, which comes with a $693.2K bonus allocation, though financial terms are not yet known.Baseball America and MLB.com valued Cousino in the sixth-round range.
- Fifth-rounder Josh Ockimey has agreed to a $450K bonus with the Red Sox, tweets Cotillo. That represents a $167.2K overage against the slot value of the 164th overall choice. Ockimey is a high school first baseman from Pennsylvania.
- The Dodgers have agreed to an at-slot, $534.4K bonus with third-round choice John Richy, tweets MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo. Richy, a junior righty from UNLV, was listed as Baseball America’s 203rd-best available player entering the draft.
- The Braves have also inked their third-round pick, Max Povse, to a below-slot $425K bonus, Mayo reports on Twitter. That delivers $89.2K in savings against the 102nd pick’s allotted bonus value. Baseball America rated the UNC-Greensboro righty at 142nd on its list of the top 500 draft prospects.
- Sixth-round pick Max George has been added by the Rockies with a well-above-slot $620K bonus, tweets Mayo. His slot value was just $259.2K. The Colorado high school shortstop, who did not appear on the draft boards of any major analysts, had been committed to Oregon State. That overage will account for a decent chunk of the team’s savings from signing first-rounder Kyle Freeland to a below-slot deal.
- Brewers third-rounder Cy Sneed has agreed to an under-slot $400K bonus, tweets Mayo. That represents a $241.8K savings against the 85th overall slot’s assigned value. Sneed, a junior righty from Dallas Baptist, checked in at 158th on Baseball America’s rankings.
- The Marlins have agreed to terms with third-round choice Brian Anderson at the below-slot mark of $600K, tweets Callis. Anderson’s 76th overall slot comes with a $737.2K allotment, meaning that Miami will save about $137.2K while adding a player that Baseball America listed as the 69th best available.
- Fourth-round choice Taylor Gushue will land a full-slot, $388.8K bonus with the Pirates, Callis reports on Twitter. Both Baseball America and MLB.com saw the University of Florida backstop as landing just outside the top 100 draft prospects.
- Milton Ramos, who reportedly agreed with the Mets yesterday, will receive a $750K bonus, reports Jim Callis of MLB.com (via Twitter). That represents a $98.3K overage against the slot assessment for the 84th overall pick. Helping to make up for that, the club has also added fifth-round choice Josh Prevost with a $100K bonus that will save $239.6K against the pick’s slot value, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: 2014 Amateur Draft | 2014 Amateur Draft Signings | Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Colorado Rockies | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Miami Marlins | Milwaukee Brewers | New York Mets | Pittsburgh Pirates | Seattle Mariners
We’ll keep tabs on today’s minor moves in this post …
- The Phillies have released former first-round pick Anthony Hewitt, the team’s Class-A affiliate announced. The third-baseman-turned-outfielder was selected 24th overall in 2008 but failed to progress beyond the Double-A level and has authored a .223/.264/.370 slash line in his minor league career.
- The Mets have granted infielder Zach Lutz his release so that he may sign with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reported yesterday. In a followup tweet, he added that Lutz’s rights were sold to the Golden Eagles, so there will be some monetary compensation for the Mets. The 28-year-old Lutz was in the midst of a solid season with Triple-A Las Vegas, batting .291/.386/.449 with seven home runs (albeit in a very hitter-friendly environment). He appeared with the Mets’ big league club in 2013, slashing .300/.462/.400 in 26 trips to the plate.
- The White Sox have acquired outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo from the Blue Jays in exchange for cash considerations, the Jays’ Triple-A affiliate (Buffalo Bisons) announced on Twitter (h/t to Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star). Toronto claimed the out-of-options Tuiasosopo off waivers late in the spring and then outrighted him to Triple-A. The 28-year-old has a .206/.289/.271 slash in 242 plate appearances on the year for Buffalo.
- The Rockies have signed free agent righty Mike Piazza to a minor league deal, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Not to be confused with the catcher by the same name, Piazza is a 27-year-old righty who spent his entire career in the Angels organization, never moving past the Double-A level, before joining the independent Laredo Lemurs this year.
- Buddy Carlyle has accepted a minor league assignment from the Mets, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter). The 36-year-old righty was designated for assignment on June 4.
- The Blue Jays have acquired outfielder Adron Chambers from the Astros in exchange for two young minor leaguers, reports Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (via Twitter). Chambers, 27, saw limited action with the Cardinals over 2011-13 before signing a minor league deal with Houston. He has posted a .281/.356/.416 line in 102 plate appearances at Triple-A. Heading back to the Astros in the deal are youngsters Alejandro Solarte, a left-handed pitcher, and Will Dupont, an infielder.
- The Marlins have released right-handed reliever Henry Rodriguez, according to the PCL transactions page. Rodriguez signed a minor league deal with the Fish over the offseason, but lasted only 1 2/3 frames at the big league level when he issued five free passes in that span. He had worked to a 4.26 ERA in 25 1/3 minor league innings, though that mark came with 14 wild pitches and an interesting strikeout-to-walk ratio of 14.6 K/9 against 13.5 BB/9. Rodriguez possesses a huge arm with a devastating slider and change, but has simply never been able to control his stuff consistently.
- After today’s moves, MLBTR DFA Tracker shows the following names in limbo: Jason Kubel (Twins), Wilton Lopez (Rockies), Wade LeBlanc (Yankees), and Nick Evans (Diamondbacks).